Frequent business meetings, corner offices, and a successful start-up can easily bring a strange sense of joy and pride to anyone, but nothing matches what you feel when a nurse hands you a baby saying, “Congratulations! You’ve become a father”. No, words can’t define the joy, the magical burble that falls on your ears, that beautiful touch of really soft skin, a puny little nose, and tiny little eyes looking at you with astonishment. You say with a really soft voice, “Don’t cry little child, daddy is here” (as if he/she understands what you’re saying). The feeling, in short, is truly surreal!
It’s not like you don’t know what it feels like to nurture something from the start and see it grow before your eyes, when you’re an entrepreneur. You’ve always treated your start-up like your own baby. You’ve put in all the time needed to fulfil your responsibilities, even if that meant giving happy hour with your long-time buddies a miss on many occasions. You’ve been stressed by the many duties and chores that you never expected you had to do. You’ve felt a deep sense of pain when you heard an awry word about your first baby, your very own company. So it was only natural that you assumed that bringing up another child is something that would come to you naturally. You weren’t wrong in making that presumption but what you didn’t realise was that you’ll be father to two kids: Your own baby and your start-up. Say welcome to double the responsibility!
But what does it really mean to be a dadpreneur? It means that after a long hard day when you’re totally drained of all your energy trying to make that perfect pitch for investors, you’ve got to rush back home and muster the courage to make clownish faces and make your little one laugh. It means going to bed at 11 PM to make it for your important meeting the next day, only to be woken up by a wail at 3 AM with all your plans going for a toss. It means reading every business magazine you can lay your hands on while also making a list of the most beloved children’s literature that you will read to your bundle of joy before bedtime.
Today, no father wants to just be a detached bread-winner whom the kid only sees on weekends or family holidays. Most fathers, including me, want to take an active role in the upbringing of their child and foster a strong and meaningful relationship with him/her. In fact, many studies show that children’s relationships with their fathers go a long way in determining how secure, confident, sociable and ambitious they grow up to be as adults. And all of us want to ensure that we do a good job of raising our little ones in such a way that they make for impressive grown-ups. For this, it is imperative to spend ample time with them, read to them, play with them, teach them life lessons, cook for them, change their diapers and most importantly, let them know that dad is always around.
Yes, being a father and an entrepreneur isn’t easy. In fact, it’s far from that. While you may have a sick child at home, you will also have an important conference to attend which you simply can’t miss because both are your baby and your brand need you. Often, you’ll be planning your child’s birthday party while simultaneously looking for ways to handle under-performing employees. There will be days when you don’t want to do anything except cradle your baby and watch him/her gurgle with joy but you will have to be in office charging your workforce up to meet the next big milestone for your brand.Overwhelming as it may all sound, it is also totally worth it. Nothing gives more satisfaction on the personal front than being a father. And on a professional level, I wouldn’t trade being an entrepreneur for anything else in the world. Like all things in life that are worth having, being a father-preneur isn’t easy but the unbridled happiness that this dual responsibility brings is simply unfathomable. As more and more passionate people take up entrepreneurship as a way of life and more men embrace their full role as dads, we’re certainly heading for a generation full of father-preneurs and my only words of advice to them are these: It will be a rollercoaster but one that is replete with fun and pleasure that is simply unimaginable. Don’t give it a miss!