As a long-time advisor to new entrepreneurs here in the USA, I’ve long been impressed with the number that come here from other countries, and the positive traits that most of these seem to bring with them. Logically, I would expect these non native-born entrepreneurs to be at a big disadvantage, having to learn the culture here, local idiosyncrasies, and new relationships.
Yet, I find them often jumping to the forefront, with many notable successes, including Elon Musk (South Africa) at Tesla, Sergey Brin (Russia) at Google, and Arianna Huffington (Greece) at the Huffington Post. All of these seem to display a common set of traits, which I believe should be high on the priority list of every entrepreneur and business professional:
- Use multi-cultural insights and unique experiences. I find that most new business innovations are ideas from one discipline or culture, applied to another. Immigrants may have an advantage here, but everyone has to opportunity to apply what they know to different contexts, and all must continually broaden their thinking and knowledge base.
A good place to start is to choose to support a higher purpose, common to all cultures, such as protecting the environment, or helping the underprivileged. For example, TOMS Shoes pledges to match every pair of shoes purchased with free pair for a child in need.
Look at the world as today’s global market. With the advent of the internet, every opportunity is global, since every customer can see you from anywhere in the world. That means you need to tune your advertising, business model, and product features to meet multiple cultural norms, and have the broadest appeal. Think and act like a world traveler.
That doesn’t mean that you should try to rollout your business globally with your limited initial resources. But it does mean that every move be made with a global consideration. For certain, don’t choose a long-term strategy that does not scale from local to global.
Willing to make a serious commitment to a project. I still find too many people looking for a “side hustle,” hobby, or shortcut to success. Building a business requires hard work and sacrifice, so no part-time or just-for-fun efforts are likely to succeed. People starting with nothing in this country expect to have to work harder and longer to get ahead.
Go out of your way to meet and learn from others. Creating and growing a business today is no place for the lone inventor. In this world of rapidly evolving technologies, as well as changing customer expectations, it is hard for anyone to keep up with all they need to know. Success means seeking complementary partners and relationships.
Practice persistence in overcoming all obstacles. Every new business starts as an unpredictable series of challenges, so winners need a “never-give-up” mindset, and always living outside their comfort zone. Perhaps immigrants come with an advantage here in adapting to the unknown, but with passion, we can all climb any mountain.
Thankful for every small success along the way. It’s hard for anyone to stay positive and moving forward, while encountering a never-ending series of challenges. It’s key to celebrate each step of progress, and even failures, for the opportunity to learn. People who have had a long hard road before the business, tend to appreciate each progress.
Realize that a business requires much time and effort. Aspiring entrepreneurs need to all understand that starting a business is not for short-term returns. Investments all have risks, and require a bold commitment of key resources. People moving to unfamiliar environments understand this investment mentality, and are focused on a desired result.
From a business perspective, every professional needs to recognize that their domain is now global, not local, and expand their thinking and learning accordingly. This applies not only to finding customers, but also to manufacturing, financing, and future growth. It starts by not giving your company a name that means something totally offensive in some future important market.
In summary, there is no reason that people coming to your country from another one should have an advantage in business. If you adopt the right mindset, and do your homework, you too can compete in their domain, as they can in yours. Expand your focus and learning today, and we all win.
*** First published on Inc.com on 06/12/2021 ***