Posted on Dec 29th 2017
Have you ever wanted to own a business, but didn’t know where to start? Has your upbringing and family culture given you the idea to create a concept that you believe will thrive in America’s economy? For immigrant entrepreneurs, starting a business can be incredibly difficult – from not knowing the language to adapting to American culture, the ladder to success can be a difficult climb. However, in more ways than one, your cultural upbringing and different skill sets as an immigrant might have already given you an edge over the competition.
Entrepreneurship is a journey that requires a lot of time, effort, and hard work. The rewards and accomplishments that come along with creating a successful business far outweigh the obstacles. My journey to entrepreneurship wasn’t easy, but I treated every obstacle as an opportunity. From leaving behind my family and business in France to losing my home during the recession, and even sacrificing my family’s savings account to spearhead efforts to achieve the American dream, my daughter and I were determined to reunite our family and give us a better life.
To help get started, here are some essential steps to starting a business, and some factors you need to take into consideration to find success.
Rosalie Guillem shares the story behind Le Macaron and their vision for the future.
Staying true to your roots
My husband and I moved to Florida 15 years ago. I really missed my daughter and my granddaughter and was hoping one day they’d come join us—and that happened during the Great Recession. She called me to say, “Mom, we’re ready!” We needed to find an idea for her to make a living and get a visa. We were thinking of opening something the French manage very well. They have expertise in food, in perfume, in fashion, in wine.
I thought: What do we have in France that I can’t find here in Florida? We considered a restaurant, but it was too complicated. I really like sweets, and every time my husband was traveling in France, I’d send him to bring back some macaron from Paris. I called my daughter and said, “What do you think of opening a macaron store, a little French café—very simple, elegant, and modern?” That was how everything started.
The French connection
In 2009, when everybody was closing, we opened our first store. It was not easy, but we thought that even during the Great Recession everybody would be able to treat themselves with a little delicacy: a macaron, a chocolate, a cup of coffee, a nice place, maybe a two-minute vacation. And that was the idea. When our first customer came in the store, they asked, “Le Macaron French pastry?” They were looking for another kind of pastry (the macaroon).
We are based in Sarasota; it is a wonderful city. We are close to the beach, so we also have a lot of tourists. Some Americans who traveled the world, especially Paris, knew what a macaron was. They were so excited. Others would come inside and say, “We were looking at this beautiful display with all these colors. What are they? Are they hamburgers?”
People started driving hours just to buy a box of macarons. So we started to understand that the macaron would be the next treat of the American customer.
From work visas to language barriers, immigrant entrepreneurs face challenges of all aspects. It’s important to stay motivated and find other avenues to achieving your goals and becoming successful. Always remember that with every obstacle there is a reward on the other end.
Starting a business as an immigrant entrepreneur can be a daunting challenge, but by remaining authentic and providing people with a unique experience, you can create a successful business that will flourish and thrive throughout the country. By creating an opportunity for yourself, you’re opening the door for others to have opportunities as well.