TELL ME ABOUT YOUR CURRENT BUSINESS. WHAT ARE YOU DOING EXACTLY?
I am a freelance online marketing consultant who recently expanded to opening my own consultancy. I help business owners with improving their online marketing outreach and create custom strategies for each individual business. Businesses can be any size from a startup to a major corporation. There is no minimum. I help business owners to understand online marketing so that they can make more informed decisions about finances surrounding their business. Furthermore, I also help with HR, legal & tax issues, in particular for cross-border marketing within Europe, but can also be on a global scale. I specialize within the travel, medical and import/export industries but would be glad to help anyone in need.
HOW DID YOU COME UP WITH YOUR BUSINESS IDEA?
As a US expat, the first freelance job offer I found was as a content writer and translator at an E-Commerce company because I was a native English speaker who learned German. I spent the next year working closely with the German Marketing Manager and learning all the details about online marketing and began shortly thereafter working with my own freelance clients. I realized over time that my knowledge was quite expansive and was getting continual good feedback from my clients. So, I realized that I wanted to try to expand my business into opening my own consultancy so that I could take on more clients and broaden my capabilities, as well as stabilize my income a bit more. Overall, it was really an accident. Life is funny like that!
WHAT WERE YOU DOING BEFORE THIS, AND IS THIS YOUR FIRST BUSINESS?
Before I moved to Germany, I actually wanted to get my master’s in Anthropology and work in international marketing. So, my idea was always to work in marketing, but after I had so much success in freelancing, I decided to stick with that instead of doing my master’s degree. And furthermore, unfortunately, Germans don’t view Anthropology the same as in the US, so I would’ve needed to get an MBA instead, a difficult path considering my previous studies. This is my first business, but I’m glad I’ve made this choice.
WHAT SPECIFIC ADVICE WOULD YOU HAVE FOR YOUNG WOMEN WHO WOULD LIKE TO BECOME AN ENTREPRENEUR?
Use the skills you have and put them to use already. Don’t spend so much time learning a bazillion things in-depth. Your best experience will come from what you are paid to do and you probably already know a lot more than you think. So, find suitable clients that are willing to pay you for the skills you already have, then while you are being paid, use that as an opportunity to learn more. Especially in my industry, the only thing that I learned from the university that has been helpful in my intercultural communication skills. Other than that, everything I have learned has been learning by doing at work.
MY GREATEST OBSTACLE AND HOW DID YOU DEALT WITH IT:
I think my biggest obstacle is and always will be myself. The saying that “I am not good enough” and “I’m not doing enough.” I struggle with these statements on a daily basis, especially because I have an online business that could technically be worked on all the time and I’m a bit of a perfectionist. I never want to seem like I’m not trying my best. However, I try to always remind myself to not try to accomplish everything right at the moment, but make a weekly plan with what I can accomplish now. And I would stress to make it a realistic plan! A good friend once told me to only have 5 things on a to-do list per day. Before this, I was probably having over 20 per day, leading me to have what I call “anxiety paralysis” because it just felt like so much do to that I didn’t even want to start. But her advice helped me to reorganize and prioritize, so I was able to accomplish more with a 5 point to do list then a 20 point one. Celebrate the small steps and one day they will become big steps.
MY PROUDEST ACCOMPLISHMENT:
I think just, in general, the creation of my new life in Germany after leaving the US and the fact that I’ve been able to sustain myself completely on my own. Getting a visa here was extremely difficult in the beginning, along with being here alone and trying to make friends, as well as learning a foreign language. I think if someone had told me beforehand how much work it would be to move and live here, I probably would’ve changed my mind about doing it. Now though I am very glad that I stuck it out. I know the system so from now it will always be easier.
HOW I BLEND LIFE AND WORK TO CREATE THE LIFE I WANT:
I am an extremely independent person. I don’t like to work regular hours and I also don’t like someone who decides things for me in my career and personal life. That’s why I never really thought I would fit working within a company. I work my best when I am able to work under the conditions I make for myself, so this seems to be the type of job I want so far. Furthermore, I love being able to have a flexible schedule to run errands when I need and take time off when I want. I probably take more time off than the average employee, but I make up for it through my work schedule.
I AM INSPIRED BY:
Of course, women like Michelle Obama and Oprah will always be super inspiring to me. But one of my biggest inspirations actually comes from a company, that being Netflix. Why? Because they are in the technology industry, but they started out as just a DVD rental company. Now they have developed into a multi-faceted and highly successful international streaming platform. As someone in the technology industry, I never want my skills to be made redundant or irrelevant. Netflix is inspiring to me because they weren’t afraid to think out of the box and used their skills to maintain a relevant and successful company while still using the original brand.
WHY I CHOSE THIS CAREER:
Again, I am an extremely independent person who likes to live life on my terms. Also, I like challenging myself and I feel that online marketing is something that I’m good at. When I help improve someone’s business it is truly one of the best feelings being paid to do what I love.
HOW I PREPARE FOR SUCCESS:
Oh, this is a tough one to answer haha. I don’t know if I am really prepared for success haha. I just try my best every day and so far that has been enough for me to remain “successful.”
DID YOU WRITE A BUSINESS PLAN? WAS IT AN EFFECTIVE TOOL FOR YOU?
Actually no and I don’t think it would be. Because I am in technology, a constantly changing industry, I’m not even sure it would be possible to create a business plan. How I go about things is changing every week, and I am always trying to be more efficient and work in a better manner not only for clients but also for my work. Any business plan I would write would just change in a couple of days, so I don’t find a point to this.
ARE THERE SPECIFIC ADVANTAGES, DISADVANTAGES TO BEING A WOMEN BUSINESS OWNER?
The disadvantage comes most often through networking and payment. The freelancer industry has been well-known for paying men twice the salary while women do twice the work. It has and still is a struggle to get the pay rates that I know I deserve. Furthermore, I often find in networking that I prefer to speak to women. Men often use these conversations as an opportunity to try something on with me and I really hate this, because it is so highly disrespectful.
But on the other hand, the advantage is that the disadvantage has given me more motivation. If everything came to me easily, I wouldn’t be so proud of how far I’ve come. This motivation keeps me churning 24/7 and gives me the instinct to make the right decisions. Being the underdog means that success just feels that much more amazing and gives me self-confidence.
MY FAVOURITE BUSINESS TOOL IS…
My brain. There is no one technology that is best. As an online marketing consultant, of course, I am using many many types of technology per day. Nevertheless, the thing that always gives me the more innovative and effective ideas still comes from my brain haha!
THE BEST PIECE OF ADVICE I HAVE EVER BEEN GIVEN IS…
Not to measure my success by comparing myself to others, but rather compare myself success to where I started. There are people who started at level 9, so of course, getting to level 10 for them is going to be super easy. I had an extremely rough childhood, I moved to Germany completely by myself 3 years ago and provided for myself without financial support from my family enough to expand to the company and without a master’s degree. When looking at where I began, there is no doubt that I can be proud of myself for the things I’ve accomplished and I will always cherish this advice.