Monday, 23 January 2012

Expat Entrepreneurs

Expats and entrepreneurs often share many similar traits. The ability to recognise opportunities, openness to change and coping under pressure for example. For our first post of 2012, we thought we’d begin by looking at an emerging breed of expats – the expat entrepreneur. SWMG6EC26P5M

Image source: Creative Commons- The Trampery in London

Moving abroad, expats might find more favourable policies, tax regimes, economic climate and infrastructure that really help to promote the entrepreneurial spirit and inspire expats to go down the start-up route. In other situations, people actively seek to move abroad to be in hotspots where start-ups naturally cluster be it New York, Berlin or East London and be part of the local tech scene.  

For those thinking of setting up their own businesses, there is a wealth of information out there to help you get started and tap into the right resources. Here, Expat Explorer shares some our our top tips for prospective expat entrepreneurs:

1. Connections, connections, connections

One of the most important takeouts experienced entrepreneurs will tell you is that, to build a successful business, it seriously helps to know the right people. Your ability to tap into the right circles, meet the right people and make the right connections can make all the difference in whether you thrive or survive.

2. Sign up to meetups

There are lots of events you can join to meet like-minded people both formally and informally. Events like Entrepreneur Week in New York and Silicon Drinkabout in London are just some examples. You can also attend your local Startup Weekend – an event where you pitch your idea and build a team around it in 54 hours. Teams go from idea to getting a business hacked together in a single weekend, means there’s no room for talk and no action. Check out this list for other great events to join.

3. Hire the right people

Starting up can be tough. That is why finding the right people from the beginning can make or break your business. Often your first couple of hires are those who will have a big input into your company’s direction. Having a complementary skill set and being able to get on well with them also helps given the long hours involved.

Speaking at Webstock in New Zealand, Kevin Rose, founder of Digg said:

“Ensure staff are committed to and understand your vision. Passionate, committed staff have a tendency to rub off on people. There is nothing like a new junior developer who runs circles around everyone to get people hyped up and raise the bar! Stay involved in the hiring process as long as you possibly can.”

4. Knowledge share and join co-working spaces

The value of knowledge sharing with peers is massively helpful to expats setting up their own businesses. Being with like-minded people and those who are going or have gone through similar challenges can help entrepreneurs problem-solve, bounce ideas and solutions off each other.

As you’re starting out, renting a desk in a co-working space can help surround yourself with other start-ups. Collaboration software developer, Huddle has put together this handy list of cool co-working spaces from around the world. See if there’s one near you!

5. Develop perfect pitch

Crafting the perfect pitch is a critical skill for expat entrepreneurs to have, be it for raising capital or to attract new business prospects. Knowing your business inside out and perfecting the elevator pitch is also a good start in getting your foot into the door. 

This Forbes article gives some great tips on developing and refining your pitch.

We’d love to hear from you other tips you have for entrepreneurs. Leave us a comment below.


  1. For expat female and mumpreneurs - make sure you get the most out of networking by finding the networking group that best suits your needs. I am an American expat working mother who, after years of networking and not getting much from it, found a networking group specifically for working mothers. It has benefitted my company - I'm subcontracting the right people, there is a huge amount of trust and a constant stream of new work. Make sure you isolate what you need to get (and give) out of and to networking and then find the right place for you. It will make a great difference and inspire you to make the most of your business challenges.

    1. Hi Meghan, thanks so much for your comment and words of advice. Are there any networking sites online that you could point our readers to? Good luck with your business and networking!

  2. Yes!

    And here is one based in Canada:

    PS it's also a great way to meet people and to establish a support network. Because we are expats, we don't have family around for support and to bounce ideas off of so the networking group I belong to really helps me with that.

    1. Thanks Meghan! I'm sure our readers will find that very useful.

  3. I agree with your list look for a better worker. Best management and workers would make the business profitable and successful.


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