And how referrals can help Female expat entrepreneurs living abroad
Adriana Meyer is the founder of the Expats & Entrepreneurs networking platform that connects female expat entrepreneurs from all over the world. She is also a business psychologist, coach, entrepreneur, and mother. After a lack of support in a foreign country forced her to decline a job opportunity, she started a small group that grew into a global online community platform: Expats & Entrepreneurs.
Via this platform, Adriana brings her cross-cultural experience, along with a charismatic and supportive style, to inspire and motivate women to think and act more positively. She believes each individual has the key to unlocking potential and maximising performance.
1- Can you tell our readers about your background?
I am a Business Psychologist and ICF Professional Certified Coach -Executive & Team Coach with over 20 years of experience ranging from the aviation industry to education & consulting.
I lived in 4 different countries Brazil, UAE, Portugal and Qatar enhancing my cultural awareness and passion for human interactions. My journey as an expat led me to develop a “Coaching Programme for Expatriates” within organisations helping my clients “Navigate New Territories” while making sense of their lives and career.
In 2019, I launched “Expats & Entrepreneurs” in Qatar – a networking platform for women in business to connect, collaborate and showcase their products and services globally.
I am also the Co-Founder of MindDetoxME Coaching in Qatar and a Board Member of the ICF Doha Chapter.
2- What inspired you to start Expats & Entrepreneurs?
From my own experience and from scientific research I have done with expats when I lived in Dubai (UAE) and in Portugal – generally, when we move abroad as female expats we tend to rely on our spouse’s job. That means that we are not the breadwinners. As expat women, we try to engage in an occupation that allows us to combine motherhood with our career.
That’s what I did when I moved to Qatar in 2019. I tried to go back to the workforce as I found a dream job in my area to work for a large organization. I successfully went through all the stages of the interview process. When I was offered the place, however, I had to back up and refuse to join as I did not have a network of support to care for my daughter while working.
So, I decided to continue my consulting business which I had started when I moved to Portugal. As I was going through my accreditation process as an ICF PCC Coach I had to record real coaching sessions. I met amazing expat female entrepreneurs who had built their career but had to leave them all behind and somehow lost their identity.
Expats & Entrepreneurs was born from my dream to create a safe space to support these expat women adjust and restart their lives in a new country.
3- Where is your business based?
Expats & Entrepreneurs was a closed group – A networking platform of support for expatriate women and entrepreneurs to get together once a month over a coffee morning to connect, align ideas and lift each other through coaching meetings to grow their mindsets and businesses.
As we are moving to the new normal, Expats & Entrepreneurs was forced to make some changes to their original format. Now, E&E is growing their initial group and creating a new concept for women from all over the world to join them online.
4- How did you start your business? What were the first steps you took?
With the challenges post COVID-19 I felt the need to adapt our original Expats & Entrepreneurs format. As we went on lockdowns and as entrepreneurs, we could not work on our traditional ways of doing business, with stores and services closing or being cancelled we had to learn how to navigate the online world.
So, in 2020 I reconnected with a friend entrepreneur that I met when I lived in Dubai a couple of years back and together we created the new concept of Expats & Entrepreneurs. The female networking platform that speaks your language. The first step we took was to organize a Global Forum to celebrate our first year and announce our new concept to our entrepreneur’s community.
Then, we considered which business model we would use. We asked ourselves key questions that helped us and might help every entrepreneur when considering opening a business. Such as:
– Does your business idea match the actual local market needs? This is crucial for you if you don’t have a business model yet.
– Do you have the necessary skills to transform this idea into a business plan and make it viable?
– Is it costly to start the kind of business you are thinking about?
– Are you going to be a sole entrepreneur?
– Where are you going to register the company?
– What kind of data protection are you going to use?
These are some of the practical things that are part of your journey if you navigate to entrepreneurship.
“A large majority of the companies with whom I correspond say that 80% of their transactions come from referrals, whether by former and current customers, as well as by colleagues and collaborators that they found precisely on their network.”
5- What Has Been The Most Effective Way Of Raising Awareness For Your Business?
As business owners, we all know how to recognise the value of being able to benefit from a strong network. As providers of high-quality products and services, a large majority of the companies with whom I correspond say that 80% of their transactions come from referrals, whether by former and current customers, as well as by colleagues and collaborators that they found precisely on their network.
This led me to believe in the power of collaboration, referrals and growing organically. That, undoubtedly, has been our most effective way of raising awareness to our networking platform.
6- What Have Been Your Biggest Challenges And How Did You Overcome Them?
The first challenge in my opinion is not knowing what business model you are going to offer. For this, finding the answer to the questions that I mentioned above have really helped me.
