You have followed your partner’s relocation.
You have organized all the ins and outs of the moving process, found a place to live, settled the kids into school, planned their extra-curricular activities, joined a local newcomers’ association, socialized and already made new friends. You finally settled down in your new home.
You’re all set and, being a dual-career couple, you’re ready to look for a job!
Working is essential to your identity. It provides some financial independence, eases social integration and stimulates your intellect.
Following common recommendations, you sign up for volunteering time at school or at a local non-profit, attend local networking events, update your resume and LinkedIn profile, and start your job search.
Sounds familiar? I bet it does.
I’ve been an expat wife myself for over 15 years and have faced the same hurdles that every single one of you is having applying for paid employment abroad.
Some might be successful at finding a great job or dual-career opportunity at the same time and in the same place than their spouse or partner. But most won’t.
Additionally, if you do find work, what happens next time you relocate, when you have to move again to another place or return home? You’ll have to go through the same process all over again.
I’ve been along those same roads too many times in too many places and if there is one thing I know: looking for a job as an expat partner or trailing spouse is really a bad idea.
Ten Reasons Why Looking for a Job is a Bad Idea
1. You do not have the right visa and work permit
Like it or hate it, most countries do not allow accompanying partners to work with a dependent visa.
Of course, there are ways to secure a working permit for yourself but you’d have to find a company willing to offer you a position and sponsor you in order to obtain your own work permit. Few companies will do that unless you have exceptional skills and experience that are in demand and not available locally. And if that were the case, you wouldn’t be here anyway, you’d have a job already.
2. You do not speak the local language
You might be able to get around with basic knowledge of the local language but your level is not proficient enough to be able to work efficiently and communicate professionally.
English might be used as a lingua franca but will ultimately reduce your ability to be effective in your new environment. Look at it from the other side, locals use English as a common ground language but they speak their native language with their colleagues, other workers and, employees. And if you doubt this, just go to France and try to secure a job without speaking French… Good luck!
3. You do not have any support locally
Apart from very large corporations and some special companies, very few employers offer dual career possibilities and address partner issues.
Although employers report that a partner’s career or employment concern is the main cause of their difficulty to attract employees, there is little they can do. They hired your partner, not you!
4. You want a flexible work schedule
Flexible work schedules are gaining popularity in businesses worldwide but there are not yet very common practice in many countries.
Whether you’re looking for staggered hours, flexible work location or part-time employment, requesting special arrangements will probably not be supported by the company’s boss or managers.
5. You are overqualified
You do not mind accepting a position for which you’re overqualified. Unfortunately, most companies think otherwise.
They are concerned about not being able to “afford” your services, not being able to retain you long enough in the job, having a younger person managing older ones. They worry you’ll get bored or maybe will be an internal competitor and take their job, etc.Being “overqualified” serves as a recruiter’s excuse for not doing his job properly. It should be any competitive company’s focus to recruit “overqualified” employees to profit from their expertise. Well, their loss, your gain!
6. Jobs prospects are sparse
You can’t find anything available to Expats candidates.
Times are over when local economies where relying heavily on experienced foreign employees to manage and develop their local industries. More and more locals have received high-level education and training whether at home or abroad. They return home to takeover qualified positions in engineering, administration, finance, logistics, and management. Traditional jobs are disappearing at an alarming rate. There’s just not enough jobs available so very few are assigned to foreigners.
7. You’re looking for remote jobs
Finding a remote job is not easy since most job sites don’t really filter those out.
You will need to spend hours and hours researching. There are specific sites that advertise remote working but taking a remote position is almost like being an entrepreneur. You’ll have to work on your own, away from your company and co-workers, with little support. And if you have an entrepreneur mindset, why would you want to work for somebody else?
8. You’re interested in freelance work
Performing freelance work locally is not possible if you do not have the right visa or work permit, don’t speak the language or don’t have any support or network (see reasons #1, #2, #3).
Online freelancer sites mostly attract buyers who are looking for cheap labor workers who work for few bucks per hour gigs. It doesn’t mean that you can’t post your higher priced offer, the problem won’t be your resume or portfolio but your hourly rate.
9. You don’t know where to look next
Local job sites advertise mainly for local jobs and you do not know how to access the vast and hidden job market.
You will probably seek assistance from a third party such as a coach, counselor or therapist but again, that will not land you a job and you’ll still have to keep on looking.
10. You are running out of options
Now you feel the heat, you absolutely need a job and have no solution in sight.
You look at the most common bits of advice found on employment blogs and forums, Facebook groups or local networks. You ask your friends and here are the responses you get:
– Raise your Children
– Pursue your hobbies
– Learn the Language
– Go back to school
– Volunteer your time
– Join a Club
Déjà vu isn’t it?
What Should You Do?
