New research from SMB professional resource business.com explores the pros and cons of immigration and its impact on the small business economy. Optimism ran high among immigrant business professionals, as 73 percent reported feeling positive about the future of business—but the survey revealed a split among respondents on the impact of immigration on business.
Nearly 4 in 10 (38.7 percent) small business professionals said immigration was good for business, 42 percent said it was bad for business and 19.3 percent said it had no effect on their business—underscoring the current polarized attitude toward immigration in the U.S.
While sentiment was split on the impact of immigration on small business, the challenges for both immigrant and non-immigrant business owners were strikingly similar, as respondents noted hiring and managing employees and establishing a customer base as their greatest challenges.
Key challenges for immigrant-owned businesses
Immigrant-owned businesses, however, ranked their third biggest challenge as managing finances while non-immigrant business professionals said the third most pressing challenge was navigating U.S. business laws and regulations. A majority of both immigrant and non-immigrant business owners used personal savings to start their business (62 percent of immigrant business owners; 55 percent of non-immigrant business owners) and 84 percent of both groups noted that education was either important or very important for their industry.
Forty-five percent of immigrant professionals said they hire members of their local community as employees, followed by family and friends. The research also found that 33 percent of non-immigrant respondents said they or someone they knew hired illegal immigrants to work for their businesses. Many of those noted separately that they did so because they were unsure how to verify the legality of an employee.
Immigration’s impact on local communities
When asked “how has immigration impacted your local community and business?” the answers ranged from positive to deeply negative, and many called for immigration reform. One respondent noted, “Immigrant labor in my field is very important. Immigrants get the job done. They are hard-working, reliable and strong. We need an immigration reform ASAP.”
“Our survey results underscore the continued polarizing attitude toward immigration and its impact on our economy, but also highlights the American Dream is alive and well as small business owners continue to pursue their goals with the same passion, intention and dedication no matter where they get their start,” said Doug Llewellyn, CEO of business.com, in a news release. “I am encouraged by the findings as small business—whether immigrant owned or not—continues to serve as the lifeblood of this country and will fuel our economy for years to come.”
business.com asked nearly 500 of its community members about the pros and cons of immigration and its impact on the small business economy.