The second obstacle is not knowing anyone in the new country. Build a local network. And the fastest way of doing that is joining one that is already built. You can even start a network with the local mums from your kid’s school. But it would take longer, as they might not share the same business interests as you.
“Through entrepreneurship, I found a portable career that I could take with me wherever I would go next.”
7- What personal sacrifices have you made throughout your career?
This is a very good question, Damla and a reality that hits many of us who want to start a business abroad. As an expat woman and entrepreneur, I faced some challenges myself.
Every time I moved to a new country I had to learn and adapt to the local rules and culture. That included finding a new professional opportunity for me. In many cases, I was not able to take on my previous role. That was really frustrating.
Through entrepreneurship, I found a portable career that I could take with me wherever I would go next.
8- How do you stay focused?
The best way to stay focused for me is to carefully plan and set myself feasible and SMART goals. This is a term which we use in coaching to keep track of our achievements and measure success. Those small wins make us want to keep challenging ourselves and growing.
9- How do you differentiate your business from the competition?
From my own scientific research that has been published recently, when expat women move abroad to a new country they tend to face some challenges with a new language and cultural barriers.
Here at Expats & Entrepreneurs, we considered that as a real barrier when we were designing our business model. This is why we created the concept of language pods. Those are dedicated networking groups in different languages. This way we are creating the idea of being part of a bigger community where these women can do business and connect at this deep, humane level without feeling excluded by language barriers.
This is our greatest differential to our competitors in our international online networking community.
10- What has been your most effective marketing strategy to grow your business?
I wish I was part of a networking platform like Expats & Entrepreneurs before. Being part of these groups allow our expats and entrepreneurs to be part of a bigger community and feel supported all the way through entrepreneurship.
The benefits include meeting new people, sharing common interests, exchanging practical information like asking for a doctor’s reference, for instance, doing business and referring someone within your network.
11- What’s your best piece of advice for aspiring and new entrepreneurs?
Make deep reflections and ask yourself questions that might help you align your passion and skills with what you want to do. It all starts with having the mental clarity that you will have by simply answering those questions. That will give you a sense of where you are and where you want to go.
12- What’s the best work-related advice you’ve ever received?
We tend to spend too much trying to be someone else or thinking we are not as good as, or as experienced as. Be yourself and focus on what comes naturally to you. That might be your Superpower. Identify your strengths, what makes you unique and use that to outstand from the other professionals in the market.
13- How do you manage self-doubt?
When I feel that I am lacking confidence or self-doubting, I stop, do some mindfulness meditation and reconnect with my sources. This is a daily practice I incorporated into my life to help me challenge my limiting beliefs and my own saboteurs.
And above all, I use some compassion focus techniques and coaching tools that are very effective, which I share with my clients too.
14- What’s your favourite app, blog, and book? Why?
My favourite app is Trello as you can easily create, assign, monitor, update, and complete different tasks within your team. It’s a great way to make sure everyone is as productive and efficient as possible.
My favourite blog is Social Influence as it is a super actual platform with diverse topics dedicated to female entrepreneurship. (Thank you, Adriana 🙂 )
It helps us entrepreneurs with practical tips for our businesses to flourish.
My favourite book is: Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman. He talks about the two systems found in our minds, that can make or break our ability to move forward and succeed in life- the fast and emotional system, and the slow, more logical system that makes up our whole mind, breaking down the various effects of each system on our success, mentality, confidence, and teachability index.
15- What’s your favourite business tool or resource? Why?
Google Docs and Canva are some of the most effective tools I found as an entrepreneur. They are very user friendly and allow us to collaborate as a team.
Online platforms like Zoom, Google Teams, and Doodle have also become my favourite business tools as they let me connect with my clients and partners in real-time so I don’t miss a business connection while simultaneously keeping track of the time zones to avoid double bookings, for example.
16- Could you name a woman who’s inspired you the most?
I am inspired by some great women that made history and helped our humanity develop and grow, but to me a great influencer is Oprah Winfrey.
17- How do you balance work and life?
I take downtimes and plan some free time during the day so I can find my balance.
I also stick to a routine with time to start and finish work.
18- How do you unplug from work?
I practice physical activities, I walk in the park and go to the beach whenever possible.
19- What do you have planned for the next six months?
It is hard to plan nowadays. Therefore, I have some ideas and short-term plans drafted. But I learned to be agile and flexible.
We are implementing new trainings, masterclasses (non-members can also join) and our Casual Breakfast Club over the next 6 months.
20- How can our readers connect with you?
Facebook: Expats & Entrepreneurs-facebook