ABC of expat woman's life: E - Entrepreneurship

Many of the expat women I talk with are considering changing their career path and one of the popular choices that lately come across is to become an entrepreneur.

One of my clients who is giving self-employment a serious thought asked me recently: "Can everyone become an entrepreneur or is there a certain set of characteristics that make a successful entrepreneur?" 

Shall I start my own business abroad?

To answer the question: "Shall I start my own business abroad?" there are a couple of key questions you need to ask yourself first.

The business plan and the market selection is of course important, but in my opinion it all starts with asking yourself the following questions:
- What is your motivation?
- What do you want to achieve?

The best way to tackle these key questions is to identify the top three work-related factors that are important to you. What do you value most about work: social contacts, teamwork, money, recognition etc.

So, just take a piece of paper and write down the answers, and think whether working for yourself will satisfy those factors!

Necessary skills to become an entrepreneur

Whether your business will become successful or not depends on your talents and skills. Imagine two people starting the same business. Will they be equally successful? Why?

Various research on entrepreneurship shows that people with certain sets of talents / skills are more prone to be successful in their own business. Have a look at the following personal traits and skills:

 Personal traits of an entrepreneur

- Self-confidence

Do I believe in me? Am I able to transfer this belief to my services and products? 

- Self-motivation & discipline

Am I able to motivate myself on a daily basis? Am I disciplined enough to work without managerial structure?

- Courage

Am I courageous enough to make certain decisions? Am I a risk taker?

- Action minded

Am I a doer or a thinker? The ability that makes a successful entrepreneur is not his / hers intellect but the ability to put things in action.

- Resistance

How do I react to stress? How will I react to failure?

- Determination

Can I work very hard for a longer period without immediate success?

- Working independently

Are you ready to give up on contacts with your colleagues?

- Enthusiasm

Can I transfer my enthusiasm?

- Creativity

Am I able to continuously invent new ways of promoting my business?

The above mentioned personal traits are to a great extent inherent. Obviously if some of them are not your strongest points you can always decide to work on them.

It is however very important to assess your entrepreneurial profile and become aware of your strengths and weaknesses. Luckily the following skills (for example time management) are easier to work on. Besides, you can also outsource some of them.

 Entrepreneurial skills

- Communication skills

Can I successfully present myself and my business?

- Networking skills

Am I open to meeting others, listening to and sharing with them my ideas and plans? Self-employment success depends on the ability to connect with others.

- Time management

Can I prioritise and stick to the deadlines?

- Sales skills

Can I persuade others to buy my product or services?

- Planning & organising skills

Am I able to set up plans / goals and execute them?

- Negotiation skills

Can I negotiate and create a win-win situation with my business partners?

Steps for a successful business

Setting-up your own business can be a blessing (re-inventing yourself, professional opportunities etc.) or a curse (official issues, rules and regulations of the new country etc.).

Be honest when answering the above and always follow these  7 steps:
 Assess your motivation, strengths and weaknesses
 Define your market, product / services and strategy
 Find a name for your business
 Draft a business plan and get the necessary funding
 Design the marketing strategy
 Register your company
 Work, work, work until you make it!

Dorota Klop-Sowinska


Dorota Klop-Sowinska

Official Member of Forbes Coaches Council. I specialize in international career and expat coaching. I am the author of the book Career Jump! How to Successfully Change Your Professional Path...

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