Driven by a desire to switch the office for a laptop on the beach, to chase an international adventure, or to relocate for a loved one, more and more expats venture abroad. There is no typical profile when it comes to an expat-preneur. But rather than taking the traditional route of corporate-relocation, these expats start out their own business abroad. Not all of them move abroad with a preconceived plan. In many cases, these ventures only arise when they are already settled in their new host country. Just think about expat spouses, accompanying their partner for a job overseas and then start out as a teacher or freelance writer.
Expat-preneurs are adept at seeing and seizing market opportunities, wherever they might be. And let’s be honest, the increased connectivity and language skills make self-employment abroad feel a lot less daunting than it was for our parents generation.
Why are expats such good entrepreneurs?
Expats are, by definition, risk takers. Whether it’s a business idea, a loved one or wanderlust that gets you on the move, you are capable of uprooting your entire life and starting anew in a foreign country. Herein lays the secret. Starting a new business carries many of the same challenges as moving to a new country. Entrepreneurs often need to learn an entire new ‘language’ of business, establish networks and navigate through the cultural nuances of commerce. There are many similarities with starting a new life abroad. Both require persistence, resourcefulness and a sense of adventure, to face the challenges ahead. Perhaps this is why expats, who have already experienced major life changes with all its ups and downs, are so well equipped to ride the highs and lows of early-stage startups. Expats have more valuable qualities built into their immigrant experience. Being a foreigner in a new place makes them good at judging market needs and new opportunities from the outside. They are able to integrate the best practices from back home with those in their new country.
Expat Spouse: A Born Entrepreneur
Expat spouses are extremely well equipped to start out an entrepreneurial adventure abroad. Their immigrant experience gives them the confidence to start from scratch and their high education (often a post-graduate degree or Ph.D) arms them with talent, knowledge and skills. They are often multi-lingual, proactive networkers and willing to adapt and change in different situations. They are natural entrepreneurs. As expat spouse, you can thrive in your new host country by being a business woman with a clear vision and plan that is portable for possible future relocations. New technologies and improved communication allow you to set up and work anywhere in the world. This allows you to retain your professional continuity and identity, reclaim your independence and keep your flexibility. Especially for spouses with children, this independence and flexibility are a great advantage.
Being an expat-entrepreneur enables you to fulfill your business dream whilst maintaining a healthy work/life balance. So make the most of your international experience. Whether you have ambitions to be the next Bill Gates or to do business from your kitchen table, you can do it. You have the confidence to start all over and make the best decisions to meet your goals, because you have already done it in life. You are an expatriate spouse. You are a born entrepreneur.