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Crissy-bw-web150Knowitall.ch has teamed up with expat entrepreneur, Crissy Mueller, to provide you with a series of blog articles, offering advice on how to set up your own business in the Lake Geneva region. 

Crissy provides writing, editing and translation services through her company, Writing that Works. Her mission is to help businesses and individuals get the results they want though quality writing in English.

Before starting her own business, Crissy worked for companies and organizations in Germany, Switzerland and the United States, where she managed and coordinated a variety of programs at the intersection of education, travel and cultural exchange.  She has a Master’s degree in International Relations from the University of Cambridge, and a Bachelor’s degree in International Relations and German from Tufts University.

She is passionate about intercultural communication, entrepreneurship, and discovering how to live life to the fullest.

www.writingthatworks.net

WorkfromHome web

Photo courtesy of Alicia Solario

By Crissy Mueller, Writing that Works

If you are considering starting your own business based out of your home – I want to dispel any illusions. Working from home is one of those things that it’s easy to be perhaps too optimistic and maybe a little naive about. (If you are a working mother, it’s even trickier). Yes, it’s great to be able to curl up in front of your laptop wearing comfy clothes and no makeup. That part is true. But, there are lots of expectations that need to be managed, including – or maybe especially – your own.

Here’s what you need to know:

  1. Your spouse will sometimes forget you have a job because you happen to work at home. (Spouse or partner needs to realize that no, you will not have time to re-organize the pantry on Monday).

  2. You yourself will feel like you should have the house clean and the laundry done at all times – even though it’s impossible. Ok, maybe you can sneak in one or two quick household tasks (say, in lieu of taking a coffee break) – but not much if you want to stay focused.

  3. Distractions are lurking everywhere. Boundaries are essential. This applies even to the most disciplined and focused of us. On the other hand, sometimes you only realize how long you have been sitting in front of the computer when your leg muscles completely go numb from lack of movement.

  4. If you have an urgent project and your kid is sick and can’t go to daycare – it doesn’t matter if you work from home or not. The inconvenience and frustration is the same.

  5. If you don’t allocate time for business development – there will be no business development. If you’re a mom, your kids need to be in daycare or otherwise cared for in order for this to happen. My point is that you have to build in the time. Period.

  6. It’s hard to work in a bubble. The lack of contact with other people – just for the mental break and change of pace – is hard. Of course it’s nice not to have typical office distractions to deal with – they can take away so much time. But having no opportunities for friendly, banal exchange during the day is perhaps just as detrimental. You still need people. Building a network for this is key.

Working from home is not necessarily easier or less stressful than an office job – it’s just different. If you weigh all the pros and cons and decide to go for it, here are some great resources about working from home:

http://www.workfromhomewisdom.com/

http://www.forbes.com/sites/jacquelynsmith/2012/08/16/how-to-succeed-at-working-from-home/

http://www.womenunlimitedworldwide.com/work-from-home/ 

At home, you have more flexibility. But, beware that you could end up feeling frustrated if you harbor the expectation that you should be “doing it all” (as we moms tend to do). This is perhaps one of the key expectations that needs to be managed. The bottom line is: work-life balance is still hard, no matter where your “office” is.

Bio

Crissy-bw-web150Crissy Mueller is an expat entrepreneur based in the La Côte region of Lake Geneva. She provides writing, editing and translation services through her company, Writing that Works. Her mission is to help businesses and individuals get the results they want though quality writing in English.

Before starting her own business, Crissy worked for companies and organizations in Germany, Switzerland and the United States, where she managed and coordinated a variety of programs at the intersection of education, travel and cultural exchange.  She has a Master’s degree in International Relations from the University of Cambridge, and a Bachelor’s degree in International Relations and German from Tufts University.

She is passionate about intercultural communication, entrepreneurship, and discovering how to live life to the fullest.

