Congratulations if you are preparing to give up familiar surroundings and head off to a new country. It takes courage, preparation, and planning to be successful in the transition. The rewards have been often described by many expats as "very fulfilling!"
If working is part of the plan, then let me offer some points to ponder prior to your exit from the homeland. Unless employee orchestrated your move, then these four checkpoints just might save you some grief after you settle into your new home. I am confident that your due diligence will be most worthwhile.
Find work you truly enjoy
First, the work that you are fixated on doing should be work that you truly enjoy. There are going to be challenging adjustments to your alternative lifestyle, regardless of which country you will move to.
So I suggest these changes will be easier to handle if your work remains a joyful activity.
If you have a powerful passion for it, then all the better! Your move to a new country can be the start of a new life phase, so begin the process by thinking about activities consistent with your core values and desires. We all have repressed passions and these are fertile prospects for defining work you will truly love.
Plan time to get "up and running"
Next, plan extra time for getting the business or service “up and running.” Despite your best efforts to plan for every eventuality, you will encounter surprises. Everybody does. I never expected that it would take nine visits to the bank to get my account set up, for example. Nor did I plan for two trips to Peru (from Ecuador) to complete a more permanent visa status.
Consider starting your enterprise on a part-time basis until you have overcome the time requirements for basic adjustments to your new environment.
Expect that shopping and transportation will take more time than it used to and know that you are going to want to explore new restaurants, sights, and adjacent towns or pueblos. Starting a new enterprise can easily suck much of your free time from the daily schedule.
Confirm there is demand
Third, reconfirm that there is a demand for your unique proposition. Web designing might have been a lucrative endeavor back home, but you might not charge what you wish or find the customers you seek as quickly as you expected.
Survey the marketplace before jumping in with expectations based on a different market scenario. Learn who your competition is and observe how diversified their services offerings are. Are they multi-tasking to get by? These are valuable clues to help gauge the market for your skills.
Have a marketing plan
Last but not least, have a marketing plan. It is commonly said that up to 90% of success in business is marketing. Have you studied the marketing styles and techniques frequently used in your new country? What are the major media sources of information for the locals and for the expats? Does radio work better than television or magazines for sales conversion?
What are the new demographics? Countries other than North America or Europe might well have a younger population. How is the internet accessed there and by whom? Is it reliable? Knowledge about effective marketing techniques in your host country can make or break your chances for success.
Inspired by the locals
Let me close by saying that I am continually inspired by the natives of Cuenca, Ecuador (Cuencanos) and their entrepreneurial spirit.
There are jugglers on some street corners performing at red lights, vendors of brooms and mops that walk some districts, and there are “brigades” of recyclers that are out early on garbage collections days collecting plastic and cardboard for resell.
There are many part-time barbeque chefs cooking bananas or skewers of chicken and beef to passersby. Others offer services ranging from gardening, driving, being a maid or offering Spanish classes.
One neighbor of mine has a three-item menu which includes hamburger, chorizo or a hot dog. They open a walk-up serving window in their yard fence at 4 p.m. and serve a steady stream of clients until about 11. Also within a block of my home, there is a seamstress, fruit and vegetable vendor, internet café, home bakery, and an ice cream shop.
Being around such creative endeavors and activity every day does wonders for one’s own sense of innovation and self-inventory.
What kinds of businesses have you seen in your new home? What are you inspired to do?
by: Gary Kissel