Expat entrepreneurs live a certain lifestyle that allows them to be at home in a foreign country so to speak. There are different reasons why people move abroad. Retirement, health reasons, family, the climate, the career of the other half for example. I have been living abroad for longer periods in my life and I have always enjoyed it. For me, being a Dutchman living in foreign countries has always been good. We meet each other in the so called expat communities and find ways to support each other on may occasions. This really is an article based upon my own experiences and observations.
Expat Entrepreneurs Categories
I have been observing quite a few people who moved abroad initially for job reasons. If they are not diplomats who are automatically rotated to next destinations, they usually end up in three categories after the expat contract has come to an end.
1. Accept a regular job
Usually, this happens if they get roots in their new country and need to make a living. Continuing the profession they had is the easiest way to keep themselves going in the host country. Big disadvantage usually is the drop in salary, bonuses and other nice perks that come with an expatriate contract. Life is all about choice.
2. Go back or move on
If they do not have roots in the host country, they are likely to move on again. Either to another location on another expatriate contract or they might simply go back to where they came from.
3. Become self employed
If you like to be in a foreign country and have saved up some cash from your expatriate assignment, becoming an entrepreneur is a very attractive option. Most of these entrepreneurs tend to choose something they can take with them should they decide to move on. Also, because they are not completely local or might not speak the language, they typically benefit from globalization allowing them to plug in from anywhere in the world.
This way, you can set up your own company, provide a service or sell products, make a good living and still keep your options open. I am obviously situated in this category and I love it!
I found the mindset of getting started in a foreign country and becoming an entrepreneur are not that dissimilar. They are both pioneers so to speak.
Typical Expat Entrepreneur Activities
Expat Entrepreneurs often do something that provides them with an experience and skill they can take with them should they decide to move on again. At least that is my experience when talking to people.
– Real estate. Many expats who stay go into real estate business. Helping others (foreigners) to find accommodation in a foreign country, like they did when they first came. I have a couple of real estate project going myself.
– Tourism related services. A friend of mine is a medical doctor offering medical tourism services in Central Europe where fees for medical or dental treatment are more affordable than in the US.
– Online services. I am working with a friend of mine currently to establish an online academic resource service. Once this is up and running, we can take it to anywhere we want to.
– Internet Marketing. My own core activity is around Internet Marketing and helping other setting up their businesses working from home. This is a fast growing industry and obviously meets my own criteria of flexibility and portability.
– I also have seen people bringing products and services from the US to Europe and the other way around. Mostly as franchise entrepreneurs (see on of my next articles).
Do You Have What It Takes To Be An Expat Entrepreneur
To be successful as a entrepreneur requires you to adopt a certain mindset allowing success to happen. Worry, fear, procrastination are your worst enemies, so take action to eradicate those first. Beyond that, it helps if you adopt a mindset of persistence and growth.
Being in a foreign country gives an extra dimension to being an entrepreneur in terms of an extra excitement that keeps you moving ahead.
In terms of material things, it helps if you have some cash at hand allowing you to survive a couple of months when starting up your business. You also would need to get your infrastructure sorted in terms of computer access, Internet access and so on. The good news is that telephony has become virtually free by now using online Internet telephony services mostly. You can conduct business all over the world at extremely low cost levels now.
In terms of your attitude, set goals and commit yourself to an action plan to achieve them. You need to be able to learn new things quickly rather than being slowed down by minor obstacles. For example, if you have a weakness in advertising online, get yourself trained up quickly, adopt it as a new skill and get the ball rolling again.
Being able to structure your own day obviously is very important. I follow a rigid exercise scheme to keep me motivated. I also ensure to meet enough friends for lunch or coffee to keep me socially engages as well.
If you like this type of lifestyle go for it is my honest advice. There are plenty of legitimate business opportunities around. Keep in mind that the price of success is much smaller than the price of failure, so it is wise to give it your full energy and overcome obstacles quickly.