The United States has long been a hub for hopeful entrepreneurs from foreign countries to experiment, innovate, and establish fruitful businesses. As of 2019, the United States is home to 3.2 million immigrant entrepreneurs who employ a total of 8 million workers.
Yet as much as the United States relies on international entrepreneurs investing in American soil, it isn’t always easy for these leaders to make their dreams a reality. From financial hurdles to cultural differences, immigrant entrepreneurs have their work cut out for them.
However, many shining success stories keep Indian entrepreneurs particularly passionate about becoming American businesspeople. As of 2022, 90 Indian immigrants have led startups to Unicorn status in Silicon Valley – one of the largest groups of foreign entrepreneurs to do so.
Curious what hurdles founders like these might have faced? Hoping to follow in their footsteps?
Here are some early challenges facing Indian entrepreneurs in the United States.
Securing Reliable Funding
Like their American-born counterparts, Indian entrepreneurs have to jump through hoops to earn sufficient funding.
Unlike American founders, however, business owners who recently moved from India don’t have a financial paper trail in the United States. Even if they have an excellent track record back home, American banks can’t always identify the qualifications for a formal business loan.
Venture capitalism can be a more successful path, but it can take years to accumulate enough contacts to secure this type of funding. Luckily, Indian entrepreneurs have historically been able to access venture capital at impressive rates.
Marketing, Communication, and Social Media Budgets
The American business ecosystem is vast and complex, but at the core of every transaction is the same thing: relationships. Networking is a key component of business in the country, meaning immigrant entrepreneurs have to play catch-up.
In the digital world, networking can take many forms. Even without invitations to private events and conferences, relationship-building can easily take place through marketing, social media, and strategic mass communication.
It may feel risky to put money toward marketing tactics so early in the entrepreneurial process, but a strong online presence – particularly on Twitter and LinkedIn –- can cultivate the relationships you need to garner excitement for your business.
Even if you can only put out limited posts and content, it’s critical to communicate in line with American language standards. Many Indian entrepreneurs struggle to express themselves effectively, but getting over the language barrier can improve your relationship with both customers and investors.
Managing Teams With Cultural Differences
Finally, Indian entrepreneurs need to adapt quickly to the cultural norms of American business leadership. When Indian founders begin to employ American workers, they may find that their new teammates work different hours, have different approaches to authority, and expect a different relationship from their boss.
One way to overcome this hurdle is to schedule routine 1:1 check-ins with your teammates to get a sense of the leadership style they prefer. Americans are as diverse professionally as they are culturally, so expect some variations from employee to employee.
The American business landscape wouldn’t be the same without Indian entrepreneurs. With a flexible mindset and the will to learn, the next generation of Indian founders can continue to build upon – and even exceed – this impressive legacy.