America is a country of immigrants who have empowered innovation throughout history, creating countless jobs and driving the economy forward. Here are some tips from an Indian couple who created a successful business in New York City from scratch, against many odds.
A Path To Entrepreneurship
As immigrants, we realized very early on that there was the fire in our bellies to do something impactful. The fire began to rekindle when we decided to move to America, 7,200 miles away from home. This fire burns in many of the immigrants who have moved countries in hope of creating a better life for themselves. The moment you channel your needs and dream big, you organically become innovative and creative.
Startup As A Weekend Experiment
As a couple, it was a hard decision for us to quit our jobs, so we bootstrapped our business as a weekend experiment for a year and made the most of our spare time. For immigrants, it is extremely hard to take that leap of faith to leave everything and get on with your startup. It means you have to quit all your other engagements and accept that you may not have a support system to back you up. Once you see the traction in your business and real needs being served, it motivates you to dedicate yourself to your dream with more conviction.
Engage Friends And Family
My husband and I were very lucky to have a set of friends in the U.S. who selflessly supported us in our initial days with customer research and constant feedback, promoting our business and being our backbone when we needed it the most. One advantage immigrants have is that you can connect to your friends and family in the same community who are perhaps facing the same challenges as you. While they may not be willing to invest as much time in a new venture, their sense of community and empathy will motivate them to offer their help.
Be Ready For Your Ego To Be Challenged
This is an important one. The immigrants who move to America are usually high achievers in their home countries. This normally means that, when they move, they have to sacrifice high-paying jobs in order to start their own venture. Not just that, but being an entrepreneur means there is a 99% chance of facing failure or rejection. But as long as you are open to all the feedback as a part of growth, it will only complement your business in the long run.
Go All In With No Support
Once again, this is a big decision. We moved to the U.S. five years ago and quit both our jobs to start a business from scratch while burning our savings. Not many immigrant couples had started a company together and, knowing the risk involved, it is very hard to go all in. Of course, immigrants have built very successful businesses in the U.S., and they inspired us. For example, Slack, Uber and Houzz all had at least one immigrant co-founder.
Do You Have A Story?
Many founders have experienced a problem and are only finding a solution to that problem while serving a larger need in society. Having a backstory works because this brings the necessary passion, authenticity and intensity to the solution you offer to the world.
Clarify What You Really Need For The Next Six Months
When we decided to go all-in as business partners, we made some short-term goals. It’s important to be clear on what is needed for the business to grow. We decided to join the Techstars NYC accelerator, and we got a lot more value through the accelerator program than we had anticipated. Some of the goals you may have could be a need for strong network, some experienced mentors and initial funds to continue investing in the product and marketing. Being clear on what you need will help you make the right decision at the right time. Your needs for your business will be unique, so being thoughtful at every stage is key.
Test, Learn, Build, Measure, Repeat
This formula is extremely crucial for startups because you don’t want to burn your limited resources by placing all your eggs in one basket. As a startup with multiple advisors and mentors, the amount of advice and ideas you receive may get overwhelming. You cannot try everything, so it is important to prioritize and compartmentalize the most logical ideas into smaller tests, monitor the results and continue to improve till you feel confident about implementing it at scale. The end goal is always a positive ROI.