Entrepreneurs, What You Need To Know – By The First Woman To Take A Silicon Valley Company Public

n 1972, Sandra Kurtzig started her first company, ASK Computer Systems from the second bedroom of her house with $2,000. She was aiming to make some extra cash for childcare but instead as founder, chairman and CEO grew the company into one of 1970’s and 80’s largest global software companies. Kurtzig was the first female entrepreneur to take a Silicon Valley company public.

Now she’s back – at the helm of upstart cloud company, Kenandy. In 2011, her friend and neighbor in Hawaii, Marc Benioff convinced her to come out of retirement to found the cloud-based supply-chain software company to take on the likes of Oracle ORCL -0.87%and SAP . In many ways Kenandy is a 2014 iteration of her first company. “You’re the one to do it – it’s in your DNA,” she says Benioff told her.

Kenandy has raised $45 million over two rounds, with investors including Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Salesforce.com CRM -1.11% Inc, Lightspeed and law firm Wilson Sonsini Goodrich GR NaN% & Rosati.

Here, Kurtzig shared with FORBES what she’s learned about entrepreneurship, business and work-life balance along the way.

“If you’re public, the end of every quarter is just the beginning of the next. There’s no beginning middle and end, it’s just one rollercoaster and one tread mill after another. So you better be passionate and you better love it,” she says.

Have a rock solid business plan

“Businesses today start and they don’t really have a plan. That makes me nervous,” she says. “I think an entrepreneur is someone who is self-confident but realistic because if you don’t have a self confidence you’re not going to get anyone to buy from you. But you better be realistic about what the business model is.”

Both Kurtzig’s sons are entrepreneurs too. Andy Kurtzig runs $100 million JustAnswer and his brother Ken has a sustainability startup, iReuse. She says she warned them not to drop out of college a la Steve Jobs or Larry Ellison.

“A lot of VCs are throwing money at kids in college to drop out of college and start companies. I think there is something to that. If you give smart people some money they’ll figure it out and if they start down the wrong path they’ll figure out a way to get back again. But, those four years are a good time to think and reflect. Once you’ve dropped out of college, you’re not going to go back.”

Decide What You Want

“Look yourself in the mirror and decide what’s going to make you happy,” says Kurtzig. “Don’t look at the business track or mommy track or lean in or lean out or anything else – decide what’s going to make you happy. If you’re not happy in business and in home life then no one around you is going to be happy.”

Kurtzig is nonplussed by constantly being feted as a female entrepreneur. “My whole thing is that I’d like to see us get to a gender neutral society,” she says. “Second time around I have a track record so everybody wants to throw money at us, it doesn’t have anything to do with being a woman, it’s just about, here’s a safe bet.”

You can have a family and build a $400 million company

“In my case I wanted both but I wanted a balance,” she says. “You give a busy person something to do and they’ll figure out how to get it done.

“When you have children that’s the most important thing,” she says. “You can always go change jobs but you can’t say, I think I’ll change these children I’ll go get some other ones.”

“At the 103th diaper I realized that the 1102nd was probably not going to be any different and I realized that I wanted to have a balance,” she says.