This is something I wrote down for a journalist doing a story on Couple Entrepreneurs. Then I thought I could do a few posts on this topic. Apart from the general entrepreneurial experiences, doing business together has some unique good and bad aspects. Some people might be interested in hearing those stories too 🙂 So, here is the first part which primarily talks of our experience. In the coming parts, I’d try to generalize some of the issues couple entrepreneurs may face and should think through in advance.
Running a company together, like everything else in the world, has its advantages and disadvantages.
The biggest advantage is that the decisions about the personal and the professional lives do not have to clash with each other, since its the same two persons taking the decisions on both the fronts. So, if Abhaya had to come back to India by dropping his Ph. D. it was not a sacrifice of his professional ambitions for a personal one. It became a professional as well as a personal decision.
Similarly, running of the household. Both of us are endlessly occupied with the company and have little time for the household work. Our home does not give the impression of a normal household of married people at all. It looks like a house inhabited by bachelors. Functional and nerdy at best. My house used to look much better and well-maintained when I was single and was in a job! But there are no complaints about it between ourselves because we are both working towards the same goal.
Also, there are no gender stereotypes working in our home. There is no women’s work or men’s work. We share the responsibilities of home and company just like two room-mates of the same gender would.
We complement each other in our basic nature. I am the impulsive, do-it-now type of person. Abhaya is the patient, thinking and planning type. I am the decision maker. He is the analyzer. So, I make sure that we do not think too long about something so as to miss the bus. And Abhaya makes sure that we do not do anything too impulsively either and think through all the information that is available.
But then there are disadvantages too. The worst of which is that the stress carries over to personal life. If something goes wrong, there is nothing like going home at the end of the day, forgetting about work for a while and unwinding. We carry the stress everywhere with us 24/7. Even work related differences of opinions carry over to personal lives. This does sometimes makes us feel that it is not a good idea for both of us to be working on the same thing.
Also, we are unable to make time for family. We got married after we had started the company and were fielding mails and phone calls even on our wedding day. We were back on work while the family and relatives were still around and of course had no time for honeymoon. We have hardly visited our families after wedding and even when we did, it was often not together because we could not both leave the company at the same time.
Another issue is the financial security. Running a startup is a lot financial risk and with both of us devoting full-time to it, it is all the family’s eggs in the same basket. Its not like one person is earning the bread and the other is taking the risk. Since, we started early on, we could take that risk. Although at some point of time we may need to revisit it.
That is it for the first part. Let me know through comments, if there are specific issues you want me to talk about in coming posts. If I can, I’d definitely include them.