Dreams of being a self-employed expat...
When it comes to expat work, self-employment remains a popular alternative to traditional expat assignments. After all, being your own boss and working in a warmer climate sounds like a dream come true for many people.
For instance, about 25% of all self-employed people in the UK consider opening an office or business elsewhere. For most of them, it is the lure of a better work-and-life balance that draws them towards the expat work experience. Others consider rising taxes as a reason to relocate their business abroad, while a third sub-group believes that expat work abroad will increase their chances for a profitable future.
Becoming a Self-Employed Expat
The most popular locations for self-employed expat work are Australia and New Zealand. There, many an expat from the UK opens a business in the field of hospitality and leisure, banking and finance, or the professional services sector. With access to enough capital and a marketable idea, self-employment is an attractive alternative to typical expat work assignments.
Prior experience with running a business is the essential ingredient for becoming a self-employed expat and succeeding at work abroad. Entrepreneurship is always a tricky business, and as an expat, the danger of falling through the cracks is even greater.
Business-reference libraries, chambers of commerce as well as commercial attachés of embassies and high commissions can offer a lot of information on work abroad for the self-employed expat. Other expats who have some prior experience in your country of choice and who may even have started a business themselves also make for a great resource.
Facing Visa Restrictions
Any expat who wants to open a business abroad usually faces harsh visa restrictions. Immigration offices are rigorous and don’t just dole out visas and work permits haphazardly. Many self-employed expats, however, have managed to open offices, cafés, hotels and other businesses abroad, which goes to show that this barrier can be overcome.
But while it is not impossible, a lot of preparation and research is necessary before self-employed expats can apply for a visa. It takes more than just a life-long dream to be a self-employed expat and work abroad.
The Right Mix
What it takes more than anything else is the right mixture of adventurousness and a realistic assessment of the situation. A can-do attitude is essential, but if it leads you to throw all caution to the wind it can be detrimental as well. While it is certainly not the best approach for self-employed expats to ponder over all the difficulties and risks they’ll have to face, it would be equally wrong to neglect them completely.
The simple rule is: Do your research, know the market, be prepared, believe in your idea – and don’t let anything stop you! Don’t forget that there are cultural differences, too, when it comes to following your dream. Some nationalities are more prone to take risks than others. In some countries, people may think you’re crazy if you turn up with a half-baked business idea. In other parts of the world, entrepreneurship and a go-get attitude are much more part of the national mentality, so to speak. As a self-employed expat, you might have more luck with the latter.