I’ll tell you what. There is only one single thing that will ultimately fill your aspirations.
Start your own project from scratch and build your first international mobile business that you can run from anywhere.
Become a global solo-entrepreneur.
Build Your Mobile Global Business
There is never been a better time to start a location-independent business.
The digital economy is fast replacing all traditional business models and there is nothing to stop that evolution. Jobs, as we know them, are disappearing and skills in demand are no longer what they were just a few years ago.
In short, either you adapt or you stay behind. Without new skills, no work, back to square one again.You see, there is no other option than moving forward and embracing change.
Now you only one easy decision away, your choice:
a/ You go back to school, learn new skills, and, once you finished your program in 6 months, 1 year or more, you’ll start again with a new set of skills but no experience
b/ You learn new skills by doing, by taking action, one step at a time, with a learn as you go approach and you build your business while learning.
And that is everything there is to entrepreneurship. Nothing else. Take one step, learn, improve, learn, move forward, keep learning, always!
Why now is the best time to start
And most importantly…
You’ll regret it if you don’t act
You are more capable than you think. Do not assume everyone else is brilliant and you’re not. It is simply not true. We all have our uniqueness and competitive advantage to make an impact in this world and so leave behind the “I’m not good enough” impostor syndrome.
You are probably wondering:
Now all these questions run through your head with no answer in sight, or maybe too many. It is completely normal. We have an overload of available information, we drown into but all this doesn’t really make sense. It brings more questions than answers and it is difficult to sort through the clutter.
When you’re trying to start something new and uncomfortable such as a business from scratch, your mind will play all tricks to prevent you from taking action. That’s actually how we are wired. Who loves being uncomfortable anyway?
But it is just a trick from your brain. The process is actually simple, not easy, but simple. All you actually need is to follow a step by step plan to keep you moving forward.
My goal is to make that definitive step by step guide to help you start your first mobile global business.
A business you can start now and that you’ll be able to carry on when you move either to a new location or back home, a global business that won’t tie you down to one city or a local customer base.
Building your own portable career is definitely the best option with tremendous advantages and the relief to know that you won’t have to start over ever again.
I’ll show you how this works in a moment, but first, let me tell you how I arrived here.
My Sinuous Road to Global Entrepreneurship
After a couple of years in the USA, and more than 10 years living abroad in different countries and not being allowed to work due to visa restrictions, I received my first ever working permit: a US green card.
I could finally start working legally. (Note that I DO NOT encourage to work illegally, risks far outweigh the benefits)
a/Started with a Local Business
We lived in a remote area with few employment prospects so I decided to take the consulting route. I was passionate about a healthy lifestyle, and still is to this day. Americans were becoming more and more aware of the benefits of going green.
I signed up for some training, got my certification, worked on a business plan, started an official business set up, designed all my materials, props, etc. Weeks and weeks of work, high costs to set up, and I still had not validated my concept. Think of all the sunk costs, there is no way to give up on a project once you invested so much financially or emotionally.
Well consulting is nice when you have an expertise (which I had) but, like any other business, it takes time and hustle to develop a clientele. When things were finally starting to pick up, I was hit by a second cancer diagnosis and my hubby was being relocated to the Philippines. Too much on my plate, there was no way I could continue on the foundation I had started to lay down, my business was already doomed.
First lesson learned.
Do not invest too much time and money in a local business when you are not sure you are going to remain in that place. I see it every day with my expat friends, they put so much effort in selling their products locally only to have to start from scratch all over again when they move. If you know you’ll be there for the long term, maybe, but if you might be on the move again one day, why would you build something you’d have to leave behind?
b/Moved on to E-Commerce
I didn’t really see a path for me to pursue my green consulting business online. If only I had known then what I know now, but well, that’s the way life goes, doesn’t it? At that time, online business meant I had to sell products. I’m not a creative person and didn’t have a product in mind so my best option was to source and import products from Asia and try to sell them online.
And that’s what I did. I started from my home and grew from there. Again, I signed up for a course to learn the basics to get me started and followed a detailed how-to guide with a great mentor and a supportive online community.
Second lesson learned.
It is important to learn all the necessary techniques to start but there is no better training than taking action and figuring out solutions when problems arise. One step at a time!
c/ My Aha Moment
Going back to a place we had once called home was a rough reality. We didn’t fit in anymore! Being an ex-pat was not always easy, but being a re-pat, after so many years and experiences abroad, was much harder.
I had been importing and selling on Amazon for a couple of years but didn’t want to do this full time.
That’s when I figured out I had to do something differently. I didn’t want to just stay in front of my computer all day to make money, I wanted to meet and help others, share my knowledge and experience on how to build a truly location independent career.
Third lesson learned.
Starting a business is not hard but it is important to find out what’s your real motivation.
d/ What’s in there for you?
