Sunday, July 18, 2010

Guest Post: "Why Expat Women Make Great Entrepreneurs" by Karen Armstrong Quartarone

Expat women are a special breed… adventurous, resilient, open to new experiences, and just down right sassy. They also happen to make great entrepreneurs. Here’s why…

Expat Women are Risk-Takers

Whether you’re an accompanying spouse or you went to live abroad on your own, as an expat woman you’re a risk-taker. You left the comforts of home and ventured out into the world. You took a leap of faith and stepped out into the unknown. There was risk involved because you didn’t know what was waiting for you as you crossed the border into expat life. Entrepreneurs know that risk-taking is part of the game. They know that in order to build a successful business they have to take calculated risks and accept responsibility for the outcome. They know it’s true: nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Expat Women Know the Meaning of Perseverance and Determination

Your first few months in your new country probably weren’t very easy… a new language, a new culture, new sights and sounds. You committed to going abroad and you were determined to make it work. Despite the times you wanted to pack your bags and catch the next flight home, you pressed on. Entrepreneurs are faced with good times and bad, but they don’t give up when the going gets tough. They remember why they started their business and dig deep for the strength to persevere. They know that the brick walls are there to test their determination and they know that “failure” is just a temporary setback that tests their resolve.

Expat Women are Organised and Focused

I don’t care if your home looks like it was hit by a tornado. The fact that you got everything together and made it out of your home country proves that you have at least some sense of organisation. With so many things to arrange prior to your departure and everything else that needed to be done upon your arrival, you had to be organised. And you had to be focused while taking care of it all. Successful entrepreneurs cut through all the clutter and organise their resources. They have a lot to get done, but they focus on the task at hand and see it through to completion.

Expat Women are Adaptable

No matter how well organised you are, your expat journey has likely taken some unexpected twists and turns. You were a bit thrown off by unforeseen events, but you quickly shifted to plan B and rode the curves of the windy expat road. Entrepreneurs don’t enjoy the predictability that most employees do. They have to adapt to changing markets and create new products and services. They shift gears easily as the wants of their clients and customers change.

Expat Women are Growth-Oriented

You wouldn’t have explored new lands if you weren’t open to new ideas and experiences. In leaving your familiar surroundings and venturing into the unknown you had to stretch beyond your comfort zone. These are clear signs that you’re growth-oriented. Successful entrepreneurs are lifelong learners. They continuously seek to expand their awareness and test themselves with challenging projects. They know that in order to grow their business, they have to grow themselves.

Expat Women Seek Out a Support Network

Unless you’re still in the “honeymoon” phase of your expat journey, you’ve probably reached out to other expat women. You enjoy connecting with like-minded women who share your adventurous spirit and can relate to your experience. As an entrepreneur, the road can be a lonely one. Successful entrepreneurs know they can’t go it alone. They seek out a network of kindred spirits who support their success. They brainstorm ideas, give feedback, share wins and victories, and cheer each other on during the uphill times.

There are many other reasons that expat women make great entrepreneurs – these are just a few. If you’re an expat woman entrepreneur, I imagine you can relate to these and come up with a few of your own. If you’re an expat woman who’d like to become an entrepreneur, know that you have what it takes to start your own business – because every entrepreneurial venture starts from within.

Karen Armstrong Quartarone is the founder of Expat Women Entrepreneurs, a worldwide community of entrepreneurial women living abroad who want to thrive in their expat life.

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