Op-Ed: 5 Reasons Why Immigrants Make Great Entrepreneurs

Ultimately, there are lessons entrepreneurs can learn from immigrants. Here's a look at five key observations.

I lived in the states for six years over thirty years ago and have been back many times since. In that period of time I have interviewed hundreds of successful immigrants and researched thousands of others.

One thing is clear: the entrepreneurial mindset of an immigrant is like no other.

As Forbes contributor Yatin Mundkur explains immigrant entrepreneurs are vital for American innovation. In fact, “Open borders brought Andrew Carnegie and Andy Grove to the U.S. They also brought Madeleine Albright and Henry Kissinger, a slew of German theoretical physicists to work on the Manhattan Project, and countless investors and entrepreneurs… Immigrants to the U.S. have been transforming the industrial geography and the technology landscape since the 1860s when Scottish-born Andrew Carnegie launched Keystone Bridge Company, which became the cornerstone of his mammoth steel empire.”

According to Harvard Business Review writer Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, “Half of the world’s skilled migrants go to America and in the past 20 years created 25% of all American venture-backed companies.”

Ultimately, there are lessons entrepreneurs can learn from immigrants. I believe their mindset may help you to smash whatever barriers are in the way of you creating wealth and happiness. Here’s a look at five reasons why:


  1. Unparalleled Work Ethic

    On arriving in the States, many immigrant entrepreneurs quickly realize that the streets are not paved with gold, so they get to work, often doing menial jobs to create cash flow and feed their families. Many times they take on 2 or 3 jobs at one time but never complain.

  2. Value Self-Education

    NBC Latino reports that “Immigrant children who came to the U.S. before they were teens do better in academic achievement and school engagement than native-born children, according to a new study by Johns Hopkins University, and the advantages extend to adulthood.” At the same time they educate themselves by buying business magazines, looking for opportunities and talking to others in the community about personal financial perspectives. They are not seeking out the least line or resistance or get-rich-quick schemes. Often they go back to basics and start businesses where there is a real demand for the product or service. Often times they may start a gardening service, car valeting, window cleaning or collecting waste cardboard or scrap metal; all real businesses that generate good cash flow. Very quickly they learn how to leverage this income into investments (e.g., rental property) or start their own restaurant or car repair business.

  3. No Self-Pity Here

    Generally speaking immigrants don’t feel sorry for themselves when they have to work their way up the ranks; in fact, they treat it like a challenge. They don’t care if they can’t get home every night to shower and watch television. More often than not they may choose to sleep on the workshop or office floor and make an early start in the morning to get a jump on their competitors.

  4. Street Smarts

    Many times, immigrants are already street wise; and if they are not, they become so, very quickly. They don’t fall for all the guff and hyperbole about how you can make millions overnight on the Internet. They know intuitively that to do this you need a certain skill set and mind set (i.e., not to mention that many of those making money on the Internet are doing so by showing others how to make money on the Internet). Instead they choose conventional, no-nonsense businesses that make money day one. By using their eyes and ears they seek out massive potential everywhere they look and move very quickly on their ideas. They have a “fire in the belly” and if you haven’t got this you need to cultivate it.

  5. Overcome All Odds

    Finally, many immigrant entrepreneurs know how to get in the zone and stay in the zone. They know there are no problems they can’t overcome and they do whatever it takes to succeed and make money. Nothing is too much trouble and they keep in the zone by thinking positive thoughts by using their imagination to “see” into the future, the things they want for themselves and their families.

This article has been edited and condensed.

Ron G Holland is a seasoned entrepreneur with over 40 years experience in business mentoring, personal development and the self-help industry. Holland is the Chairman of Eureka Financial and has created wealth and growth strategies for small business owners to organizations with up to £50m turnover. Holland is an acclaimed author with more than 20 books published to-date. Connect with Ron on Twitter.


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