Being an expat can be an exciting and enriching experience. You not only get the chance to visit a new country, but to live and experience its people, culture and language on a deeper level than you ever would as a tourist. Exciting as this is, as a expat and trailing spouse myself, I that at times it can also be frustrating, lonely and isolating! One of the biggest frustrations amongst expat spouses can be finding work.
In a land where you don't know the culture, speak the language or have a network, finding employment is no easy task. Being away from friends and family, and having no clear direction or purpose, can lead you to lose confidence in yourself and your abilities – which certainly does not help the job-seeking process! Since moving to Switzerland 16 years ago, I’ve discovered that I’m not alone in feeling the excitement, but also the frustrations of expat life.
That’s why I wanted to share what’s worked well for me, in case it could be the perfect career solution for you as well – starting an expat business and becoming my own boss.
Could starting your own business be your perfect expat career? This article explores the idea and shares actionable advice to help you start your expat business.
My experience of running a business as an expat
When I started out on my own 11 years ago, I barely spoke the local language, I had a small network and I had no experience of running my own business. I also had a bonnie 5-month old baby on my hands! Starting my own expat business was not the easy choice. But today, I’m proud of the confident businesswoman I’ve grown into, as well as the many other women I’ve helped to launch their own successful business too.
I’ve seen first hand that even if you have little or no business experience, it is very possible to start your own business – if you have courage to commit to your dream and take the first step. Here’s why I feel owning your own business can be a great work option for expats and trailing spouses…
Why Trailing Spouses Should Consider Starting an Expat Business
You own your own time
With no support network around you and lots of unexpected demands on your time, working the traditional 9-5 job can be difficult and stressful. With your own business, however, your time is 100% your own. If your kids are sick, you can work around this.
If you have a random appointment in the middle of the day, you can work around that. If you want to take a travel break – even a long one – you can work around that too!
There are many benefits to starting a business as an expat - income, flexibility, personal growth and the opportunity to attract a network of like-minded people are just a few.
You can fulfill more of your potential
When you work for someone else, you are always working to what they believe your potential is. As an entrepreneur, you’ll soon find you have way more potential than you ever realised. You’ll often find yourself pushed out of your comfort zone and learning and doing things you never thought you could.
It’s thrilling, exciting, a little bit scary, but overall it will help you grow into a person you can be proud of. If you’re a parent, there is also the added benefit that in setting up your own expat business, you’ll be inspiring your kids to pursue their dreams too.
You can work from home…or anywhere
The flexibility of modern business means that you can work from anywhere you like. That could be from your kitchen table, a co-working space, coffee shop, beach, bar…anywhere you choose. Just pack up your mobile and your laptop and off you go.
You can align your approach to your own values
As an employee, you have to align with the company’s values.
As your own boss, you decide who you want to work with, when and how. You can also align your approach to your own values – and that can be motivating and rewarding.
You attract like-minded, inspirational people
In my experience the entrepreneurial community in Switzerland is vibrant, supportive and full of good energy. Personally, I love learning about and following other people’s journeys to success. It gives me so many insights, lessons and inspiration that I can apply to my own business and share with my clients.
I’ve also noticed over the years, how the more I support others, the more that support and inspiration comes back to me – right when I need it most!
An expat-business can travel with you
Many people in the expat community move from country to country regularly. When you own your own expat business however, this can be a real advantage. Not only can you take your business with you, so you never have to worry about finding work again, but you can also build a global business!
Depending on the type of business you start, you can build a local client base, and then continue to serve those clients as you travel the world. The more countries you visit, the more clients you can pick up!
Could Starting an Expat Business Work for You?
I’m aware that most people starting out in business are doing so for the first time and can benefit from some guidance.Therefore, I’ve created a free guide to help you: How to Succeed in Your First Business.
The lessons, exercises, advice and inspiration in this guide help you can start your business faster and with more clarity and confidence. All you really need to get your expat business started, is the courage to take the first step - this free guide makes this easy for you. What business will you start as an expat?
Or what expat business have you already started? Let me know in the comments!
Get your FREE Guide to Starting a Successful business and take your first steps with clarity and confidence.
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