Category Archives: Global Mobility

Confession #3: I hate multinational companies who try to make a deal at the expense of smaller vendors but I am drawn into the cycle of cost cutting through my clients as well.

Recently I held a talk about starting a business in Switzerland. It was a one-hour talk and I was not paid for it. This is a network sponsored by companies. I support their cause. I said yes. We discussed at length that my session would not be about technicalities or process because

1) This depends largely on the type of business you want to set up.

2) Most of this information is freely available online when you know how to use Google.

3) Many of the listeners were not yet sure whether to start a business or seek employment.

So we had agreed that I hold more of a motivational speech, sharing my story of entrepreneurship and my lessons learnt. I mentioned in my presentation that it is important to seek legal advice specific to the personal situation. Still, I got the impression that people were not fully satisfied with the information. What they need is a real business coaching. Only very little companies in Switzerland provide this helpful support for their expats and spouses though. One of my clients does. The expat spouses are very thankful. They are brand ambassadors.

Lesson #1: Support your expat spouses with high quality coaching!

 

In other instances I often get asked for free advice. Sometimes I am happy to “pay it forward” and I have helped many people in a 15 minute chat on Facebook but there is a point where I stop to give free advice. I also noticed that no one ever asked me for my time without paying when I was in a corporate role.

Since I started a business people sometimes behave as if I was unemployed. They think that I am available at random hours during the day (for a coffee at the airport). Many people think that it is fine to ask for my consulting, an article or a talk (without even mentioning payment). I understand that the internet has made free education and training possible but entrepreneurs need to earn an income too and once again I have to say: “Quality has a price!”. In my earlier blog post on “10 Professional Networking Principles” I have given you ideas how you can ensure that you deal sensibly with other people’s time.

If you are also an entrepreneur follow my advice: Only make time for contacts you feel have been appreciative and supportive in the past. Avoid the energy snatchers.

Lesson #2: Quality has a price! 

 

One client cut costs by avoiding all sorts of services (home search, settling-in).  The poor expat has to organize most of the relocation himself. We bend over backwards to find “cheap” workarounds. What happens is that everyone involved in the transfer has a lot more work, more coordination and conversation is needed.

In other areas cost cutting leads to overworked, stressed and long-term disabled staff through under-resourced teams. Considering that many of our clients still pay massive salaries and bonuses to their senior management I really wonder if the new processes, outsourced arrangements and work-arounds really benefit the bottom line.

We need to look into a lot of corporate processes with a fresh eye and from the perspective of our clients, cut out all the admin crap and just focus on delivering an outstanding service.

Lesson #3: Cutting costs at the wrong ends will increase complexity and stress!

 

What’s your take on this?

Please share this post with your cost-cutting corporate friends.

 

 

Due to the overwhelming BRAGER 1:7 yesterday we have reduced our prices for “RockMe!” and “GrowMe!” Programmes until the GRANDE FINALE on Sunday. Check out the offers in our online shop.

Go Germany!

 

...you need to have built trust to your clients before you launch new ideas.
…you need to have built trust to your clients before you launch new ideas.

As a business owner you have a lot of chores and tasks but your main task is to fulfill the needs of your clients. What frustrates me is when my bank, my supermarket or my other service providers do not seem to “get” what I need. What frustrates me even more is when I give feedback that they are just defending the status quo. When I invite them to have a conversation with me they do not listen…

But ACHTUNG: As entrepreneurs we might fall into the same trap.

We are often convinced that what we do is relevant and helpful for our clients. A few of our clients will not be 100% satisfied because we fail to notice the signs that scream “Hello, you are not giving me what I need.” Sometimes they simply had different expectations.

When is an idea ready to be launched?

When you are planning to launch your business for the first time or you are planning to launch a new service or product you might want to get together a small group of clients to “pilot” the service or product.

What type of relationship do you have to have to your potential clients?

Before you invite your clients to “pay” for anything you need to have built your credibility and a relationship of trust.

Why is it so hard to spend time and money on a course?

I know from my own experience that even though I would like to participate in a lot of courses the decision about spending time and money on learning and growing is often not a priority when we have to pay rent, food, children’s needs. Think of how much you would be willing to pay and under which circumstances. What would you need to go through or suffer from before you spend money on your own learning or a service? (It is a different story when your employer pays for it.)

What is a good price?

Price is a hot potato. You cannot undersell your service because you are running a business but at the same time you need to make it easy for your client to spend the money for what you offer. It needs to be reasonable but a no-brainer.

Global Mai 13 _071
Price can be a hot potato.

How well do you know your target market?

