Starting Out

Common Business Challenges for Immigrants and How to Overcome Them

Immigrants and refugees have a whole new set of problems to be dealt with once they arrive here.

Immigrants are people who move to a certain country of which they are not natives. The intention is usually to settle as permanent residents and to prosper economically. “Migrating to the land of the free.” Sounds like a dream come true. You would think that the immigrants would leave their local struggles behind when they migrate.

But that couldn’t be further from the truth. Immigrants and refugees have a whole new set of problems to be dealt with once they arrive here. 

The Problems:

Problem #1: Language

This is the most common of them all. The city speaks a language that you do not understand. Immigrants face a classic case of “fear of the unknown.”

Aside from the obvious confusion and anxiety, it is also counterproductive for businessmen. 

The language barrier limits them from communicating, negotiating, and promoting their startups.

Add to that the costs of taking ESL (English as a Second Language) classes, and we have the complete trifecta. 

Problem #2: Culture and Children

Being a parent and a businessman in a new country is no easy task. 

Children have a way of adapting to new cultures faster than their parents. They pick up the language, the norms, and behaviors from the new setting while parents continue to deal with the culture shock. This throws off the parent-child dynamic and affects their relationship.

However, it isn’t all fun and games for the kids either. Many parents report cases of bullying and discrimination against their wards as a result of cultural differences. 

Parents who want to help their children with academics will also have to make time, assuming they have the education necessary to do the same. In addition, the extra expenses of a (or more) dependent(s) further increase the pressure on them.

Problem #3: Housing

Immigrants have shown a recurring trend in how they deal with the ever-increasing prices of good housing.

Here’s how:

They live in big joint families. Two to three families living under the same roof is a pretty common occurrence among immigrants. This thing alone leads to further problems. 

For starters, a congested environment is no good for entrepreneurial work. Secondly, as the number of dependents starts to increase, the lesser risk you can take in your business ventures. Thirdly, the sharing of resources among so many people barely leaves room for anyone to optimize their utilities.

For example, often these big joint families share a single car – which leads us to the fourth problem.

Problem #4: Transportation

One car for a family of close to a dozen members? Doesn’t sound too ideal. Transportation is an understated problem faced by immigrants. 

Because most family members do not get to use their personal vehicles, they rely on public transport. 

But here’s the catch:

Unfamiliarity. It is incredibly frightening for many to navigate through road signs in a completely foreign city. Especially, if you don’t know how to read the language, to begin with. 

They also face difficulties in securing their driver’s licenses, as literacy and familiarity with English is a necessity. 

The Solutions:

Solution #1: Open-Mindedness

So many things to gain out of this. It is surprising how many problems come one step closer to being solved if immigrants actively choose to keep an open mind. 

On the business side, they adapt faster to the business customs and culture, helps people establish trust and opens doors for expanding the network.

On the family side, parents with open minds will propagate a healthy environment for their kids to grow.

Solution #2: Overcoming the Language Barrier

The power of language will ease the transition into the new country, anyway.

Taking classes to learn the language might be an extended expense but it is by far the worthiest of your money.

Here’s why:

This will help you learn more in your journey as an entrepreneur. Moreover, being able to build a productive and valuable network is a superpower that every businessman craves. The language barrier will make it near-impossible for anyone to achieve it.

This also means a better understanding of the business customs and therefore, more prosperity!

Solution #3: Coaching and Mentorship

Finding a coach or an advisor or a role model to assist you in the journey is like a shortcut. They will offer perspective and give credible advice. 

Think about it: 

This is a person who is already familiar with these problems and has already overcome them once (or more). They know the ins and outs of the problems immigrants face while starting businesses and will have uniquely curated solutions for individuals. 

And let’s not forget that you’ll need a friend. And not just anyone.

A friend who helps you stay accountable, avoid pitfalls, helps you tackle the problems efficiently, and expands your network in the process. A.k.a. A Coach/Advisor.

Finally, Solution #4: The Government’s Role

Immigrants especially have difficulty in accessing services. This is because many of them aren’t legal migrants.

Avoiding seeing doctors and refusing healthcare are some examples of necessities that aren’t met because of the fear of being deported.

Statistically, refugees and immigrants report a large number of cases of violence, rape, etc. for which they may not know how to seek help. They might even belong to cultures in which mental health issues might be taboo.

Governments, non-profit organizations and other service providers have the responsibility of ensuring that these immigrants have access to the resources to satisfy their needs and grow in the businesses.


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