The Immigrants’ Guide to Starting a Business

Guest post written by Courtney from Gig Spark

Photo by RF._.studio from Pexels

Getting a good start in a new country can be a serious challenge. You have to find a supportive community, navigate an unfamiliar culture, and find opportunities to thrive that may be few and far between. Indeed, immigrants often find they’re unable to gain employment in the field they’re experienced in due to language barriers, licensing differences, and unconscious bias. For many, a better solution is to simply make their own way and start a small business. 

This route offers many benefits to immigrants, but it can also be a daunting process. Dropner Graphic Explainer shares a guide to what you need to know to start your own small business in the US. 


Figure Out Your Business Structure

One of the most important first steps for small business owners is deciding on a business structure. Most small businesses will either start out as sole proprietorships or limited liability companies (LLCs). There are pros and cons to each of these. 

A sole proprietorship allows you to dive in right away and saves startup money, but it can put you in a more risky legal position. Registering as a limited liability company gives you a layer of legal protection and tax benefits but can be tedious and expensive to set up. To alleviate the stress and some of the costs, reach out to a formation service like ZenBusiness.com to guide you through the process. Before hiring, look over ZenBusiness.com reviews to give you a better idea of the kind of service you can expect.


Seek Out Funding 

All business owners have to fund their endeavor one way or another, but the options can be a lot slimmer for immigrants than for US citizens. For example, immigrants who have just gotten started in the US financial system might not have established credit, which can make it hard to obtain a fair loan. Consider opening a credit card, spending only what you can afford, and consistently paying it off in full each month. This will help you establish the credit baseline you need to make a good impression with lenders. 

You can also look into using a crowdfunding site to raise money for your business. This can be a great way to get community support while laying a marketing foundation. When people contribute to a business’s crowdfund, they tend to feel more invested and interested in that business’s success. If your crowdfund page takes off, leverage that space by including opening dates, promotions, and updates about your company’s progress in the profile notes.


Anticipate and Overcome Barriers 

Your small business can thrive in the US, but you need to be prepared for some of the barriers that may show up along the way. For example, if English isn’t your first language, and you haven’t already taken English courses, now might be a good time to do so. Not only will this make it easier for you to communicate with customers and clients, but it will also help you to protect yourself as a business owner. Poor English can make you a target for scammers, who will take advantage of the language barrier to put you in a precarious position. 

Finally, if you plan to stay in the US indefinitely, it may make sense to apply for citizenship. This designation can open up a lot of doors for you and make it easier and simpler to run your business. However, it’s also a huge — and often expensive — endeavor, and it’s not worth it for everyone. Investigate the pros and cons of obtaining citizenship before you commit to this path. 

Running a business puts you in the drivers’ seat of your own career, which can be an invaluable move for immigrants. If you have a skill or passion you can turn into your own business, it may be your best path forward. We hope this article helps you figure out if starting your own company is your next step, and if so, how to move forward with confidence. 

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