How Being a Lithuanian Immigrant in the U.K. Grew My Drive for Success in Business
For an immigrant, running a business is the road to financial freedom and a life that usually leads to comfortable living, one that was not present beforehand. When I was 9 years old, alongside my family, I moved to England for good. In the first few weeks after we arrived, I realized that I did not hold much of an understanding of the culture and language that Britain has. Yet, a decade later I have established a successful company and will be starting a second company in the months to come with a great understanding and love of the culture around me.
So, how did being an immigrant grew my drive for business and success? First, of all, there is no simple answer to this. Psychology professor Adrian Furnham wrote in the Wall Street Journal that immigrants are outsiders, thus face "frustration, loneliness and a steep learning curve" and that's what makes them "great entrepreneurs."
I agree with this statement; in many ways while from the start I was an outsider and at times felt lonely in a new country, overall that diversity and outsider mindset made me driven to become successful and taken in by my new surroundings. It created an optimistic mindset that made me believe if I worked hard and was patient, the only way forward was up.
In many ways, the outsider mindset focuses on searching for opportunities that others haven't taken with a life that has provided them with a substantial amount of comfort. As self-made millionaire Gary Vaynerchuk, CEO of Vayner Media and internet personality, said, immigrants that move to a new country for a better life move there for a reason and thus are "looking for the opportunity," rather than waiting for it to appear and in return gain the advantage of that trait.
This statement hits close to home. Personally, I wasn't involved in the decision to move countries, but the lifestyle I experienced made me realize how much more I had in England than Lithuania. I could see different cultures and be inspired by the diversity and potential success it could bring in the long term to my family and me. This has made me develop a mindset of looking for doors that others don't perceive as open.
However, I'm not alone on this journey. According to GEM (Global Entrepreneurship Monitor), in the United Kingdom immigrants are three times more likely to be entrepreneurial than British-born people. This is not just the case in the United Kingdom but in places like the United States as well. Robert Herjavec, Croatian-born entrepreneur and CEO of global cybersecurity firm Herjavec Group, said to immigrant entrepreneurs, "People don't care about your color, religion or sex. They care about the value you add." This statement by Herjavec could not be truer in the world of business, as in most cases when consumers perceive a business provides value, they tend not to question the background of the provider or the creator.
This concept is even seen in Brexit "leave" voters. Skilled manual workers, semi and unskilled manual workers, state pensioners and the unemployed typically voted for Brexit, however these are the groups most likely to use low-cost airline EasyJet, which was founded by Greek-born immigrant Stelios Haji-Ioannou.
Nonetheless, it must be mentioned that immigrants like me, Herjavec and Vaynerchuk all came to their respected countries at an early age, which meant we grew up and learned about life in our new surroundings through school and social life, which was likely easier than for those in their mid-30s who arrive with no language and lack of support. The struggle that our families came from motivated and are motivating us to work harder and smarter within our surroundings so we can turn our lives around. Thus, we do our best to find opportunities and work those extra hours on weekends, which money-wise do not pay us in the short term.
The challenges that have come my way by being an immigrant have created a culture where being an outsider has cultivated a drive for business success, which is present today and will be present in the future to come.