In order to judge what price is right you need to know your target market and their spending habits well. One example: I am happy to spend 100 CHF on a good manicure or a good wellness massage but I am not happy to pay 100 CHF for a credit card or to get my car repaired. Some expenses we are very happy to have as they make us “feel good”. Others just seem to be random and a waste of our financial resources. You get the idea?

How is Marketing related to this?

A secret of Marketing seems to be that it makes us “feel good” about the expenses that we do not necessarily want to have. You find tons of videos on youtube where Marketers will explain how they “sell” us a negative and convert it into a positive.

My advice is that you speak a lot to your clients in person and always have a pilot before you launch a product or service. Let me know what your experience is.

Don't believe everything they tell you online.
Don’t believe everything they tell you online.

Confession #2: I will never forget the shame and embarrassment when I had to collect my first ever payment summons from the “Betreibungsamt” (collection office).

You have to know that I am trying to be a “good” person in the roman-catholic sense of the word. I often disappoint myself. While I am doing a lot of the right work, serve my clients, help them improve their lives and run my own “charity” on the side, I sometimes get lost and slightly over-confident.

I tend to overspend. I learnt this the hard way. I never, ever in my life was really short of money. My life was always filled with luxury as long as I had a corporate role. Since I started my own business being short of money is the default.

I reached a point in year 2 of my business where I thought I had to “discipline” myself and ensure that all my expenditure is paid out of the income of my business account. In an effort to have it all I invested more than planned in office style and running costs. Some of my clients (large multinationals) suddenly adopted a policy of paying small business owners like me as late as possible and I had hired a few part-time consultant to work on “non-billable” work (so that I make faster progress on my work).

The cash slowdown and moments of Shame with a capital S

I ended up in this bottleneck of cash slowdown. (You have probably only heard of cash flow…so imagine a roaring, wild winter river that suddenly becomes a small trickle of water in a hot summer. Yes. That’s cash slowdown).

Do you feel embarrassed as a business owner? You do not have money to buy new clothes, you do not have money to go to the hairdresser? You avoid doctor appointments as your health insurance won’t cover those standard procedures? You have cut down on presents for your children, nephews and parents?

I know, it’s sad. You feel you need to justify and they look at you and ask “Why did you quit your job?”

I live in one of the most expensive cities in the world and my monthly rent is the same as the money I make running a four months career coaching programme. I work with dedication but I never seem to make “enough” and my pride forbids that I am asking husband or mother or friends (Oh the horror) for support. So I struggle on.. .

We do not like to hear these stories because the Internet is full of “success” stories. I believe though that people do not learn anything from success. We learn from failure. I never want to feel ashamed like this again. So I need to find a way to be able to pay my bills on time even if my clients are late with their payments. I can accept a certain level of embarrassment but there is a line. This line I will define for the future. As a business owner you need to juggle many balls.

  • You will face embarrassing situations.
  • You have to negotiate for good solutions.
  • You will work for “free” to win a client’s heart.
  • You will “volunteer” even though you do not have enough money to pay your rent.
  • You will meet potential clients for lunch or a coffee even if you cannot get cash from the bank machine.
  • You will stretch the limit of your credit card and get into a fight with your bank.
  • You will get angry and close your account and move to a different bank.
  • You will spend more time managing invoices than you ever did in your life.
  • You will pay an accountant more money than you can make in month just to make sure that you are not breaking a law.

Face it: That’s what it’s like to run a business (in the real world).

It’s part of the process. It’s also part of being a “good person”. It’s a part of growing up, of taking charge, of being independent and free.

You might think now: “I am not made for this.” And many people will tell you 1001 other reasons why you should not start a business and quit your well-paid corporate job for it. I tell you though that all the embarrassment is worth it. Freedom has a price. The price is that you will have moments of shame, moments of tears and moments of anger. What you win though is worth more than money can ever buy: You are free. You are creative. You change other people’s lives. You can spend time with your loved ones. You will have a smile on your face when you “go to work.”


We all know that a professional network is important but some of us are more eager to build and maintain their network than others. Especially if you are more of an introvert you might not like to run around at a large event. Consider these nine ideas for building your professional network.

​1) ​Go to a Toast Masters International event and learn public speaking at the same time​.

​2) Join the Swiss British Chamber of Commerce or a similar organisation.

3) Join the “International Club” in Winterthur.

4) Start your own Meetup-Group around your topic of interest.

5) Become a member of the InterNations Professional Networking group.

6) Book a seminar in your field of expertise, e.g. with ZfU Business School.

7) Host a party and show your cooking skills.

8) Take a dog from the “Tierheim” for a walk and strike up conversations with random people in the park.

9) Ask me for an introduction to one new person on LinkedIn. 🙂

As we all have hesitations around networking I have come up with “10 Professional Networking Principles”. You might want to read them before you reach out to the crowd.