A Russian entrepreneur shares 7 practical tips that immigrant startup founders should follow to make it in America

katya dorozhkinaKatya Dorozhkina

Starting your own business from scratch can be daunting, but doing it in a brand-new country can seem all but impossible.

Luckily, countless immigrants have founded startups and small businesses in the US already, like Katya Dorozhkina, a Moscow-born entrepreneur. In 2015, Dorozhkina founded Starta Accelerator, an expansion of New York-based VC firm Starta Ventures. The accelerator focuses on helping Eastern European startups that are navigating the US business world for the first time.

With a decade of experience in entrepreneurship and venture capital, Dorozhkina knows what it takes for a startup to succeed.

Many of today's most valuable companies were founded by immigrants in the US. According to a new report by research organization New American Economy, 45% of Fortune 500 companies were founded by immigrants or their children, including tech giants like Amazon, Apple, Tesla, and Google. And while the administration of president Donald Trump has taken a hardline approach to immigration, potential founders from all over the world continue to enter the country in search of the American dream.

Whether or not you're new to the US, Dorozhkina's seven tips for entrepreneurs may help you make the right decisions, secure funding, or even become the next Google.

{{}}

View As: One Page Slides

1. Think big.

1. Think big.

According to Dorozhkina, Russia's startup climate isn't as open as America's. That's why so many entrepreneurs come to the US to build their startups. One of the first mistakes they make is to understate their idea or abilities.

"Be ambitious, or your investors and potential clients won't take you seriously," Dorozhkina told Business Insider. "In America, everything is BIG — buildings, cars, and dreams, so you have to THINK BIG too; embrace this type of mindset."

2. Constantly promote yourself.

2. Constantly promote yourself.

Business culture in other countries — especially in Eastern Europe — doesn't allow for entrepreneurs to talk about their skills and talents openly. In Russia, says Dorozhkina, talking about yourself too much is seen as showing off. In the American business world, though, it's the norm.

To get your business off the ground in America, learn how to talk about yourself.

"Take communication lessons, develop your voice, and learn to speak about yourself if this doesn't come to you naturally," says Dorozhkina. "In the US, being loud is a part of business culture: You have to be confident about yourself and your business, actively engage with people, and constantly promote yourself."

3. Find a local advisor.

3. Find a local advisor.

One of Starta Accelerator's features for international entrepreneurs is its guidance. For those who have a great idea but don't have a grasp of US business culture or how to talk to investors, an American advisor can serve as a bridge.

Dorozhkina stresses the importance of learning "how to play the 'game,' otherwise most people make silly mistakes." Those silly mistakes include making connections that lead nowhere and ultimately don't further your startup.

"Be careful when choosing your local US partner: unlike you, they are probably exaggerating their abilities or connections," says Dorozhkina.

4. Don't be afraid to ask for help.

4. Don't be afraid to ask for help.

According to Dorozhkina, business in the US is more than transactional: it's about helping others succeed. Hopefully, they'll help you succeed as well.

"Be persistent, fair, and understand that reputation and relationships in the US matter most," Dorozhkina says. "Don't be afraid to ask, but make sure to offer something in return — give back."

5. Do your research.

5. Do your research.

Placing too much trust in a single business coach, accountant, or assistant can lead to missed opportunities. If you do your own research, you might find, say, a new marketing strategy that a competitor already thought of.

Dorozhkina has seen entrepreneurs make this mistake. "Some immigrants also come with an 'I know it all' attitude and then burn out when they underestimate the country that has (almost) seen it all," she says.

Dorozhkina said that some Russians she knew had that "I know it all" mindset, including herself. When she first came to the US to work in marketing on Wall Street, she realized she quickly needed to let go of her ego in order to learn new skills.

6. Focus on your advantages.

6. Focus on your advantages.

Along with thinking big and promoting yourself, another thing that separates the American business world is focusing on the positive, says Dorozhkina. When talking about your next big idea, there's no need to undersell it by mentioning what it's lacking or what competitors have already thought of.

"Focus on your advantages: what you can offer and what you can control versus what you don't have," she says. "America is open to those who bring in the best."

7. Be courageous, bold, and persistent.

7. Be courageous, bold, and persistent.

Dorozhkina's most important tip has to do with attitude. According to her, success comes to those with character who persist more than anyone else, but remain open to new ideas.

"Courage, boldness, and persistence are also at the top of this list," she says. "The biggest challenge is in the mindset. It's difficult to change that overnight, but being open and humble will help."

Add Comment()
Comments ()
X
Sort By:
Be the first one to comment.
We have sent you a verification email. This comment will be published once verification is done.