Archive for January, 2010

Starting A Business Abroad: How To Choose Your Target Market Wisely

Posted on 29. Jan, 2010 by in Blog, Expat Entrepreneurs

You’ve been doing a lot of listening lately, and you have gained a pretty good understanding of what the market needs and wants. Now it’s time to choose your target market, that is to say, the kind of clients you’re going to market your products and services to.


Choosing the segment of the market with the most potential is an important and complex decision for any business, but as an expat entrepreneur, there are a few additional factors to bear in mind: (more…)

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Starting A Business Abroad: How To Get To Know Your Clients

Posted on 27. Jan, 2010 by in Blog, Expat Entrepreneurs

You’d like to advertise, but you don’t know where to run your ads. You want to make the right design choices for your website, but will your visitors like the layout you picked? You’d love to partner up with another blogger, but how to be sure you’re targeting the right readers?

Argh! It would be so much easier if you knew your clients better! Unfortunately, you have only worked with a handful of local people so far – and you can’t afford to do extensive market research to learn about their tastes, their behaviours and their habits.

Think that only big businesses with massive marketing budgets can gather detailed data about their customers? Not anymore. All the information is out there, and it’s absolutely free.

All you have to do is eavesdrop.


I know, I know – your mother taught you that it’s rude to eavesdrop. But I’m in no way advising you to go spy on your clients. You don’t need to, because every day, hundreds if not thousands of your potential clients are choosing to make their conversations public through social media.

It’s simply a matter of paying attention to what they have to say.

    Being in the right place at the right time


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    Starting A Business Abroad: Listen To Your Clients’ Words

    Posted on 25. Jan, 2010 by in Blog, Expat Entrepreneurs

    Now that you’ve figured out what your clients’ needs are, here is another thing that you want to listen for: their words. You want to learn the exact words they use to describe their needs, their lifestyle, and their expectations.

    Word cloud

    Speaking your clients’ language is the quickest way to establish rapport with them. When you explain what you can do for them in their own words, they feel heard and understood. It’s a bit like a secret handshake: it shows that you’re “one of them” and that you get where they’re coming from.

    As you can imagine, this process is even more vital if you’re going to be working in a language that isn’t your mother tongue. No matter how fluently you speak the local language, some small nuances or obscure cultural references are sure to elude you.

    Rather than reinvent the wheel (at the risk of getting it wrong), let your clients’ words become your own.

    You can easily tell when business owners fail to take the time to figure this out: they’re the ones who sound like they’re talking to themselves, using their own jargon, and forgetting that not everyone is an expert in their field.

    What they have to say may be very interesting, but it’s not engaging. And if clients cannot relate, why would they buy?

    What are the words and phrases that come back time and again when you listen to your clients? List them, and use them whenever you get a chance: make them your SEO keywords; put them in your website copy and your brochures; build your sales pitch around them.

    Magnetic poetry

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    Images via Chris Blakely (top) and birdwatchr1 (bottom), via Flickr Creative Commons

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    Starting A Business Abroad: Listening For Your Clients’ Needs

    Posted on 22. Jan, 2010 by in Blog, Expat Entrepreneurs
    1 comment

    Just listen

    As we’ve discussed in recent posts, your first duty as a business owner is to listen to your clients.

    But what should you listen for when you’re just starting out and don’t know very much about your target market yet?

      Listen for what your clients need (more…)

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      Starting A Business Abroad: Listen Hard

      Posted on 20. Jan, 2010 by in Blog, Expat Entrepreneurs

      Do you, like most foreign entrepreneurs I talk to, find it intimidating to launch a business in a country where you weren’t born, a country whose culture you don’t know inside out?

      Well, believe it or not, this may well be your greatest asset.

      Remember when we said that marketing was the art and science of listening to your clients? As an expat entrepreneur, you’re going to have to listen hard.

      Dachshund, all ears (more…)

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      Starting A Business Abroad: 3 Things Marketing Isn’t

      Posted on 18. Jan, 2010 by in Blog, Expat Entrepreneurs

      Now that we’ve covered the basics of planning and structuring your business, let’s spend some time looking at a key piece of your strategy: marketing.

      There are hundreds of fancy definitions of marketing, most of which read like something straight out of Dilbert.

