The freedom, having control of your time and your decisions. Taking care of our mental health as expat entrepreneurs is pivotal to succeed.
Being a business owner is the dream of many expats. It’s filled with beautiful highlights, but also with challenges and obstacles.
Mental Health as Expat Entrepreneurs
All my clients are expats. Many of them are struggling to find a job and are thinking of starting the journey as entrepreneurs. Some of them had no alternative but to dare to start their own business. And all my entrepreneur clients know the challenges.
I’m an online psychologist, not a business coach or a marketing expert. However, if you are an expat and an entrepreneur (or thinking of becoming one), I can give you 5 crucial ideas to bear in mind for your mental health and thrive and own your role as an entrepreneur.
Reminder: you are on your own now; you depend on yourself. If you aren’t feeling grounded and strong enough to face the different challenges that entrepreneurial life might bring, your business cannot function in the long run. Or at least not in an optimal way.
The tip main tip I can give you is to take care of your mental health and prioritize your peace of mind and free time!
My journey as an entrepreneur being an expat.
I’m an entrepreneur, and I decided to be one because that was the only way I saw to keep doing what I love.
I want to be completely honest with you: I never wanted to be an entrepreneur. I saw many members of my family struggling as business owners, working 24/7, barely making ends meet… so I thought to myself: “I’ll never do that.”
Yes, I know!
A couple of years ago, I was facing a difficult crossroad, and I had to choose: the “security” of staying as an employee and doing something I didn’t enjoy, or the adventure of entrepreneurship doing something I love. With a stomachache and full of fear, I chose the latter.
And although now I don’t regret it and seeing the results of my hard work (and persistence), it wasn’t easy.
I want to give you these things to bear in mind if you are transitioning (or thinking about it) to entrepreneurship, being an expat and living abroad so that you can preserve and take care of your mental health and thrive in your role as a business owner.
5 ideas to Protect our Mental Health as Expat Entrepreneurs
1.- Have your why clear; this is your fuel to keep going
Why are you an entrepreneur (or want to become one)?
Why did you decide to change the comfort of being an employee to this adventure and sometimes uncertainty of an entrepreneur’s life?
As expats, sometimes no other choice is given to us. We can work on something, but that “something” is not what we love or are passionate about.
Yet, whatever the reason, that’s your reason, your fuel, your motivator.
Have it near you, like a post-it, a photo, whatever reminder you choose, because you’ll need to go back over and over again for this reason.
To cope with uncertainties, imminent failure and when things are not going the way that you’re expecting.
That why is going to help you move forward, consistent and reliable to yourself.
2.- Manage your expectations; there is no overnight success.
I can speak for myself and from my clients that went through this transition as well.
We do it mostly because we wanted flexibility and independence and not having a boss who controls everything.
That’s a massive plus of entrepreneurship.
Yet, it is a slow process.
And although it can happen, we rarely see overnight successes.
It doesn’t work like this: It requires patience, time and perseverance.
When we make this shift and get into entrepreneurship, we might have these expectations.
Of freedom, working less and manage our time as we want, make money.
That’s going to happen eventually, but the expectation of having it all very fast is… utopian.
Ground your expectations.
Make a list of the things that you expect from being an entrepreneur.
Divide them as little goals, break them into smaller goals. Manageable and reasonable goals.
And combine it with patience and perseverance.
3.- Find a community for support and accountability.
Being a solo entrepreneur means to be “solo,” alone, many times through our journey.
And as expats, oh my, do we know about feeling lonely!
That is why finding a community of like-minded people to help you when you have doubts and celebrate with you when you succeed is pivotal if you are an expat business owner.
Find people (not only your friends, family or partner), but a community having your back and support you when you need it.
Also, for accountability.
When we feel motivated and with a lot of energy, we can accomplish many things in one day.
But when our energy is low, or we feel frustrated and don’t know how to move forward, it is a perfect way to get out of stagnation.
An accountability buddy or community, someone that can be your sparring and remind you of your priorities and goals.
4.- Seek help from an expert.
We are intelligent, capable, have a lot of experience.
We think to ourselves, “ok, it’s going to be difficult, but I can handle it; I have dealt with many things in my life; I speak at least two languages, I’ve been through relocation, how can I not manage to be an entrepreneur.”
Little did I know that it is indeed challenging, and often it was too much for me.
I felt overwhelmed, didn’t know how to move forward, what to prioritize and where to put my focus on.
And I was also dealing with the challenges of living abroad.
That’s why I asked for help, in my case, from a psychologist.
This is my advice to you: to seek help from a business coach, a mentor, a coach, and of course, a psychologist/counselor. Whatever you need depending on where you are on your journey.
I’m not saying that you are not able to do it all by yourself. Yet, it will be so much easier on yourself if you seek help and guidance from experts.
The support from someone who already went through it and now is thriving and knows how to help you.
Hopefully, someone who knows about your branch, about your specialty about your clients.
5.- Dare to change, pivot, tweak, be flexible. Follow your dream, but allow yourself to change your mind!
You have an idea. That doesn’t mean you can’t change if something is not working the way you planned, hoped or prepared.
If you are not reaching enough clients or not having the visibility that you want to have.
Whatever reason you are not achieving the goals that you want to achieve: dare to change. Dare to think outside the box.
Flexibility is essential in the life of an entrepreneur.
If it didn’t work the way you wanted to or with the things you had in mind, change it. Try different ways.
With the help of your community, or a coach or a mentor.
Allow yourself to make mistakes. If it doesn’t work, go and try again.
Dare to reinvent yourself, dare to dig deep within you and find the things you can do that you feel comfortable with and have fun.
Dare to change!
Struggling with mental health as an expat entrepreneur? Need support on coping with expat life’s challenges?
Don’t worry; I’m here to support you. You have all of the tools within to get through any challenges life abroad can bring. Let’s uncovered them together.
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Still not sure about making the next move? Read the testimonials of my clients living the life abroad they want!
By your side,
Gabriela Encina is an online psychologist specialized in expat women and supports them with the guidance and tools they need to feel confident, make the best decisions for their lives, build and maintain meaningful relationships and prioritize their well-being.
Her approach is practical, solution-oriented and focused on the present.
Gabriela offers counseling to expat women in Spanish, English and German.