The Immigrant Edge: How Immigrant Millionaires Succeed in Business
Entrepreneur's New Year’s Guide
You've got a great product or service. You know your business has massive potential, but you're struggling to get traction because of too much competition or changing economic conditions. But, what if there was a way to grow your business, win market share and, in fact, dominate in your industry -- even in uncertain times or with competition all around you?
In 2009, Gary Vaynerchuk started building what is now VaynerMedia, and at the same time I started building what is now Fit Body Boot Camp International. That was at the lowest point in one of the biggest economic crashes in U.S. history. As you'll see in a moment, that's no coincidence. It's also no coincidence that we are both immigrants to the United States.
No matter the economy, competition or lack of resources, immigrant entrepreneurs always seem to thrive. There's a reason for that. I call it the "immigrant edge." That's what has allowed Vaynerchuk and me to build our empires. We were lucky enough to gain the immigrant edge through experience, and if you're reading this my goal is give you the immigrant edge, too.
I firmly believe anyone can learn the immigrant edge. It's a mindset, a work ethic and an attitude. You don't have to have come from another country to have the immigrant edge. So, here are the three pillars that allow immigrant millionaires to succeed even when the odds are stacked against them.
1. The immigrant gets resourceful when there are no resources.
"I have a great idea for an online business, but I don't have the money or knowledge to get started. What do I do?"
This is the most common question I get these days, so let's roll with it. My immigrant mind immediately starts thinking like this: If I don't have the resources, how can I get resourceful? You can set up a blog or website for free using WordPress. You can accept payments for free using PayPal. You can promote yourself and market your product or service for free by creating "how to" videos on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.
In fact, that's exactly how I created my first online course. When you don't have the resources, you get resourceful. This is how immigrants from impoverished countries find a way when most people believe that there is no way.
This doesn't only apply when you're starting your business, either. You can get resourceful any time you "don't have the money" or "don't have the manpower" to reach the next level. Tap into your network, think outside the box and find a way. That's how I got my first mentorship in business: I offered one of my personal training clients an extra workout each week in exchange for an hour of business coaching because I couldn't afford his fees.
2. The immigrant can see the opportunity.
Like I said, it's no coincidence that Vaynerchuk and I are both immigrants from former Soviet countries. We know what it's like to live in a country that truly has no opportunities and oppresses its citizens.
The same is true for immigrants who come from countries with high corruption or massive debt. When we come from places like that, it gives us the gift of contrast.
For example, I knew that the United States economy was bad back in 2009. I also knew it was way better than the economy ever was in the Soviet Union or any other corrupt or underdeveloped country. That's what gave me the courage to stay in thriving mode instead of going into survival mode (like all my competitors did).
You can apply this same principle by taking the time to breathe next time there's an economic downturn. Contrast is everything. When everyone else is panicking, you've got to look for the opportunities for growth and advantage.
By the way, you can save a lot of money when everyone else goes into survival mode. That's what I did back in 2009. When everyone else scaled back their marketing budgets, it drove down the cost of ads throughout the market. That meant I got to buy leads and clients for pennies on the dollar.
That's the other reason why immigrants succeed in economic slumps: We know that it's easier to expand when everyone else contracts. Keep that in mind the next time someone tells you it's "bad timing" to start or grow your business.
3. The immigrant looks at adversity as an advantage.
Do you know why babies are born crying? It's because the first thing a human infant must do to survive is push the water out of its lungs and catch its first breath.
That's the best piece of proof that life is not supposed to be easy or comfortable. Same goes for health, finances, relationships and of course, business. Life is a series of challenges designed to make you stronger.
For example, when I first launched Fit Body Boot Camp, it was a licensing program. Unknowingly, we had crossed the line and were operating as a franchise without being a franchise. The great state of California told me I couldn't sell any more locations unless we converted to a franchise and threatened to fine us $2,500 per California location. At that point, most of our locations were in California so, as you can imagine, that was scary.
That turned out to be a gift, though. It forced me to decide whether I wanted to play small or level up and follow my true vision by becoming a franchise and going worldwide.
The same is true for you whenever you run into adversity in your business. There's always another way to look at it. There's always a way to reframe the adversity into an advantage. Immigrants are good at this, since we typically find ourselves dealing with a lot of adversity when we come to a new country.
Finding creative solutions and learning to manage setbacks and failures will make you a stronger leader and will help you thrive in times of adversity. Without adversity, you'll never get the most out of your own creativity.
So embrace adversity. Trust that it will make you stronger. Use it as an opportunity to get resourceful and find new ways to grow. Look carefully and spot the opportunities that everyone else is too scared to see. That's what it means to have the immigrant edge, and it's the best thing you can do to grow your own business into an empire.