One of the reasons I came to this country is that America is a land of opportunity and a country of freedom. One can easily think of so many examples: Condoleezza Rice, although born amid racism in the South, recalled her mother once told her, “You can be anything you want to be.” And the governor of California used to be a bodybuilder and movie actor — something you can’t find in other countries.
While all these stories are inspiring, I am often troubled by the questions that implicitly or explicitly come across to new entrepreneurs: “Have you done this before?” “What P&L responsibilities did you have in the past?” “Do you have experience as a CEO?” One person even told me openly (with good intentions) that I should be prepared to be replaced six months after I raise the funds for my own company!
For a first-time entrepreneur, these questions can be very intimidating — and if you are not strong enough, you can begin to doubt yourself. The most dangerous thing of all is that, after enough people start thinking this way, it can be mistaken as a truth. I have seen some founders looking for “a CEO who can lead the company to the next level” before they themselves even tried!
While it’s important to examine many facets of an entrepreneur’s background, especially if he or she is raising institutional funds, the very notion that founders cannot lead their companies to success is totally fallacious. If a bodybuilder and movie actor can be a governor, why can’t you and I be entrepreneurs?!
I encourage all first-time entrepreneurs to challenge themselves to learn fast, fail fast, and grow fast, in real time with their new ventures. Condoleezza’s mother is right. There is no limitation of our true potential, except the limitation of our own imagination!
CEO and Founder
Silicon Valley, Calif.
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