Being a Startup Dad : We do make it a point to get to the dinner table together [Sameer, Linger]

We do make it a point to get to the dinner table together. We also try and do a few holidays every year as a family – and I make sure these aren’t “working vacations”.

Continuing with our startup dad series, meet Sameer Shisodia. Sameer runs Linger hospitality chain (is also a part of NextBigWhat team) and has been been an entrepreneur for the last 8 years. On the occasion of father’s day (June 16th), we bring you perspectives from startup dads and the challenges/joys of being one*.

What’s so special about startup dad? After all, everybody else is working equally hard.

Being a startup dad isn’t easy. You slog many hours and while you definitely try to keep family updated about the current status of your startup, the truth is that kids do not get it. They don’t need to. They are as demanding and lovable as they are meant to be.

While the same is true for all working professionals, startup dads are ‘special’ because they do not bring the moolah (!), and in most cases they aren’t able to afford fancy stuff that kids want (or are ‘made to want’ thanks to peer pressure/ TV commercials). Plus, the ‘job’ doesn’t end once one reaches the home.

Here’s what Sameer had to say.

NextBigWhat: How many kids do you have? How old?

Sameer Shisodia: 2 (11.5 and 8 years).

NextBigWhat: Being a startup dad, how do you manage your startup-life balance? What are some of the key challenges you have faced?

Sameer Shisodia with Kids

The startup is essentially my 3rd kid. And the youngest does need more attention in the early years 🙂

I work many hours, but do have the flexibility that a corp job never gave me. Do try being around when the kids are around. My work needs me to travel out of town a lot, so am often out at short notice and my wife – herself an entrepreneur with more “reliable” schedules – takes care of a lot of their b’day parties, classes etc and I pitch in when needed. We do make it a point to get to the dinner table together.
We also try and do a few holidays every year as a family – and I make sure these aren’t “working vacations”.

NextBigWhat: Truth is that most of the entrepreneurs often earn less than *uncles around*, which translates to the same old car, house, lesser fancy stuff @home etc etc. Kids often build perception on these – how has been your reaction? How have you managed this?

Sameer Shisodia: I think its a good opportunity to inculcate the “where the money comes from” bit in kids! We have taught them to distinguish between needs and wants, and rethink impulse purchase desires. We do talk to them about how the business is, what the challenges are, and why its worth doing. So far, they’ve shown a lot more maturity towards this than I’ve had imagined earlier. In fact, my son often evaluates all by himself what’s worth doing or buying and what’s not, and he’s not even 12!

NextBigWhat: One of the psychological theory mentions that kids often believe that ‘dad does nothing’ 🙂 That’s because they see mom doing a whole lotta stuff- but not their dad. Experience?

Sameer Shisodia: In my case its “dad’s on the computer working very hard”. I expect this myth to get busted when they get onto FB/Twitter 😀

Seriously, though, keeping them “in the loop” helps. My kids both talk about what else we could do at Linger, what places would be great for a location we could run, and how we could market it better!!

I also think the next few decades will be very different from the cosseted, cocooned lives we’ve led, and entrepreneurship in the family is a good way for the kids to see and pick up a lot of real world skills that’ll hopefully stand them in good stead.

*If you are a startup dad, willing to share your experience (candid/UnPluggd fashion), please share here.

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