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Immigration has long been a vital element of American entrepreneurship. In fact, 44.2% of the companies on the 2020 Fortune 500 list were founded by first- or second-generation immigrants. Nonetheless, moving to the United States is complex, and it often comes with serious obstacles, so you can imagine how challenging it can be to start a business as an immigrant.
At Valet Seller, we want every entrepreneur to have an opportunity to be a success, and we’ve provided some essential information and tips below for immigrants who are ready to take on business ownership in the U.S.
Take Small Steps
One of the biggest hurdles faced by immigrants who want to start a business is seeing a path to do so. Many find it difficult to dream, especially when they come from a low-income home or are not U.S. citizens. If that’s your situation, know that there is always a way forward — even if you don’t see it right now. Open a bank account, enroll in a business degree program, sell products or provide services out of your home, and apply for visas — do anything that can kickstart your business and put you in a better position for success.
Get the Right Visa
The U.S. uses a visa program to keep track of noncitizens who enter and live in the country, just like any nation. Several types of work visas are available to entrepreneurs. Extraordinary ability visas (i.e., EB-1 and 0-1) and immigrant investor visas (i.e., EB-5 and E-2) are the best options for those pursuing a startup business. Research thoroughly the various types of work visas and determine which one will work best for your situation.
Handle Other Legal Concerns
Other than obtaining a visa, you will need to deal with additional legal matters. And for business startups, there are many. Two of the most pressing matters are establishing a business structure and registering your business. If you choose to form an LLC or corporation, you will likely register your business as part of the process. An LLC or corporation will also help protect your personal assets and provide you with tax benefits. If you form a sole proprietorship, which is the easiest structure to establish, you may need to file a “doing business as” name (DBA) and trademark your business name; the same applies to forming a partnership.
In most cases, funding is needed to get a startup off the ground. Fortunately, there are options if you’re an immigrant. Venture capitalists and angel investors are often willing to work with noncitizens. As long as you reside in the U.S., you may qualify for a loan from the Small Business Administration (SBA). You could also look into the various grants tailored to assist immigrants and/or start a crowdfunding campaign.
Create a Marketing Strategy
While developing your business idea into a viable product or service is critical, marketing is equally as important. After all, it’s how people will know that your company exists and that you can provide them with what they need. Early in the process, begin developing your marketing strategy. Create a unique brand (e.g., logo, fonts, colors, etc.), launch a professional website, engage on social media, start a blog, sponsor an event in your community — do everything you can to get the word out about your business.
Your primary purpose for starting a business might be to provide for your family back home, but it’s easy to get so caught up in work that you forget to maintain relationships with loved ones. If your family is back home in The Philippines, for example, you have a ton of options to choose from: you can buy your family members calling cards to save on long-distance calls or stay connected for free through a video chat app like Skype. If you’re sending home money to support your family, Wise allows you to use your debit card to safely transfer funds in minutes. And don’t forget the occasional care package of items they need or enjoy — Easyship offers cheap and quick shipping to major Philippine cities like Manila or Cebu. Remember that nothing is more important than fostering healthy relationships with those you care for most.
If you’re looking to start a business in the U.S. as an immigrant, you have challenges ahead of you, but they’re nothing you can’t conquer. Consider the information and advice in this article, and keep researching to see what other steps you can take to get off to a strong start. Use that entrepreneurial spirit, persistence, and hard work to your advantage!