Expat Entrepreneur: Stephanie Ward
Follow up and follow through advises Stephanie Ward whose only complaint is traffic jams en route to doing business in the Netherlands.
Name: Stephanie Ward
City of residence: the Netherlands
Name of company: Firefly Coaching--Igniting Business
Company launched in: 2002
Can you give us a brief description of your business and how it is going?
Firefly Coaching s all about business. I’m a marketing coach for entrepreneurs and I help small business owners attract more clients and grow their businesses. Many of the people I work with are expats living in the Netherlands. I also work with Dutch people and people all over the world. I help my clients get clear about their business so it’s easier for them to market and grow. I encourage my clients to offer valuable free information to people who might be interested in their businesses. This way they can ‘share’ instead of ‘sell.’ I do the same and offer a free special report, 7 Steps to Attract More Clients in Less Time, plus monthly business building tips at my website www.fireflycoaching.com. Business is going really well. I recently launched a brand new version of my website and will have new products available in the coming months.
What do you like about doing business in your country of residence?
I love the diverse international group of people that live and work in the Netherlands. The Dutch culture of directness makes doing business largely transparent, and because so many Dutch people are fluent in English, I’ve been able to attract Dutch clients (I do all of my business in English).
What do you find most frustrating about doing business in your country of residence?
I haven’t encountered many frustrations with actually doing business. One frustration en route to doing is business is being stuck in the infernal traffic jams. Luckily, I’m not on the road every day and love working from my home office--a commute of only minutes.
What hurdles did you encounter when setting up?
None to speak of, it was quite easy. I just had to complete a form for tax purposes and a form to register my business with the Chamber of Commerce (with help from a Dutch-speaking person).
How has the economic crisis affected your business?
I honestly think it’s always a good time to start a business (or be in business) regardless of what the economy is doing. I believe there are always people who want what your business has to offer and are willing to invest in it; it’s just a matter of identifying them. Having said that, when there is a downturn in the economy, you may have to put more energy into your marketing.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs setting up business in your country of residence?
Be sure you have a strong business model. Know who your ideal clients are and what specific problems your business solves for them. Create an interactive website (not a static brochure) and make sure to include social media in your marketing strategy. If your business serves clients in the Netherlands and beyond, register a .com domain name (and be sure to buy the .nl version as well). Be yourself and don’t hide your uniqueness, it’s what makes you attractive.
How does running a business in your current country of residence compare to running a business in other countries that you have lived in?
I didn’t run my own business when I lived in the US so it’s hard to say. For a business that is virtually based (no physical location) there probably isn’t too much of a difference.
Would you like to add anything?
Be sure to follow up and follow through. I see a lot of business owners spend time and energy networking and connecting with potential clients and then dropping the ball. Business is done between people and building relationships takes time and trust. Invest in your network and be a resource; give first. And above all, have fun. Your business should serve your life, not the other way around.
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