So now that you know more about my journey, let’s talk about you. How can you start your own project and global business?
Here are the big pitfalls to avoid (all explained in more detail later):
Well, I hope that gets you in the right mindset.
Basic Overview on How to Move Forward
First things first, let’s wrap our heads as it is easy to overthink.
“Whether you think you can’t, or you can, you’re right – Henri Ford
Understand that starting a global business today in the digital economy is pretty simple if you have a solid roadmap and a bit of hustle.
Just don’t fall for the bells and whistles of the “how to make millions overnight” or the get rich quick schemes that pop up on your social media feeds.
As any other business, it will require work and focus, but you can really build a profitable business for yourself with a small initial financial investment and leverage what you learn along the way to pursue your interests and grow.
Keep in mind that what works for the more advanced entrepreneurs, digital marketing specialists or professional influencers is not what you need as a solo entrepreneur starting out. The pros all have years of experience and solid teams of specialists on board that you cannot replicate at the beginning.
Nevertheless, never forget that you do not need to be perfect to be successful!
You need experience, and experience will teach you that it won’t kill you to do something for the first time.
Whatever it is you want to do, just try it, in a small way, take your first step and build your experience.
Roadmap to your first global business
Here’s the basic game plan and you don’t need a marketing guru to help you brainstorm, research or select your project.
Follow the one single simple rule that will get you started on the right path:
Start with you but do not make it about you!
That’s right, don’t make it about you.
Do not focus on what you want to do but what you’re good at doing, what skills you’ve developed, what challenges you’ve overcome.
Do not focus on what you want to sell but what you have to offer, how you can help solve a problem.
When you think about you, you’ll have a hobby at best or, at worst, a struggling business. By struggling, I mean that you’ll have to spend your time, energy and finances to reach out to potential customers and to keep your venture afloat.
Whether you already have an idea or you have none, follow our simple roadmap.
#1 – one page business plan
Who do you want to help, serve, guide with your product or service? Who is important to you? Who will your actions impact? Who do you want to spend the most time with? Who has the same interests that you want to address, the same problems, issues and challenges you want to solve?
Who will you make happy? Who will be buying from you? Who is your target customer, your audience?
Why do you want to do it? Not for the money, that will be the result. People don’t buy what you do but why you do it. So why do you care about your cause, your belief or your product? Why will people follow you?
Once you know your “Why”, you have the ability to inspire others and will easily figure out the How and the What.
How will you solve the problem? How are you going to implement it?
What is it you offer? What makes your unique proposition, your competitive advantage, your sweet spot? What makes you different from everything out there and stand out from the crowd?
Answer these four essential questions and your path to becoming a first-time entrepreneur is all cleared.
#2 – set up your online presence
You’ll want to test your products and validate your project before investing too much money in it.
You’ll name your business and build the minimum viable online presence.
You’ll avoid the high sunk costs that would ultimately weigh on your decisions.
This last part is essential and the part that most new entrepreneurs miss.
#3 – get it out there early
Business is all about exposure! If nobody knows what you’re doing, nobody will find you and buy from you.
Engage in passive marketing, post on social media, ask and answer questions, add a signature line to your emails, mention your web URL in your voicemail message, etc. Creative marketing can be highly cost-effective.
You are not aiming at perfection but need to make a good impression to you receive initial feedback and learn from it. Your customers are the ones that will tell you what they need, want or expect from you.
Listen to them and tweak your initial offering to meet their demands or expectations.
#4 – set up your legal structure
You do not have a business until you start selling so do not worry about administrative burdens during the initial phases. Get your project off the ground first.
But always keep in mind that when you have a visa that does not allow you to work, you cannot and should not engage in any business-related activity locally.
What does that mean? Avoid by all means advertising and selling your services and/or products through local groups, in local markets, associations and school bazaars. Do not advertise selling out of your home. This could jeopardize not only your legal status in the host country but also your partner’s career and family situation.
The way you’ll structure your business will ultimately define what you can and cannot do according to your specific situation.
This will be subject to a separate post to clarify available options. However, the information you obtain on this site is not, nor is it intended to be legal advice. You should consult an attorney for individual advice regarding your own situation.
# 5: learn as you grow
There is no point in trying to learn everything before taking your first step at building an online business.
You don’t need to be a professional programmer, an experienced web designer, a photoshop specialist or possess any other specific qualification.
Do not worry about your credentials or qualifications
Do not worry about marketing tactics and strategies
Do not worry about how to make money
You only need to start doing and learn what’s required to keep you moving forward to the next phase, one step at a time.
Step 1: take your first step, join us!
Tell us what are your main concerns? What prevents you from starting your own business? What blockage are you facing?
Please share your thoughts in the comments below.