The Case for Immigrant Entrepreneurship

The average immigrant is risk averse. We've left our homeland (in my case, Liberia), and in many instances, our possessions to start from zero. We're chasing the American Dream and will do anything to improve the quality of life for ourselves and for our families. When an immigrant ventures into entrepreneurship, something special happens. We get to merge our experience of overcoming adversity with our passion to make it big in America. We often feel the weight of the world on our shoulders, knowing that our success means the world to the family and friends we've left behind. It's the perfect time and mindset to jump in and start your own business.

The Language Barrier

Some immigrants shy away from entrepreneurship because they perceive that the language barrier is a deal breaker. The truth is that you can succeed even if you start out speaking zero English. Many immigrants understand and appreciate that it benefits them, their families and communities when they eventually learn to speak English. The mindset I want to tackle is that you have to wait until you speak perfect English before you can become an entrepreneur in America. That's not the case at all. You can overcome the language barriers and become successful.

Consider putting a team in place. Use interpreters to help translate to that team. Perhaps some of your team members originate from your country, and you can speak your native language in the early stages. Did you know that you can assemble a team even if you don't have money to pay them in the beginning? The key is to sell your idea to them, motivate potential members to join you, and agree to pay them when you start making money. You can form partnerships, pay commissions or give them shares in your company. An attorney can help you structure a deal that's right for you and your business.

The Poverty Mindset

One of the biggest challenges that some immigrants face is overcoming the poverty mindset. If you relocate from a country where the basic necessities of life is scarce at best, it can be difficult to think and grow rich. (By the way, Napolean Hill's book, Think and Grow Rich, is helpful in this area.) The problem is, a poverty mindset will hinder you from reaching your income and business goals. You will decline or delay making crucial decisions that can grow your business because you're afraid to lose money. You won't make the necessary investments to grow, because you don't want to financially end up where you were in the country you left behind. You don't want to fail and bring more poverty on yourself and your family. This is a poverty mindset. Your job as an immigrant entrepreneur is to fight and overcome this mindset daily. It's a top business activity tied to your current and future revenues. If you don't do the work to change your mind, you may end of living far below your potential.

The Crabs in Your Life

What happens when you have a bucket of crabs? One crab will start to escape the bucket, but the others will grab it and pull it down. Another one may try again, but the others will quickly pull it down. They all end up in the cooking pot as a result. This "crab mentality" is often the downfall of many immigrants who aspire to be entrepreneurs. You're passionate about about starting your own business, and share your ideas with family and friends. Then, the crabs start pulling you down. "You don't have money!" "You have a good job in the factory, why are you doing this?" "You're not from here, who will invest in you?" "This Country hates us, do you think Americans will do business with you?" Dumping the crabs in your life is both easy and difficult. It's painful when they're your family, and "getting rid of them" is not an option. When it's easy and ethical to do, remove the crabs out of your life. When it's hard or impossible, work on building a fortress around your mind. Build yourself up spiritually, emotionally and physically to commit to entrepreneurship. Find like minded immigrants and non-immigrants as friends and mentors.

I encourage every immigrant, no matter where you're from or what you have, to follow your dream of becoming a successful entrepreneur. The only thing holding you back is you. Change your mind.