Tips for Immigrants Who Want to Start a Small Business

One role immigrants don’t get enough good publicity about in the news is the fact that immigrant entrepreneurs play a huge role in hiring a large swath of the U.S. labor force. The exact numbers are staggering, too. Nearly 6 million workers are employed by immigrant-owned businesses, according to a report released by the New American Economy.1

Immigrant business owner

While starting up a business as an immigrant in the U.S. has its challenges, those who take the entrepreneurial plunge can also find sweet success from doing so, as well.

“Our system certainly doesn’t make it easy for immigrant entrepreneurs—but still, immigrants work hard, they start businesses, and they create jobs for American workers,” said John Feinblatt, Chairman of New American Economy.

13 Tips for Foreign Entrepreneurs Who Want to Start a Small Business in the U.S.

The following tips were gathered from reputable and reliable news sources, immigrant service agencies, and from the very words of foreign entrepreneurs themselves.

1. Research for the best business location

One thing most foreign entrepreneurs can agree on is that the U.S. provides small business opportunities over a vast area with different incentives that cannot be found anywhere else in the world. In many cases, all an immigrant entrepreneur needs to do is research an area they might like to locate a business to and check to see if there is an economic development zone, small business incubator, or small business development center there to partner with in order to get tax incentives, grants, free land, or any other kind of assistance.

2. Hire a good immigration attorney

If you don’t already have a good immigration attorney to help you apply for visas and go over intricate immigration details with, then we highly recommend either Daniel P. Hanlon or Immigration Attorney Susan Lane, whose legal practices focus on immigration, work visas, employment-based immigration, and nationality law.

3. Do market research

Obviously, you’ll have to do research the market, perhaps conduct a pilot study to find out if there is consumer interest, create a business plan, and market your business.

4. Be a part of the local community

Economic experts highly recommend that foreigners interested in succeeding in starting up a small business in the U.S. should immerse themselves and assimilate to the American, regional, and local culture as much as possible.

Meeting with business team

5. Master the language

You’ve also mastered the language, right? We’re not kidding. You’ll have to communicate with your workforce, so this ought to be a forgone conclusion.

6. Getting fit

You’ll also have to train your body to hold up to the rigors of long days, especially if you need to create endless manifests of equipment and products that must be delivered to inspectors on a deadline. You’ll be worn out. But, by the same token be good to yourself – eat, drink, and sleep when you can!

7. Quick to adapt

Learn to be flexible and able to adapt to quick changes that confront you. Make sure you have a great group of local advisors. Learn to localize your brand, products, and business.

8. Play the game like locals do

If your buyer or suppliers start to view any sort of deviation from normal Americanized business protocols, they may just view this as a weakness in your business model and begin to manipulate you for better pricing. Don’t let this happen. Stay steadfast in the pricing structure you worked hard to create, unless it gets criticized by your advisors. These same advisors can also help you address those who are trying to manipulate you.

9. Hire carefully

Also, be careful of wolves in sheep’s clothing within your own business. You’ll have to be very selective in terms of who you hire for sales and marketing. It may take a few attempts, but you’ll find the right crew that will work with integrity and that you can come to find trustworthy.

Give back to the local community

10. Give back

When it is feasibly possible, be sure to give back to your community. Whether through charitable donations or sponsoring a local youth athletics team, your efforts won’t go unnoticed, trust us. If you are not anywhere near being in the black yet, consider doing voluntary charitable work, such as cleaning up a section of highway or some other form of charitable work. A lot of times, this community work will serve several purposes at once. Not only will it help you build contacts and network, but it may help you develop potential customers or even business partners.

11. Rise above the competition

Create a solution to a problem, or provide unprecedented service in your field. You don’t want to just be Business A, B, or C. You want to go above and beyond your competition and set yourself apart from the rest – be the best!!! If you make a product, make it the best. If you make a service (such as food), make it so good that you set yourself apart from the others.

12. Be the best salesperson

Be your own company’s best salesperson. The experts we hear from say you should be so passionate about your business that you’ll be able to sell your wares and offering to little old ladies and babies (okay, maybe we only jest there, but you get the drift).

13. Have an online and social presence

Lastly, in our digital age it is hugely important to have an online and social presence. For instance, I went out for a sandwich with a buddy the other night and he told me where to meet him. The new and very posh-looking establishment had all the entrapments of a fine bar and grill, but you couldn’t even find them on Facebook. I was ready to “check in,” give them a free review, and a thumbs up to help their business, but they had already shot themselves in the foot. Don’t be like them!

1“Nearly 6 Million Workers Employed at Immigrant-Owned Businesses, New Report Finds” published in New American Economy, October 2016.


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