From the founder of an e-discovery firm to restaurateurs, foreign-born business owners explain how they have made it in America.

NAJEEB GHAURI

Founder, Chief Executive and Chairman

NetSol Technologies Inc., Calabasas

When did you arrive in the United States, and why did you come?

I was born in Lahore, Pakistan. I arrived in January 1977 as a student. I attended Eastern Illinois University to get my bachelor’s degree and then stayed, moving to California to get my master’s in business administration at Claremont Graduate School.

Did you intend to return to your native country at the time?

Yes; originally I intended to return back after getting my master’s and some corporate career experience in the U.S.

Do you now?

No; I became a U.S. citizen in 1990 and am settled here with my family.

Why did you start your business in the United States instead of your native country?

By establishing a business here, I have been able to be closer to my home country, in a way. I realized that it would be good to start here and then expand out, even to Pakistan. With my earlier 15 years of corporate experience, I learned a lot about the U.S. system and used that to get started here first before opening up operations in Pakistan.

What does NetSol do in Pakistan?

NetSol has a major development-programming technology campus in Lahore, my native city, which is state of the art with about 600 programmers and engineers working there. They serve our clients worldwide.

What’s the worst thing about starting and running a business in the United States?

High regulation, high taxation and an extremely competitive environment.

What’s the best thing?

You can be what you want to be. If you play by the rules, follow the system, take risks, work hard, and with a little bit of luck, you are bound to succeed without winning any lottery. New ideas, innovation and imagination are encouraged, and people appreciate, recognize and reward you for doing good works.

What were the biggest surprises?

That America is a true land of opportunity. Someone as a foreigner with a modest background and a humble beginning, with determination and positive attitude, can do just as well as any American. One doesn’t need to have a rich background or huge inheritance to become a successful businessman.

What advice would you give someone from your native country about starting a business here?

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