      For our purposes, a basic definition of marketing could be: everything that has to do with defining, analysing, targeting, and satisfying your clients and their needs.

      Not so scary, is it? I know that you may have been exposed to many myths about marketing, most of which make it sound more complicated, costly and, ahem, sleazy than it is really is.
      So before we go any further, I want to dispel a few widespread misconceptions about marketing.

        3 things marketing isn’t


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        It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like… The Olympics?

        Posted on 15. Jan, 2010 by in Announcements, Blog, Musings & Inspiration

        It’s now official – I have received my accreditation form, so it’s really happening.
        For all of February, I will be acting as bilingual liaison for the French Olympic delegation during their stay here in Vancouver for the Winter Games.

        Olympic rings - Vancouver 2010

        This is going to be a lot of fun. It also means that I expect to be spending most of my waking time at the Olympic venue, and I will only a have a few hours a day to look after my business.

        What does this mean for you?

        I’ll try to make sure that there is little to no disruption to the usual blogging schedule, so that you get the expat tips and support you need, three times a week.
        Ideally, I’ll have all my upcoming posts lined up by the end of next week – needless to say, there’s a lot of writing happening at the moment!
        There will be a few guest posts too
        , so stay tuned for more details.

        What if you have an expat support call in February?

        If you already have scheduled calls with me in February, you don’t need to do anything – your calls will go ahead as scheduled.

        If you haven’t booked your calls yet and were thinking of starting expat support in February, I cannot guarantee that I will be available at a day and time that’s convenient for you, but I’ll try my best to make it work. So if you really need support ASAP, drop me a line and we’ll see what we can do – and if you hear a lot of French spoken in the background during our call, you’ll know why ;)

        Is this how TCKs feel?

        You know what’s funny? I just had my first informal meeting today with both the French and the Canadian coordinators, and never in all my years in Vancouver have I felt so strongly like a cultural hybrid.

        During our meeting, I observed how the Canadian “can do attitude” and culture of consensus was interacting with the French respect for hierarchy and more direct style of communication. It was a fascinating dance.

        The most interesting part is that, although I could clearly see these cultural traits at play, I wasn’t interested in judging them – I wasn’t tempted to side with the Canadian way of doing things, or the French way of doing things. I could see both sides of the issue, and the pros and cons of each approach.

        It felt like being a neutral observer, and it also felt a little schizophrenic
        , as if my own cultural traits fell somewhere in between French and Canadian, but didn’t truly belong to either sphere.

        Today, I think I experienced firsthand the way TCKs see the world.

        I can tell February is going to be an interesting month…


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        Images by Miss Barbaranov (top) and Ryan Chen (bottom), both via Flickr Creative Commons

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        Starting A Business Abroad: How To Create A Solid Contingency Plan

        Posted on 13. Jan, 2010 by in Blog, Expat Life, Working Abroad
        1 comment

        We’ve already talked about contingency plans when discussing why you’re going to succeed and how to choose the right business structure. Today we’re going to go into further detail, so that by the end of this post, you’ll be able to easily create your own plan and never have to worry about it anymore.

        Simply put, your contingency plan tells you what to do when things go wrong. It’s not about preventing things from going wrong – it’s about coming up with a strategy to deal with big bumps in the road, as efficiently and as painlessly as possible.

        Be prepared for the unexpected

        What to plan for


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        Starting A Business Abroad: Why You Need An Exit Strategy

        Posted on 11. Jan, 2010 by in Blog, Expat Life, Working Abroad

        You’re busy getting your business set up, and planning your exit strategy is probably the last thing on your mind. You haven’t even fully started yet, why on earth would you be thinking of getting out of your business?

        Figuring out what to do with your company when you no longer can or want to work in it is a key piece of your strategic planning. It’s also one of the most easily overlooked.

        Spiral straircase exit

        Put your mind at ease (more…)

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        Settling In Vancouver: 5 Essential Tips

        Posted on 08. Jan, 2010 by in Blog, Relocation, Working Abroad

        The first thing Vancouver-bound expats ask me is, “Do you have any tips?”
        Do I ever! (hey, it’s my job, after all!) You can find practical, everyday tips on many Vancouver blogs, so I’d like to give you a few cultural / personal pointers instead.

        Welcome to Vancouver - Airport sign

        1. Learn to sell yourself (more…)

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