Thursday, 19 August 2010

Expats in business

Expatriates operate in a variety of industries from large multinationals to small entrepreneurial ventures and partnerships. Whether a move abroad is career motivated or due to other factors the benefits of a change in lifestyle and culture are certainly not limited. Many successful businesses have been launched as a result of entrepreneurs living the expat life. Not only do many set up and run their own businesses, but many are of the opinion that the expat lifestyle has helped the business to grow and develop into a highly successful venture.

Source: Flickr

Entrepreneurs Sara Delaney and Ellen Lobler are a perfect example of the success the expat lifestyle can bring to a business. They set up their fashion consultancy business ‘LoblerDelaney’ after meeting in 2006 and realizing that they shared many interests that could lead to an exciting business partnership. When the business was first set up Ellen was the only one to be living the expat life, away from her native home of the Netherlands. Before long a change in circumstances saw Sara relocate with her family to New York and although doubt lingered over the future of LoblerDelaney, the pair decided they were both determined and passionate enough about the business to ensure they did everything they could to keep it going. The business has been up and running from opposite sides of the Atlantic for four years now and the pair have seen their client list expand significantly since Sara set up operations in New York.

The Challenges

Sadly setting up a business abroad requires a lot of hard work and expats often face many challenges, from overcoming language barriers to adapting to new cultures and tackling gender stereotypes.

Expats in business often go unnoticed and customers assume that successful businesses have been created on years of local knowledge and expertise. Setting up your own business is a challenge for anyone but trying to get to grips with the different culture of your market as well as their buying preferences will take intensive research, commitment and a serious investment of time.

We would love to hear from other expats that have set up successful businesses abroad and believe that the expat lifestyle has contributed significantly to their success. Get in touch and share your advice and experiences!


  1. As a serial expat entrepreneur and someone who works with other expats to grow their business I agree with your points.
    Some of the challenges of the expat business are similar to small businesses world wide. From my experience and looking at the challenges my clients face, the biggest challenge working in an unknown market is to ensure your market is ready for your services/products. No point launching an online shopping portal if internet penetration is 20%.

    My advice for expats looking to set up is to make sure:
    1. they don't just focus on their craft but put their energy on marketing and selling it to their niche market. You can be the best accountant in the world, if nobody knows it you wont get any clients.
    2.Think and rethink the real reason WHY you are going into business. When the going gets tough (and it will), the WHY is what keeps you going
    3. Find your Hedgehog
    4. Have fun!

  2. Long term perspective is a key - culture differences can bite you in the leg even after years of 'immersion' in a culture.
    And John's comments are spot on: know WHY, and have fun!

  3. Successful expats and successful entrepreneurs have many traits in common: a sense of adventure, the ability to take measured risks, adaptability, resourcefulness... so maybe there is a kind of entrepreneurial predisposition among expats?

    Of course, this doesn't mean that everything expats touch turns to gold.

    Like John said, if your positioning is not clear, if your concept is not thought through, if you don't know how to sell yourself... then it doesn't matter where in the world you are, your business simply doesn't have a fighting chance.

    As for me, expatriation made my life much easier as a business owner. I certainly do not miss my home country's red tape and high taxes, and I find Canada rather business-friendly.

  4. Setting up an expat business is not without its challenges, but it affords you the opportunity to work with people all over the world from the comfort of your own home!

    As an expat business owner and someone who helps expats grow their business, it is critical that you do the work to understand how your own purpose, passions, values and unique gifts are expressed through your business if you are to push through those hard moments and realize professional satisfaction while enjoying your life abroad.

  5. I would like to say that this blog really convinced me, you give me best information! Thanks, very good post.

  6. Hey, nice site you have here! Keep up the excellent work!

    How to Setup a Business


Have your say here



Related Posts with Thumbnails