Lets face it – life as an expat business person is a challenge, is like having an arm tied behind your back. It’s all foreign .. And not just the language! For instance, learning how the tax system works, setting up your business so it’s ‘legal’, getting advice which is correct and up to date, finding a product or service which isn’t already here and then Customers or Clients who want to buy all add to the challenge! Every year Costa Women run a Conference to help #MakeitHappen and explore some of the challenges faced by female entrepreneurs in Spain; how to be overcomers and make our dream a success.
The conference allows me to meet Women who have new ideas, new ways to look at old problems and share from their own experiences and cultures; resetting the positive gene. This year we were joined by over 100 Women from 12 different countries (including our Spanish hosts), uniting at an event at Andalucia Lab in Marbella with Women who now call Spain their home.
The Challenge of being a Woman in Business
Wherever you live and whatever business you run, the question invariably gets asked “Can you work full time, have children, enjoy (insert hobby, pastime, travel etc.) and stay sane?” Coming from and have a career in the “have it all society”, I was interested to hear thoughts from author Jane Kenyon and founder of Well Heeled Divas and Girls Out Loud
“Controlling Everything Doesn’t Give You Power” said Jane “Whilst Superwoman is alive and well and strutting around in her stilettos, she is feeding your insecurities, damaging your self-belief, sabotaging your businesses, your careers and your relationships and she is NOT a great life model to pass on to our daughters.
She empowers us to stay small; shop for things we don’t need; obsess over eternal youth and multi-task within an inch of emotional exhaustion on a daily basis.
Jane promoted “a better place to live. One where your authentic soul is nurtured, your vulnerability is nourished and you are allowed to be you. Learn to let go, say no, accept help, stop controlling everything, recognise the power of vulnerability and stop beating ourselves up for failing to hit perfect 24/7.”
Very topical and this theme ran through the day. Jodie Rogers, Empowerment Expert, implored “Don’t wait for perfection”.
Top Expat Tip: There may be more pulls on your time as the routine in expat land can be very different. Make sure you schedule time for you and to enjoy life in your new country. Take back control of your life.
In many eyes we do have it all, we have moved to a foreign land, live in the sun and can experience different cultures and experiences. However that word “live” is the key here – the Women who attended the day have to earn money to live here to continue to enjoy the lifestyle.
Living with the “Should”
“Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should”, said Jodie Rogers, empowerment coach.
“’Should’ is a word that reflects other people’s needs rather than your own”, said Ali Hollands. Ali, Senior Clinical Hypnotherapist, brought tools and ideas for getting rid of the “energy vampires”; anyone or anything which diminishes your energy – the power that fuels so you can achieve and enjoy everything your heart desires.
Top Expat Tip: Find a “goal-friend” (thanks for the name Lily) as an accountability partner and work through your business concerns. Discuss the things you feel you “should” be doing – what difference will the “should” make to what you are trying to achieve?
Working closer to home
It’s not usual to find people working in Spain with Friends and Family. Many of the Costa Women members do just that. However, you need to plan for every eventuality even though at the beginning you may be in the throws of “love” with your business partner. Warning that “change is inevitable” was Annabel Kaye – HR visionary and employment law specialist, sharing how to work with friends and family (because she does, including her ex-husband who is still her business partner)
Top Expat Tip: Your move to Spain may have thrown you into work with friends and family. Its important to plan ahead and make your goals for who does what, who gets what and divide responsibilities. Ask the awkward questions at the beginning, rather than at the end when it maybe too late to change the outcomes.
Social Media is part of our daily lives and in my experience used more by foreigners living overseas then people in their home countries. In a business setting, it provides the opportunity to know, like and trust someone who you may not have any historic connections with.
Starting with our personal brand was Lily Mensah Yeboah. For me this is so important, “people buy people” – they always have and always well. How is your personal brand image?
Top Expat Tip – make sure your posts on social media are authentic, show brevity and you are consistent.
This is never more so for expats. We arrive in a foreign land and can create a whole new persona, but that’s such hard work.
What are you trying to say?
Making sure your message is clear was the topic of wordsmith – Jackie Barrie. Jackie brought 30 years of professional writing experience
Top Expat Tip – It’s not about YOU its about THEM, said Jackie. Visitors to your website are keen to know how you can meet their needs and “what’s in it for me”? Remember that culture may play a big part here so work out the main language and country of your Client base and tailor make your website to their wants and needs.
Who are your “Them”?
From Barcelona via Australia, Caroline Balinska helps female entrepreneurs create businesses they love while living the lifestyle they love. Challenging us to discover your ideal customer; what their needs are and provide a solution to their want. Find your niche – niche is nice says Caroline and so much easier to work with. Split testing for your marketing efforts is the way to go, rinse and repeat.
Top Expat Tip – Find out who your target audience are. If you think “everyone” is your target market you are setting yourself up to fail.
The Clock is ticking
And in our time management. The biggest cry for using social media is lack of time. Tackled by #askcybergran Fiona Catchpowle, ideas for “how we can get social media fit in 20 minutes a day.”
Top Expat Tips – Use Business to Business networking with other Facebook Business pages to help find shareable content (and make some new business friends too). Don’t just sell on social media (because it is “social”) alternate your posts so they are a mix of specific to your niche, general and fun (Fiona’s now famous rule of three)
Fiona has created a 28 Facebook challenge running to help #makeithappen and get socially fit before the summer and you can join in too here.
You can create a successful business in Spain. And as with any business in any country, you need an idea, to know your target market and then to create a strategy, a plan, a goal, use the relevant tools and share your story. Don’t forget to find a “goalfriend” too! I hope you can use some of the tips to make it happen.