Tips a Successful Immigrant Entrepreneur Should Adopt

Martin Basiri, CEO and co-founder of Apply Dashboard. ApplyBoard is on a mission to educate the world.

Immigrants are natural risk takers. They take the bold step of leaving what is familiar and safe and venturing into a new country, a new community, and often a new language in search of new possibilities. These are strong business characteristics.

Some of the most successful companies were founded by people who first set foot in the United States as students. A study by the National Foundation for American Policy found that nearly a quarter of billion-dollar startups had a founder who was once an international student. The impact that international students and immigrants bring should not be overlooked.

When I immigrated to Canada, I started with $6,000 in my name. I had a high tolerance for risk when I decided to build a tech startup. The strength and courage I gained from starting a business from scratch alongside my brothers is undeniable and well worth the risk. No matter what happens in the initial stages of your new startup, it’s important not to let fear of getting started get in the way. Taking the first step is the hardest step.

The power to ask for help

There will always be multiple unknowns that any entrepreneur will have when running a tech startup. This can be even more complicated for immigrants who are taking a leap of faith as entrepreneurs.

Every new entrepreneur creating a startup has no choice but to accept mistakes early in their career because every misstep is a learning opportunity. Take advantage of your student mindset and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Many people love to help and see others succeed.

In the early days, entrepreneurs have to figure out what a product or service does and how it can generate sustainable income, while also figuring out the infrastructure, the finances, and how the business will run. To do this, entrepreneurs need to stay curious and feel more comfortable asking for help. In addition, aspiring immigrant entrepreneurs can leverage their contacts and connections in their home country to gain an advantage in introducing talent or critical first clients.

Venture out of your comfort zone

Being an entrepreneur can be lonely, especially in the early stages of building a startup. Being both an entrepreneur and an immigrant can be even more isolating. One of the best things about entrepreneurship is the community and relationships you build when you are in the process of building your business. It is important for entrepreneurs to join an incubator or accelerator. Your unique experience and insights are valuable, but you can’t do it all alone. Lean on resources and mentorship, and hug the people who want to help you. An aspiring immigrant entrepreneur can find refuge in the tech industry and can grow their network tenfold in the first year of launching and scaling their startup.

One might think that creating a startup is too ambitious with the language, cultural and community barriers that come with moving to a new country. However, I think it’s better to jump straight into creating a startup if that’s your passion. Building a tech startup can help you learn the language and culture at a fast pace. The experience will accelerate your integration for years.

Learning about a new culture in a new country is important, but it’s also important to accept being a stranger, the feeling of uncertainty, and your new perspective. Usually in this headspace, you’ll be able to challenge yourself and dive headfirst into an exciting project.

Focus on a mission-oriented mindset

To succeed in a startup, it is essential to feel passion for the project. Find a problem or issue that is close to your heart and then find a way to solve it. All entrepreneurs should challenge themselves to try to figure it out even better than their original idea and set new goals on how to improve.

Being a mission-driven organization can help attract passionate and dedicated team members. There are some things that money can’t buy, and an impactful mission to work and strive for every day is not something every company can boast of. Find that mission that goes beyond you and goes beyond just profit, but is something that drives an entire startup forward.

There are so many problems worth solving. Make sure the impact of the solution you’re building not only leads to a thriving business, but more importantly, gives you and other team members growing the startup the intense satisfaction and gratification that will keep the sustainable startup.

Persistence is key when raising funds

Raising capital for a startup is one of the most difficult things entrepreneurs face. Gather input from other tech entrepreneurs and ask them how they designed their presentation to ensure it makes sense from every business angle. Remember that investors have heard thousands of pitches. It is also important to remember to connect with the right investors who will be most motivated and captivated by your potential business idea.

Aspiring immigrant entrepreneurs may face some kind of language barrier, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be good storytellers. Enthusiasm, passion and love for what you do should always be evident in your presentation. Any aspiring entrepreneur will hear “no” often. It’s a fact of doing business, but don’t let that deter you. Keep a positive outlook and seek out those who resonate with your mission.

Being an entrepreneur has helped me progress and has boosted my life in many ways. The impact that entrepreneurship offers and the learning experience it has given me is invaluable.


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