5 Reasons Why All Entrepreneurs Should be Bilingual

by / ⠀Entrepreneurship / April 18, 2014

bilingual entrepreneurs

To become a successful entrepreneur, you need lots of initiative and you must be ready to take risks. No entrepreneur can expect to achieve his or her goals without risks and initiative, even in a country like the U.S. where entrepreneurs and small businesses are become more and more common every year.

In a report published by Forbes Magazine, six years worth of data based on small businesses in the U.S. (small business in the U.S. are defined by the SBA as companies which employ fewer than 500 employees)

reveals that there are now almost 28 million small businesses in the U.S. Over 22 million of these small businesses are self employed and operate with no additional payroll or employees, commonly referred to in the business world as “nonemployers”. Over 50% of the working population work for/own small businesses and small businesses have generated over 65% of net new jobs in the U.S. since 1995. What’s even more interesting is that roughly 52% of all small businesses are home-based and about 75% of all U.S. businesses have “non-employer” businesses status.

Considering the importance of small businesses and entrepreneurs in the U.S., it’s about time more attention was paid to the benefits of language learning. The world is becoming smaller by the day. International communications are easier than ever before. All entrepreneurs in the U.S. must learn at least one other language to remain successful in any industry throughout the years to come.

1. Globalization places heavy emphasis on language learning

Incredible advancements in technology have made international business very, very easy. The majority of entrepreneurs don’t even need an office from which to work these days. A laptop, a quiet corner in the house and a PayPal account are the bare minimum basics that anyone needs to launch a new business idea in any country in the world without having to physically be in that country.

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However, if you plan to outsource company needs to other countries, if you plan to make deals with business partners in other countries and if you intend to market your product to consumers in other countries, learning a foreign language will be incredibly useful. In fact, sometimes entrepreneurs find that they want to sell their products within their native countries but that even then they need to be able to communicate with consumers who speak foreign languages.

Globalization has made entrepreneurship a viable and attractive option for many people with small business ideas, but it has also placed a heavy demand on our bilingual skills.

2. Entrepreneurs need social skills, not just business know-how

Being a successful entrepreneur is not just about being experienced in business and knowing a lot about your business’ industry. Successful entrepreneurs must also possess incredibly effective social skills. Being bilingual opens the doors to prospective clients, deals and opportunities because it enables us to be more sociable with the business partners/consumers/employers we have in mind to work with.

The benefits of being fluent, or even just being able to converse, in more than one language are numerous. Being bilingual doesn’t just help entrepreneurs to get ahead via professional opportunities. Being bilingual helps entrepreneurs achieve success by understanding foreign cultures, foreign markets and foreign workforces on a much more personal and social level.

3. Bilingual entrepreneurs can be more creative

Entrepreneurs with bilingual skills can also gain the upper-hand in business because they are able to be doubly-creative with their ideas. As globalization continues to strengthen, more people travel, more people live and work abroad or work for foreign companies from home. Cultures mix, more children are born in bilingual households and the need to develop bilingual products and to provide bilingual services steadily increases.

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The world needs bilingual products, bilingual services, bilingual materials and bilingual advice. Entrepreneurs with language skills can better tap in to the needs of this growing, globalized community that entrepreneurs who can only speak their native language. Take a look at the plans of this bilingual entrepreneur who is hoping to develop a sophisticated language learning iPad app for young children born into bilingual households.

As another prime example of bilingual creativity, pupils from Cynffig Comprehensive School in Kenfig Hill, near Bridgend in Wales, have developed a bilingual board game for Welsh Baccalaureate learners studying economic and technological change. The board game isn’t considered to be innovative just because it’s a board game. The innovation comes from the bilingual nature of the game and how its bilingual status appeals to the needs of students studying at present in today’s multilingual world.

4. Eligibility for bilingual grant schemes

There are a number of grant schemes only available to bilingual entrepreneurs. These schemes help small businesses finance their ideas in the first few years and it appears that lots of additional help is being awarded to bilingual entrepreneurs. The Multicultural Entrepreneurial Institute is one of those organizations in the U.S. willing to offer US$3000 grants to the most innovative bilingual entrepreneurs out there.

Almost all small business ideas need financial backing, particularly in the early stages. Becoming a bilingual entrepreneur can only broaden the possibilities you have at your fingertips.

5. Foreign entrepreneurs making a success of things in the U.S.

Geoffrey Wescott and David Griffith published an interesting report on the effect of language acquisition on income among Latino entrepreneurs in the U.S. The report highlights the relationship between language skills and annual income within the Latino community and reveals how Latin American entrepreneurs based in the U.S. who are “bilingual in Spanish and English with strong English skills, earn more on average as entrepreneurs than as employees.”

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The report also confirms that Latin Americans who emigrate to the U.S. have “shown a propensity to become self-employed and hold skills that often lead to success in the entrepreneurial market,” but that their “income as entrepreneurs is lower than other ethnic groups,” when they’re not bilingual in English.

Whatever way you look at it, bilingual entrepreneurs in the U.S., both natives and foreign immigrants, need to take a strong interest in language learning and make being bilingual high on their list of priorities. Being bilingual is vital to all entrepreneurs who want to remain in a competitive position within their respective industries.

Tracey Chandler represents Language Trainers, which provides individually-tailored language training on a one-on-one or small group basis worldwide.

Image Credit: Shutterstock.com

About The Author

Matt Wilson

Matt Wilson is Co-Founder of Under30Experiences, a travel company for young people ages 21-35. He is the original Co-founder of Under30CEO (Acquired 2016). Matt is the Host of the Live Different Podcast and has 50+ Five Star iTunes Ratings on Health, Fitness, Business and Travel. He brings a unique, uncensored approach to his interviews and writing. His work is published on Under30CEO.com, Forbes, Inc. Magazine, Huffington Post, Reuters, and many others. Matt hosts yoga and fitness retreats in his free time and buys all his food from an organic farm in the jungle of Costa Rica where he lives. He is a shareholder of the Green Bay Packers.


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