Amanda Wilby, an Executive Performance Coach based in the UK, outlines the following guidelines on how to make building your business abroad successful and stress free.
• Building a business at any time can be challenging and stressful, and choosing to do this in another country is adding further layers of complexity, so you will need to add-in extra time in your schedules and ‘results expectations’ for this complexity. Most businesses can expect to see some kind of result after about 2 years of work under culturally known circumstances. This may be slower within a foreign country and slower still if you are building your business on a part time basis (such as transitioning from full time work or parenting). There is no such thing as an overnight success.
• Be aware of cultural bias, but try not to let it limit you. You may be a ‘cultural interrupter’ that shakes things up for people and it can take time for people to adapt to novelty, so patience and tenacity are useful qualities to develop. There are two main levels to businesses – the small agenda (what services and products you are offering) and the big agenda – the impact and change you are bringing to the world. Be clear on what these two agendas look like and you can stand firm, authentic and passionate which will go a long way.
• With a higher level of complexity, it is a great idea to learn to use your brain efficiently and well so that the time you do have is used exceptionally well. Often the difference between gaining traction and experiencing progress in a business as opposed to stagnating, procrastinating or being overwhelmed is the thinking processes you are putting behind it. To learn how to run your brain more efficiently read David Rock’s ‘Your Brain at Work’.
• Build a business that works for you. It sounds crazy, but many times we seek freedom by building our own thing, only to build another prison for ourselves – as businesses grow they can become task-masters so think through the business model carefully and think about adopting practices that support you to have creative free time, such as using a virtual assistant and outsourcing tasks to Fiverr.com or peopleperhour.com
• Set appropriate working hours for yourself and stick to them – it’s important to keep your body and your mind energised (your greatest assets). Develop your self-management skills so that you can focus easily on the right task at the right time – know your limits and set personal boundaries. Maintain a healthy separation between who you are and who your business is.
• Spend five minutes at the end of each day acknowledging yourself for what you’ve achieved or overcome in the day (or the fact you are still breathing!), and another five planning the next day (unless tired in which case leave that for the morning). Attempt to complete a maximum of 2-4 key things in anyone day, your brain will love you for it!
Next time in the final part of our Female, Foreign and Entrepreneur in Italy series, our group of businesswomen talk about the milestones in their business lives, plus some of the more hilarious moments they have experienced along the way!