Hispanic Entrepreneur’s Language Proficiency Is Essential to Success

Latina Businesswoman sitting in outdoors gesturing with her hands and communicating Latin Biz Today

Effective communication and language proficiency are the keys to Hispanic business owners achievement

Twenty-seven years ago, I made the move to the United States, though I must admit, I was initially hesitant. My husband had to persuade me with the promise that it would be a temporary move, lasting only eighteen months. Upon arriving at O’Hare – Chicago’s airport, I felt intimidated for many reasons, but most of all, because of my inadequate fluency in English. Fortunately, the company that had hired my husband provided an exceptional level of support not only to us but also to sixty other people from all over the globe. Soon after my arrival, I began to work on improving my language skills, which gave me a sense of control and ownership of the situation. My private teacher, Marthy, was an exceptional mentor who helped me flourish with her patience, empathy, and kindness. As my language skills improved, so did my overall experience in Chicago. I started getting involved in various city programs, including the library, where I met more people who shared my feelings when it came to the language barrier.

Although some people are willing to overlook language deficiencies in social settings, the work environment is an entirely different story. The impact of language skills on human relations is profound. I cannot help but think of Sofia Vergara’s accent and how I, personally, feel uncomfortable with it. I wonder if people feel the same way about me. However, language efficiency and accent do not only affect conversations. I am reminded of the Modern Family episode where Sofia Vergara’s character asks her husband, “Do you know how smart I sound in Spanish?” On many occasions, I have felt like people were looking at me like I was cognitively deficient. Overcoming this challenge has been one of the most frustrating things I have had to do to maintain my self-confidence and trust in myself.

Despite my language deficiencies, I enrolled in a distance learning program to complete my bachelor’s degree. I graduated, and my family and I traveled from Florida to Seattle for the ceremony. Two years later, I got accepted into the Executive Master of Business Administration program at the University of Notre Dame, Indiana, and years later, I graduated with a Doctoral Degree.

Over the years, my language skills have improved, though I still occasionally stumble over my words. However, I don’t let it bother me anymore, and I know that I am not lacking anything. As a professional Latina and entrepreneur in the United States, I have had to navigate various challenges. Nonetheless, two traits that have helped me immensely are resilience and persistence. I believe that my story is unique to me, and that other Hispanic entrepreneurs may have had different experiences. However, I share it because I find it inspiring when I can learn from others’ journeys. As an expert in handling emotions and reflecting on my past, I see all the intense feelings I experienced not only as a Hispanic woman but as an entrepreneur. I now understand that my mindset determines how I navigate the business world in this country. I have found that as I become more aware of how I feel and experience my journey, it determines how I handle myself professionally.

Language is a crucial element in the human experience, regardless of ethnic background. It is through language that we communicate the way we see others, situations, and life in general. Language conveys our culture, which includes values, meaning, and connection. It carries tremendous significance in creating connections with other people, conveying our vision, and gaining support. When I refer to language, I am not referring specifically to technicalities but it’s much broader importance, which is how do I let the other person know what I want to create, and how can we work together by establishing coherence in our business relationship. I know that when we feel close to others, we trust more, and we lower our emotional barriers, which help us create something beautiful regardless of race. However, it is something I have had to work on in a very conscious and intentional way.

I believe that for our business to thrive in a culture that is different from our own, we must actively work to overcome cultural barriers. If we do not, progress will be slow. However, if Hispanic business owners make a conscious effort to form habits that bridge the cultural divide, we can achieve success more quickly.

Related content:

Bilingual Latinos a Distinct Business Advantage

Salma, Sofia, Danny, Benicio…That exquisite Hispanic Accent, Chico!

Turn Your Latino Culture Into a Selling Advantage…Not Just Because You Speak Spanish

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