What Makes Immigrants Great Entrepreneurs? Skills and Traits That Drive Success

ethnic couple

What do Sergey Brin, Ariana Huffington, and Elon Musk have in common? Aside from being highly successful and, not to mention, rich, these three personalities are all immigrants. Bring, before founding Google with Larry Page, emigrated from the Soviet Union after facing growing anti-Semitism. Huffington grew up in Athens then studied in the United Kingdom before becoming a politician and heading a media empire in the United States. Musk spent much of his childhood in South Africa.

Australia has its own breed of migrants with strong entrepreneurial passion. According to the 2018 GCU Migrant Small Business Report, out of the more than 2 million small businesses that operate in Australia, at least 620,000 were owned by migrants.

Immigrants not only create jobs for themselves when they arrive in their new homeland. They also create countless other jobs for fellow immigrants and for other working adults in Australia.

Moreover, Brin, Huffington, and Musk were not outliers. Immigrant entrepreneurs become successful in their chosen fields regardless of the challenges that face them every day.

Here are the traits and skills that enable immigrants to become successful entrepreneurs:

Love of Learning

Language is one barrier that can prevent immigrants from starting their own businesses and attaining success in their new homeland. They immediately overcome it by learning on their own through practice or listening by ear and by hiring a reliable private English tutor or coach.

However, for immigrants, learning does not stop after they have become well-acquainted with the language. They continue to enrich their skills and knowledge within their chosen industry and their community.

In the developed world, much has been said about the diminishing value of a college degree. Billionaires like Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates are, after all, college dropouts. However, many immigrants still see the importance of having good-quality education to access the best opportunities.

Many successful entrepreneurs also believe that educational attainment is a sign of love for learning.

Developing Resilience

Immigrants have to face enormous challenges that other people do not encounter on a daily basis. Securing a loan, for example, is tougher for newcomers compared to native-born entrepreneurs. They are also not familiar with government regulations and, therefore, find it much harder to get necessary permits and licenses. On top of business-related problems, migrant entrepreneurs also experience racism, cultural differences, and, sometimes, social isolation.

Resilience to immigrants is not hard-wired, but a necessity for survival. They incorporate this trait into how they run their business.

In business, resilience is defined as the ability to thrive in challenging circumstances — such as an economic recession and a global pandemic — and immediately recover through ingenuity. The resilience of a business amid the constantly evolving market is a valued trait because it ensures continuation and preservation.

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Tap and Connect Distinctive Markets

Immigrants are able to think globally which enables them to identify new niches and expand their businesses to more clients.

Many immigrants start businesses to sell products that have demand but not available in their new home country. The immigrant grocery shop brings foreign goods to local consumers.

Entrepreneurs who emigrated to a new country are also able to bridge the gap between two very different markets. Because they have insider familiarity of both markets and apply it to products and services that will appeal to consumers from multiple countries.

Moreover, because of their background, they also have international connections from the country where they were born. They can continue to do business, even if they have migrated somewhere else because they can work with local business owners and talents.

Willingness and Desire to Make Positive and Lasting Changes

Immigrants choose to leave the nation from where they were born and grew up to pursue a better future. They know what they are running from and, therefore, pursue changes that will ensure that they will never be trapped in the same circumstances.

They become more open-minded, and they are more willing to adapt to changes within their environment.

Francis Dinha, the CEO of OpenVPN, told Entrepreneur that immigrants do not have the luxury to try to fail. When things start to fall apart, they have to immediately pivot and minimize losses. The business becomes adaptable that way.

Diversity Leads to Innovation

When immigrants are allowed to thrive and succeed, the entire nation benefits.

Diversity has been proven to inspire innovation among entrepreneurs. One survey that involved more than 1,700 companies across eight countries found that those with the most diverse workforce did financially better than those that hired employees from mostly similar backgrounds. The same survey found that companies that were the most diverse were also the most innovative across all countries.

Running a business is not easy, but there are more challenges that immigrant entrepreneurs face that prevent them from achieving success. However, they persevere and become triumphant because they develop and utilize the skills and traits needed to achieve their goals. Aspiring entrepreneurs, wherever they may be starting from, can learn a lot from immigrant business owners.


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