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11 Tips on How to Handle Challenges and Overcome Adversity as an Asian Entrepreneur
by Brett Farmiloe
January 26, 2023
AAPI craftsman laughing in their shop

What is one tip for handling challenges and overcoming adversity as an Asian entrepreneur?

To help you handle challenges and overcome adversity as an Asian entrepreneur, we asked founders and CEOs this question for their best pieces of advice. From evaluating yourself to learning how to ask for help, there are several recommendations that may help you in the future.

Evaluate Yourself

One tip for handling challenges and overcoming adversity as an Asian entrepreneur is to evaluate your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. A key component of the evaluation process is determining which characteristics are most important to you in order that they can be applied when assessing a situation or opportunity.

Adil Advani, MyPrep

Practice Being Detached

Make a habit of distancing yourself from any consequence, in my opinion. Detachment implies that you are not emotionally invested in any one outcome in life. I recall being quite frightened when I had to give a public speech in the past. I was afraid of public speaking because I was too preoccupied with what the audience was thinking of me. The fact is that some people will not like what you say, while others may like what you have to say; consequently, your duty is to accept people as they are and not get worked up emotionally or intellectually over someone not liking you. Many of your concerns and insecurities will vanish once you begin practicing detachment.

Sumit Bansal, TrumpExcel

Create a Good Network You Can Reference

Many  AAPI Entrepreneurs don't have a resource to reference when what seems  like small, unexpected challenges happen. These "small" problems end up becoming significant, large roadblocks as we move forward. Whether that's leasing challenges or financing issues, these are issues you just can't Google an answer for.
This is why it's crucial to have a solid group of mentors and fellow entrepreneurs you can rely on when these challenges inevitably come up.

Seek out AAPI or minority-focused mentorship programs and resources, like micro-mentoring circles or online communities. Even better, consider vetting people yourself and adding them to a community system like Discord for instant back-and-forth. It will be completely worth it.

Howard Lee, LFDM Marketing Advisors

Find a Mentor and Get Past The Plateau

Career advancement is the greatest challenge I've faced, in that it is easy to reach a plateau if one is not proactive in looking for opportunities. In my experience, established pathways to success as an entrepreneur do exist, but the signposts pointing the way are not tailored to different cultural backgrounds. For those in minority populations, it's easy to miss opportunities for advancement as they are unlikely to be pointed out to us.
Be proactive in creating and executing your career plan. Find a mentor, and be willing to be a mentor to others so that everyone has an equal chance of finding their path to success.

Soumya Mohan, Poised

Create a Journey That Embraces Your Culture

I am a firm believer in diversity, equity, and inclusion and that we should embrace being different and look at it as a positive. I think now more than ever it’s essential  to be a part of the discussion and share your voice. Due to this new shift, we have the opportunity to be an authentic  voice for change and include our own ideas in the mix where we once as Asian entrepreneurs, may have sat in silence or didn’t feel the need to be heard because of our own insecurities. This has now become our superpower to embrace being different, and work through challenges, but still champion working together to create opportunities for positive outcomes.

Marissa Hawkins, Massage Envy

Build a Diverse And Inclusive Network

“Your Network is Your Net Worth.” Developing an expansive and inclusive network of people of different backgrounds helps us better handle challenges and overcome adversity. A diverse network provides greater access to business opportunities, subject matter expertise, innovative ideas, different perspectives, supportive allies, and other resources… all of which can position you and your business for success. We should each: cast a wide net by intentionally meeting people who are different from us; focus on building relationship capital within an expansive network, and  be mindful of how inclusively we behave.

Betty Ng, Inspiring Diversity

Unlearn Your Definition of Failure

It's okay to ask for help, in Asian culture it's sometimes seen as weak to as for help and that you must be able to do it all by yourself. That's not the case at all with entrepreneurship, your strength lies within your community. 

Unlearn your definition of failure, no one is good at the beginning. It's okay to fail but fail quickly, learn from it and try it again. Learn that it's okay to ask for money and raise from family and friends. It's hard for Asian entrepreneurs to do this but the most prominent  supporters in your early stages are your friends and family.

Bryan Pham, Asian Hustle Network

Trust Yourself

Advice for Asian Entrepreneurs: Trust Yourself

Kennethdale Comidoy, The Profile

Operate in Humility and Never Assum

As an Asian American Entrepreneur, overcoming adversity is ideally an everyday process as we have to keep an open mind to change, cultural awareness, and differences to  combat the stereotypes deemed upon us such as passiveness, unfriendliness, racism, or even the fact that we only work within our culture's communities.

In both my business and personal space, I've prioritized sharing,  my story, and genuinely want to learn theirs' to establish common grounds to build trust, as within trust lies an effective relationship, yielding great partnerships and clientele. As a serial entrepreneur, I've learned operating in humility creates the fluidity I believe is needed in the workspace. It allows empowerment on all sides and an environment that showcases the "win/win" mentality. 

In summation, my advice as an Asian Entrepreneur is to not operate by assumptions, don't assume and don't assume they understand... continue to be patient, open-minded, and open-hearted.

Linda Ngo, Ngo Limit

Build a Network of Mentors And Find other Sources of Funding

As an entrepreneur, your business can be an idea, service, or product. You may have deep knowledge of the industry of your business, but it is essential  to identify the gaps that you may have to run a successful business. Build a network of mentors who can provide you with knowledge and expertise ranging from HR, Finance, Marketing, Legal, Sales, and so on. It is okay to ask for help which is often very hard for Asians. To  grow and scale up your business, you will need additional capital. Prepare your pitch deck and look for traditional and non-traditional sources of funding.

Rupal Thanawala, Trident Systems

Learn to Ask For Help

Most Asians are raised on cultural values around self-reliance and agency. It's often looked down upon to depend on others or need to ask others for help. As an entrepreneur, you need to follow the opposite advice and learn to ask for help every single day. Don't be afraid to ask fellow entrepreneurs, people in your network, or cold outreach to people you admire to ask for help. Learning to ask for help is critical to handling challenges and overcoming adversity as an Asian entrepreneur.

Kevin Lee, immi

About the author
Brett Farmiloe
Brett Farmiloe is the Founder & CEO of Terkel, a Q&A site that converts insights from small business owners into high-quality articles for brands. Brett Farmiloe Founder & CEO,
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Washington, DC 20002

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