Website: www.writingthatworks.net


crissyblog success

Photo courtesy of lockstockb

By Crissy Mueller, Writing that Works

Here’s a little secret: I am not an extravert. I am not a dreamer. At least, not the “see-opportunity-around-every-corner” kind.  But I went ahead and started my own writing services business anyway, and I am very happy that I did. 

It turns out, there is a way to be successfully self-employed, even if you don’t have all the typical qualities we associate with successful entrepreneurship. The answer, in my experience, is that you have to know your weaknesses, and take action on them. 

Image-Attract-Local-Clients

Photo courtesy of nellart

By Crissy Mueller, Writing that Works

One of the challenges you might face as an expat building up your own business here is how to attract local, non-English speaking customers/clients, especially if you don’t speak the language (well). Can it even be done? How?

I would say the answer is YES. It’s possible. At first, it might seem daunting. But with just a little effort and perhaps investing in the right resources, it could make a huge difference to your bottom line. Here are some ways to get started:

1.Learn about the local business and consumer culture

The gap between the “international” and the “local” might seem larger than it actually is simply because of lack of knowledge. The best place to start is to research the business culture in Switzerland. Switzerland is a bit complex because of the four different language regions – but there are some overarching commonalities as well. Many helpful points on doing business in Switzerland are summarized here. Also, observe the ways other companies in your niche advertise and market their businesses. Gather samples of flyers, etc. Watch some Swiss TV commercials. What do people seem to like.

2.Meet local people

Getting to know local people is key, and not just necessarily in a business networking setting, but in any setting. Good options are networking opportunities available through organizations such as OWIT Lake Geneva (mostly geared towards women). The Workshops and Seminars section of the knowitall.ch calendar is also worth keeping an eye on. For an excellent opportunity to meet other local entrepreneurs, look out for the “Free for Lunch” events organized by the Business Club of the Vaud chamber of commerce (CVCI). This event brings together local business executives for an informal networking opportunity over lunch. While the Business Club itself is open to members only, anyone can attend events like this one as it’s organized in cooperation with International Link (an organization created by the CVCI to promote the integration of expats in the region). Look out for the next “Free for Lunch” event (and many others) on the International Link calendar.

colourfuljigsawpuzzle web

Photo courtesy of spekulator

By Crissy Mueller, Writing that Works

If you are thinking of setting up your own business, one of your first decisions will be what to call it. The name you choose will be the basis for your whole branding/marketing strategy – and will hopefully create a powerful first impression.

The fun part (at least, for us right-brain thinkers) is coming up with something catchy and original. There are lots of resources and tools to do this, many just a mouse click away, including everything from articles written by experts on latest trends to mind mapping and other tools to get your creative juices going.

But then there is the whole, legal/administrative side to consider, which is what I want to focus on here. There are a few limitations particular to Switzerland that it’s good to be aware of before you launch into the creative part. If you’re an expat lacking fluency in one of the country’s official languages, finding information about these legal guidelines in English all in one place is not so easy. I am by no means an expert on all this, but here are a few useful things to keep in mind from my personal experience as a fellow expat, to give you a place to start.

Image-Start-Own-Business 448

Photo: ciscokid

By Crissy Mueller, Writing that Works

Have you ever wondered whether you should start your own business?  If you’re an expat looking for work in Switzerland, or unsatisfied in your current job, this thought may have crossed your mind.  It raises some tricky questions: How hard is it for foreigners in Switzerland to become entrepreneurs?  And, more importantly, do you have what it takes?  

The answer to the first question will depend on your particular line of work. But for a small, one-person, service-providing business, I can say from experience that it hasn’t been all that difficult. The administrative hurdles are manageable. But I am not going to get into the administrative aspect for now.

Tackling the “do-you-have-what-it-takes” issue is, for many of us, much harder.

It’s often about fear of failure, and this probably deters a lot of people from starting their own business.  

If becoming an expat entrepreneur sounds tempting – yet overwhelming – breaking the process down into this step-by-step approach can help you make it a reality: