Most of us have pondered this many times before. I believe it is important for every person to have a dream, it is what makes us different and special.
When I was just 4 years old in 1986, my parents decided to move our family to the United states from Colombia. At the time, Colombia was going through treacherous times in the 80s and 90s. My parents decided to leave our home country in order to ensure better schooling opportunities for my siblings and I.
With very little close to none English, both my parents had taken lowly jobs, working 16 hours a day just to provide enough for my sister and I. Eventually my parents had saved up enough to start their own business. With they money they had saved, my parents would purchase clothing garments in Downtown Los Angeles and sell them outside of L.A. They would sell them at a markup at various swap meets.
At such an early age, the traits of being an entrepreneur were in me. Often times, I would wake up at 4:00 A.M. to help set up shop at the swap meet. I would help my parents bag the clothes our customers would purchase and thank them with a great big smile.
Today, I am 35 years old and run a successful online marketing company. I am not here to plug my services, nor am I here to boast about my success. I am here to share what I have learned from my own experiences as an entrepreneur.
In this blog post I will go over 8 keys to becoming a successful immigrant entrepreneur.
For us immigrants, language can be a huge obstacle, however, you must believe in your business. When I speak with someone about my business or even with my mom, they always can feel the passion and really see the passion I have for it. Confidence is not a front we can just put up whenever we need it.
I had to teach myself on believing in my business and ultimately in myself. A few years ago I read a book about a successful businessman. In the book the author went to on to say what we are today is a product of what we repeatedly do, therefore success is habit.
This really stuck with me. Soon I began acquiring new habits such as: waking up at 6:00 A.M. to go to the gym, speaking in public, eating high protein/low carb diet, and the hardest task I have had to do which is positive self talk.
Having a company in California has brought us team members from different ethnic backgrounds. We also have team members in differents part of the world like; Colombia, Mexico, and India. Having a multicultural/multilingual team has definitely expanded our outreach to other groups where English is not their first language.
A Great Attitude
In my opinion, having a great attitude is the most important, it is above everything else. As an immigrant in the United States you are faced with various challenges in just about every aspect of life let alone starting a business. Having a great attitude can be used as a tool because you can use it to face adversity, eventually it will become second nature and be a part of your personality.
I love my business a lot and a I know that my team members depend on it to provide for their families. In the past 8 years I have been sick many times. However, I do not let my business partners ever know about it. Last year I got a urinary infection causing me a lot of pain. I visited the doctors and was put on medication, but nobody in my team ever knew about it. The reason why is because I am not going to let a little pain affect my attitude. If I come into work with a negative energy it will affect everyone else. Your attitude is contagious, make sure that you have the right attitude that is worth catching.
Remember To Have Pride In What You Do
My father taught me this lesson. Having been raised in poverty in Bogota, Colombia, my father taught us to always be proud of who we are. As an entrepreneur, you must have pride in the work you are doing and always aim to overdeliver.
I remember one of my first clients. They were a small business that could only pay $500 month for search engine optimization and search engine marketing. I was so happy to have them has a client that it did not matter to me what they were paying. I was solely excited about being paid for doing something I really love doing. My goal with this client was to get them more traffic to their website and help them sell more. They loved the special attention I was giving them, that soon after they became a $1,000 a month client, and then a $2,000 a month client.
Today my team strives to overdeliver with every client and to do everything with pride and heart. We send monthly reports out in the form of screencast videos showing what we actually worked on. Instead of the traditional emailing the client when something goes wrong, we make sure to call them and speak to them about it.
You Are Who You Hang Out With
Growing up, my mom was never happy with the type of individuals I would hang around with. I remember her always telling me “Show me who your friends are, and I will tell you who you are.” Today, I look back at those times and I could not agree more with her. In business, us entrepreneurs are like athletes who need coaches and mentors.
Many people have came to me asking how and where can they find a mentor. This always brings a smile to my face because I remember my first mentors; Robert Kiyosaki, Wallace Wattles, Napoleon Hill, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, etc… Coming from immigrant parents, who were not raised in the US system, meant I had to go and find these mentors myself. I did this by purchasing their books at the local bookstore.
The entrepreneurs of today are very fortunate because they have all the free information in the world at the tips of their fingers. Even if you were to not have internet access, a mobile device, or a computer, you can always go to the public library and use it for free.
To earn respect, you have to give respect. This is something we were taught in the early years of grade school. After learning this, we think respect should be mutual as it should be, however that is not always the case. I have had a lot of people disrespect me, especially working in telesales when I was a teenager. One thing is very clear, you must remember to remain professional, even if the other side is being disrespectful to you. Your business will never gain anything if you let your emotions take over.
Keep In Touch With Loved Ones
As immigrants we still have family overseas, moreover, in countries where the internet is not so reliable, causing connection to be difficult at times.
As an international entrepreneur now, I am constantly traveling and calling my family has been something I have had to put in my calendar. Being a resourceful businessman, I have found numerous ways to stay in touch even when long distance. Speaking with my family reminds me why I started this business in the first place.
Never Give Up
Immigrants need to adapt to new life, language and culture. It is not an easy journey. Immigrant business owners will face many obstacles. Embrace these differences and challenges. Turn them around and utilize them to grow your business.
Immigrant entrepreneurship has become widely recognized as an important factor for both the global and local economy. According to researchers, in 2013 immigrants made up 28 percent of local business. 40 percent of fortune 500 companies were founded by immigrants.
One of the promises of the US is that anyone can make it with hard work and dedication. The United States is truly the land of opportunity.