Do you know something about business? Are you good at listening and giving advice to others? Have a knack for recognizing good ideas for new businesses?
If you answered yes to those questions, you should consider becoming a venture capitalist, or “VC.”
You don’t necessarily need to be the one with the money. VCs work in institutions that specialize in giving large amounts of long-term capital to small businesses. They look for startups that might have a limited track record but also have the potential for substantial growth. Many VCs provide managerial and technical expertise.
Being a VC is a lot like being a psychiatrist, said Ann Lamont, a managing partner at Oak HC/FT. VCs work with entrepreneurs to weather the ups and downs of the business environment and provide “stable, good advice over a long period of time.”
Lamont believes women, in particular, make good venture capitalists because of their ability to juggle multiple priorities and be good listeners. Yet to date, women are under-represented in the field. And some experts believe that harms women-owned businesses, which might attract more investment from female VCs than they do from males.
Tips for aspiring VCs
Lamont got her start in the field at age 24, when she left Silicon Valley to work in a venture capital firm in Westport, Connecticut.
“My friends thought I was absolutely crazy,” she recalls. At the time, not many women worked as VCs. But Lamont was able to leverage her own interest in health-related businesses and eventually founded her own health care investment group. The group focuses on investing in health care information services and financial services technology.
Starting early, developing close professional relationships and building deep expertise helped her succeed as a VC. “You need to figure out how to differentiate yourself and how to make yourself valuable to someone early on,” she advises.
Lamont promises the effort will be worth it: “It is the most amazing … exciting, always changing career you could possibly imagine.”