How to Launch a Business in the US as an Immigrant
Immigration is a hot topic in the United States. Sadly, we tend to fixate on the “burden” that immigration puts on our financial and other infrastructures, meaning we fail to grasp the true importance of immigrant-owned businesses. In fact, immigrants are uniquely positioned -- and motivated -- to reach for the American dream by creating a new enterprise. It simply involves applying for the right documentation and then following a series of practical steps, outlined below by Leadership.
Whether you are an immigrant or not, the first basic step in starting a business in the United States is to draft a business plan. This is essentially a roadmap of where you are and where you want to be. Growthink explains the sections found in a business plan. These include executive summary, description or company analysis, market research and strategies, management and personnel, and financials.
● Executive summary. An “elevator pitch” that should be no more than a couple of pages long. This should include your company’s background as well as an overview of its products, services, and highlights.
● Business description. This is a more in-depth explanation of your endeavor. It should outline any special processes as well as intellectual property and, if applicable, your legal structure.
● Market research. Once you’ve completed a marketing analysis, this is where you will outline your strategies. You should notate forecasts, milestones, as well as public relations. Data analysis as well as customer testimonials are included in this section.
● Management and personnel. Each key executive and senior-level manager should provide a biography for this section. This will illustrate their expertise in the industry and help reduce the perception of risk by showing their experience.
● Financials. Numbers, including your balance sheet and cash flow, make up the financial documents section of your business plan. This should look forward to the future and not necessarily create a narrative of your current accounting status.
Once your business plan is in place, it’s time to get to work implementing an organized structure. One place to enact strategies, policies, and procedures is through your accounting software. A system that keeps you organized will help you keep your reporting on track while maintaining accurate tax records.
Funding is the next consideration, and you will need to know where, exactly, your capital will come from. Your options are to utilize your own savings or to take out a loan. Whether you choose a personal or business loan, you must first verify your status. LawFirms notes that this will either be a US citizen, permanent/conditional resident, non-immigrant, or undocumented. You will typically need to be a naturalized citizen or permanent resident to qualify for any type of financial assistance or loan product.
Once you have your funding figured out, decide where to locate your business. Fortunately, many new companies are opening up remotely. This means that you can work from home, and, most likely, your employees will as well. Now is also a good time to establish your business structure, which may be an LLC, sole proprietorship, or partnership. There are also many different types of corporations, and each business structure plays a part in the amount of taxes your business owes and the personal liability levied against you.
You will also have to choose a business name. While your company can be named anything you want, make sure to avoid a few common mistakes. These include choosing a name that’s too general or that could potentially restrict the future growth of your business. As an immigrant, if you want to use your family name for your business, get a few opinions beforehand. A business name should not be difficult to understand in both written and verbal forms. Finally, do not forget to confirm domain availability. Check a domain registrar to see that you can get some logical iteration of your business name as a website.
Something else you’ll need to do is set up a home office where you can work. Make it as comfortable as possible, with natural light and ergonomic furniture, to help you concentrate. If your home requires some renovations to provide you with the space you need – like adding windows or expanding a room – the good news is that many such renovations have the added bonus of improving your home’s appraisal value, should you decide to sell.
A few other ideas to keep in the back of your head as you create your business are to:
● Save a bundle on advertising by using a free online logo maker to create an eye-catching design. It’s a simple and effective way to get started building your brand.
● Research business insurance. Even if you form an LLC, insurance can protect you against non-legal financial losses, such as natural disasters.
● Apply for state and federal tax ID numbers.
● Maintain a separate bank account for your business and personal expenses. Remember, if you are an LLC or other separate entity, do not commingle your funds or your personal cash may be considered business property.
● Apply for any required licenses or permits. If you’re opening a Mexican restaurant and plan to sell alcohol, for example, you’ll need an alcohol license. Contact your local and state authorities for more information based on your industry.
● Maintain excellent accounting records. Your payroll reporting system/software will help you keep up with your records, but you also need to maintain logs detailing your expenses and incoming funds.
● If you plan to send some of your profits home to your family, don’t rely on your business bank account or personal bank account to do this. It’s costly and complicated. Instead, use a wire service to safely send money home to family.
Opening a business in the United States as an immigrant presents a few hurdles that Americans don’t have. You’ll first have to prove your immigration status and figure out how to qualify for a loan. Beyond that, the process is pretty straightforward. Regardless of the challenges, you might endure, becoming an entrepreneur is the American dream and one that can help you live your best life whether you choose to stay here for the long term or return back to your home country after you’ve made your mark.
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