They say America is the land of opportunity where money pours from one person and business to another like water flows down a river or through a beautiful and complex water garden. There are opportunities to start a business and make a little of that money for yourself absolutely everywhere. It’s the tradition of the lemonade stand, the street vendor, and the taxi driver. No matter where you go, if you’re willing to hustle and take opportunities where you find them, you can start to put together more than a little pocket change. For someone who comes from a place where opportunities are a little less bountiful, it seems like an almost magical destination.
The strange part is that here in our land of milk, honey, and startup businesses, most modern Americans have become completely blind to the fact that they’re surrounded by opportunities. It’s all too easy to over-focus on the single career track and get stuck in a rut. These days, we start planning out our lives as early as middle school. We plan our career, the college we’ll go to, the town we’ll live in, and even go so far as to count our children “before they hatch” in a surprisingly boring scramble toward the “American Dream” of the white picket fence and the perfect little modern two-income family. But is this really the American Dream we should be dreaming of?
How Americans See America
When you (assuming you were born and raised here in the states) look around your environment, what do you see? Your home, your car, your family, pet, job, church, local supermarket, the hardware store down the street, and so on. It’s all familiar. Most people could draw a rough map of their neighborhood from memory including the stores they always visit but this is also the full extent of their world. The opportunities we see consist of the next promotion or a good deal on beef this week at the supermarket. While this is a perfectly stable worldview, it’s also a very small perspective with an equally small chance of greater success than the steady measured pace of minor raises and promotions.
But we’re still Americans and, more importantly, we’re still human. Deep down, we all want something more. Bigger, better, and greater success is something that would make us all happier and the fact of the matter is that the opportunities to reach outside your little predictable bubble are still there. You just have to know how to look at them like someone who didn’t grow up inside the bubble.
How Immigrants See America
What most Americans don’t realize is the reason why they call this place the land of opportunity. In many other countries across the planet, opportunities for upward or even lateral mobility are far fewer, sometimes even non-existent. If your family starts poor, you’re likely to stay poor. In some parts of the world, people may even be expected to do the same jobs their parents did with no margin for variation. Even people who come from free but not particularly wealthy countries tend to see coming to America as almost like a theme-part of opportunities. Everywhere you look, there’s another chance to start a new career, start a business, buy property, and build a whole new life for yourself and your family.
When an immigrant looks at America, they see the land of opportunities in the way that few modern Americans still can. A busy street corner is an opportunity to open a profitable food cart, a run-down storefront is an opportunity to open your own business, and a vacant home is an opportunity to become a wealthy and successful landlord. Where locals see empty buildings and sigh about urban decay, an immigrant sees an opportunity to fix the place up and make it their own. Where locals see a single path down a single career, an immigrant can see dozens of diverging paths and possibilities because they know what it’s like to truly have limited options.
This is what is known as the Immigrant Mindset, the ability to see opportunities like someone who has just moved in and is seeing the entire country with fresh eyes.
Attaining the Immigrant Mindset
One of the hardest things for almost anyone to do is to shake off a worldview that was built in childhood. Most of us see the world with blinders on because that’s how our parents saw the world. They worked on their single careers, raised kids, and planned on retirement without ever thinking about the possibility of becoming business leaders, entrepreneurs, and investment property owners, but that doesn’t mean you have to do the same thing. The next time you go out driving or even just on the commute between home and work, take a look around and try to see the world as if you weren’t completely familiar and bored with all of it.
Seeing Locations as Opportunities
It’s easiest to get your imagination flowing by thinking like someone looking to start a business. Is that a vacant storefront right on a busy sidewalk? Consider how much foot traffic you could get if you opened an ice cream parlor, shoe store, or a cozy little cafe in that location. Even if all you had was a hot foot cart from which to sell morning coffee and cinnamon rolls to people on their way to work, you might be surprised just how much money you can make with a small amount of opportunistic enterprising. After all, we’re here in the land of opportunities where, if you’re willing, you can even start at dog walking and work your way up.
Using Your American Budget for Immigrant-Style Opportunities
The next step is to think about your budget like someone looking to start a new life from scratch. Look at what you have spare to spend in terms of the opportunities you can open up with even a fraction of your savings or a small slice of your monthly income. For many Americans, $10,000 is a few month’s rent or great vacation, but to an immigrant looking for opportunities, this could easily be a downpayment on your very first business or investment property.
If you have the white-picket reality but are still dreaming of something better, chances are what you’re really looking for is the wonder, excitement, and business opportunities of looking at the world with an Immigrant Mentality. If you really want to make it big, don’t be afraid to start small with the resources you have and pull yourself up with hard work, determination, and a savvy eye for great opportunities here where we’re best known for making an empire out of nothing. If you’re ready to start building a new life like someone who just got to the states, contact us today!