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Coach-Soch: Startup at the cost of family?

Coach-Soch: Startup at the cost of family?

Coach-Soch: Startup at the cost of family?
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By Srinath Sridharan  May 7, 2022 12:28:51 PM IST (Published)

A short business narrative (of a 3 min read) that sets the context, challenge(s) faced, the type of leadership involved and the questions to ponder about, to solve for the issues. This is not to give answers; for business & life in general is not like a school-guide-book. This column is to provoke the reader to think more. And to sensitise that each individual or organisation are unique, and the answers would depend on the situation, difference in organisational culture, context, etc.

To question, is to think. To think, is to introspect. To introspect, is to seek. To seek, is to be aware. To be aware, is when the journey begins.
Founder and family time

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Entrepreneurship by its very nature has an impact (negative) on founders. It is a tough taskmaster and demands time in abundance. No wonder, it is tough on marriages and family life.
Many entrepreneurs assume that family will understand and adjust. That could end up as the biggest source of their personal irritation. Without meaning anything untoward, most entrepreneurs also assume that it’s fine if they give their families a great long weekend of holidays and spend the rest of the 360 days almost obsessed with their startup at the cost of family (time).
The cost includes simple family gestures and participation in the family development by having meals together regularly (at least one meal a day), taking kids out to play or participating in their school or college events. After all, parenting has a time-stamp. If you miss the formative years, you are not going to get them back even if you have lots of wealth.
If you are an entrepreneur or part of a core team of a startup venture or even a busy professional executive, ask yourself these:
Is the cost of your success drawn from the dwindling quality of your relationship with your family and close friends?
What are the other human costs that you are paying for focusing single-mindedly on your venture?
Do your kids recognise you as ‘parent’ or simply as yet another individual part of the family? Do they hate the fact that they don’t get quality time from you who is busy parenting a venture or team?
Do you play Santa Claus every now and then to resolve your guilt-feeling for missing quality time with the family? And do you end up picking up gifts to make up for those missed PTA meetings or broken promises to the kids or missing your promised dates with your spouse?
Startups and marriage
In a startup, the founder’s spouse often feels that the relationship is like a three-party relationship—the two partners and the startup.
The only way you can take care of your business and loved ones is if you care for yourself first. Get sufficient exercise, rest, personal time with family, and personal time to simply introspect daily about your venture.
Having a startup responsibility while balancing your family life will be a tough ask. It is routine to work and raise a family for any busy executive. But startup founders face an existential threat to their business daily, which adds to their time pressure.
This is why it becomes a good ask for founders and core teams to educate their families on how startup works and what they are intending to do. Don’t think that your young child won’t understand. And don’t try to sweeten any tough situation for your spouse. Respect their space and intelligence and keep them posted about your venture regularly.
A startup takes extraordinary amounts of time and energy. As an entrepreneur, the work never stops. It doesn't matter how successful the business is, it is a personality trait of many entrepreneurs.
The only solution for making time is prioritising ruthlessly. Running a startup could be an advantage. Try to fit your work meetings into your family commitments. Calendarise your family events, including school meetings or meals into your routine. If your work takes you travelling, check with your time and finance availability to rope in the family into that travel schedule. Check if you can fit in a children's room at your workplace and ensure not only your children but your colleagues’ can also spend time there.
And if you’re at a startup, avoid taking work-life balance advice from your investors. Most of them generally want you to give your 100 percent to the venture as they are invested in it (and many a times, not in you, beyond a point).
– The author, Srinath Sridharan is a Corporate Adviser and Independent Markets Commentator. For other articles in the Coach Soch series, click here.
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