How to Start Your Own Business When You’re a Recent Immigrant
Guest post by Chelsea Lamb, image byPIXELS
If you have an entrepreneurial spirit and a great idea for a new business, you can start your own venture in the United States — even if you’ve just moved here recently. In fact, when you do, you’ll be following in the footsteps of countless other immigrants who’ve launched nearly one-quarter of all businesses in the U.S. It can be a long, arduous journey to see a startup to full fruition, but if you’ve made it this far, you are probably no stranger to challenges.
Where to Start
Every great business begins with a great idea. Weigh your concept thoughtfully to determine whether the market is already saturated or if you have a gem that people are just waiting to discover.
After you decide what products or services your business will offer, you need to research the market for it and identify the customers you will be targeting. Next, size up your competition to determine who they are, where they are, and how you can out-perform them. You should also consider getting advice from the professionals at Solomon Bruce Consulting, who understand the unique challenges you face and can give you a leg up on your competition.
You also need to decide what business structure your company should have. If you plan on owning and operating the business yourself, a sole proprietorship may be best. If you’re starting the business with one or more people, you can choose either a general or limited partnership, depending on the roles and involvement of the partners. Another option is to become a limited liability company, which combines the best features of the other structures. It’s also more flexible and includes helpful tax benefits.
What Visa to Have
If you are not yet a citizen, you probably came here on one of the following visas:
- A student visa (F-1, M-1, or J-1 visa)
- A temporary work visa (H-1B or B-1)
- An Extraordinary Ability or Advanced Degree visa (EB-1 or EB2).
- An investor visa (EB-2 or EB-5)
There are, of course, other visa types, but these are the most common paths to living and working in the U.S. You need a green card to stay and work here permanently, and although you do not need to be a citizen to own your own business, it may simplify and facilitate the process.
To start your own business, Free Advice explains there are two particular visas you can use: the E-2 and L-1 visas. Keep in mind that while these visas allow you to maintain residency in the U.S. for an extended period of time, they also require you to simultaneously maintain residency in your home country.
Where to Look for Funding
If you have a bank account, green card, and an SSN, you can apply for a loan through the Small Business Association. The SBA connects entrepreneurs with lenders, programs, and grants, and also provides you with the resources and help you need along the way.
How to Stay Connected
There is truly no place like home, so when the time comes for a visit, do some research to make arrangements that meet your needs. As an example, if your family is in Quezon City, Philippeans, you could compare flights and other travel arrangements through websites like Hotwire. When you want to send a balikbayan box, use a similar website to find the best deals on couriers. Once earning a regular income, if you are like many new immigrants, you might intend to share funds with your family, friends, or community, and you can similarly do research before you send money to choose the best option for your – and your family’s – needs.
However you keep in touch, be honest and realistic about how the business is going. Insider points out it’s a common misconception in some other countries that money flows freely in the United States, and people may assume you are doing better financially than you actually are. Remember it takes time for most businesses to become profitable no matter where you live, but once you succeed you can support your family.
Starting your own business from the ground up is exciting, intimidating, rewarding, and a lot of hard work. Fortunately, you can stand on the shoulders of people who have come before you, learn from them, and persevere until your dream becomes a reality.