As featured in the September 12 issue of the “Entrepreneur” (India) Magazine.
Think you know entrepreneurs? Ha! Think again! These are seven dark secrets that entrepreneurs will never reveal about themselves:
1. Entrepreneurs are insecure.
For many years, I felt insecure.
First about not being an engineer, but just a lowly B.Com graduate. Then about not being an MBA while all my friends became one. Next came a sinking feeling of not having worked for a Fortune 500 Company (I worked in my dad’s socks factory for twelve years).
It was only when I broke out and became an entrepreneur that this feeling started fading. I tasted some success that made me feel somewhat secure and confident of being able to survive in the otherwise ‘formatted for success’ world.
2. Entrepreneurs are lonely.
Honestly, entrepreneurs are their own best friends.
Yes, family comes close and there is almost a reverse dependency on family (I feel I depend on my wife and 2 daughters more than they depend on me), but there is really no one else.
Maybe I speak for myself, but the gigantic tasks of the day leave no room for hanging out with friends or acquaintances. In most cases, it’s going out with the office crowd.
Entrepreneurs speak to themselves in their sleep. They sell proposals to themselves in the shower and negotiate term sheets in their mind while they are eating sev puri. There is little time for other friendships.
3. Entrepreneurs are selfish.
I can never forgive myself for one incident.
Neither can my wife. The day my younger daughter was born was also the day I was supposed to sign my final shareholding agreements to close my first round of funding. I chose to sign those documents instead of bringing my wife and new born baby back home from the hospital.
This just pointedly shows how selfish entrepreneurs are.
4. Entrepreneurs are about the glory, not about the money.
I always told my wife that I would be really elated the day I made my crore rupees and that “life would change after that”.
I made one crore in a sale transaction 6 years ago and I still remember working doubly hard that day. Nothing changed the next day or the week after. And as I see it, nothing will change in the decade to come.
I realized that entrepreneurs do what they do for the glory of it. The money just happens and gets silently ignored.
5. Entrepreneurs are those people who walk into dark basements with the lights off.
Whenever I see a movie where a person who hears a noise slowly starts walking down into a dark basement with no lights (to investigate), I get the jeebie-jeebies.
It’s just that very often, entrepreneurs love chasing ideas and concepts till the very end. Almost fanatically, like someone obsessed; oblivious to fears and dangers to the point of almost getting killed in the bargain.
In the beginning of my entrepreneurial career, I would call 500 clients everyday and say, “Hi, I’m calling from contests2win.com, can I meet you?” No one bothered to speak to me, forget meet me. But I just kept on calling, ignoring the dark fear that I may not have been on the right path in the first place.
6. Entrepreneurs don’t mind their own business. They want to mind yours.
My wife and kids have given up on me.
It’s because at a restaurant, I lecture the manager on how to speak on the phone. Or because I spend forty minutes at a premium clothes store explaining to the saleswoman, how she should sell shirts to men. When the person at the toll booth doesn’t have change, I have a problem. When the car showroom sticks a ‘serviced at x garage’ sticker on my car – the manager, his boss and boss’s father get a lecture on how they cannot treat other people’s cars as media properties.
Entrepreneurs just can’t keep their noses to themselves.
They have to poke and intrude into other people’s business, and that’s not because they are curious or jealous; it’s because they want to participate in the other person’s business. They want to contribute and they want to inspire that entrepreneur to be the best.
7. Entrepreneurs love C.S.I
I love C.S.I (the investigative programme on TV). It’s not because I love to solve crimes, but because I love detail. I love the nitty gritty, the tiny hooks and sinks, the finger printing of attention, the DNA analysis of ‘why’!
In my father’s factory, I spent years writing an algorithm that calculated the cost of everything that went into making a sock – including the cost of the electricity of the lightbulb in the watchman’s bathroom.
Details are the ocean in which entrepreneurs swim to find hidden treasures.Sometimes the treasures are found and sometimes not, but the addiction to detail just becomes permanent.
Entrepreneurs are dangerous, lonely, crazy people. They are like Vampires. Either you stay away from them, or become them.
First Published on: Sep 3, 2012