Ever since Nicole can remember, she has taken an interest in other countries and cultures. While studying International Communications at university, she seized any available opportunity to pursue internships or assignment abroad. When she met her husband, who would (because of the nature of his work) be moving to a different country every three years, this might sound terrifying or unappealing for some people, but it was ideal for Nicole!
Since leaving university, Nicole has lived in Argentina, Indonesia, Abu Dhabi and France, before most recently moving to Aberdeenshire in Scotland.
We invited Nicole to tell us whether living in so many different locations is as much fun as it sounds and how she can run a company when leading a nomadic existence.
Let’s see what Nicole has to say!
Nicole began her expat life when she moved to Buenos Aires, Argentina at the age of 26. She was eager to expand her career in international communications while immersing herself in the new culture and language of the people around her. It wasn’t long before she got a job at a company that developed digital communication tools. She recalls, “I had always done designs or created small websites for friends and acquaintances, so I was easily turn my hobby into my work.”
Whilst in Buenos Aires, Nicole decided to start her own online business, Globemrk Digital Studio. This would allow her to work continuously, no matter where in the world she might live next. She hired three permanent freelancing teams for Globemrk and her newly-founded company offered website designs, development and internet marketing to for an attractive price.
“We had a strategic marketing vision right from the start, and so we came up with a plan to improve the overall company offerings. We had started off building simple websites consisting of just a few pages, but now our professional team made it possible to expand our services, including setting up complex e-commerce platforms! My freelancers are based in various countries. Thanks to their involvement, my projects can always move forward uninterrupted, even if I’m busy with yet another move. You could say that mine is the life of a digital nomad!”
Working and doing business abroad
“Something to keep in mind when moving abroad is not to pin all your hopes on big expectations that are too specific – you will only be met with disappointment. If you start out expecting to find a challenging job, experience idyllic scenery or go on crazy adventures, chances are that it won’t happen. I have seen many people go abroad with dreams like these and then return to the Netherlands within a year.
However, if you keep an open mind and just ‘go with the flow’, embracing everything that you find fun or interesting, you can build a very nice life just about anywhere. I am fortunate enough to have that kind of open attitude naturally, which has allowed me to experience the most amazing things. Above all though, be true to yourself and don’t deviate too far from who you really are. That way you can reap the benefits and get the most out of life no matter where you are!”
What’s more, life will never be boring! When you live in another country, you learn so much from it: the people, the culture, the customs, their way of thinking – it can all be incredibly inspiring. Meeting new people – and hearing their stories – is a phenomenal experience.
Living abroad can change your general perspective as well. For instance, the Dutch are often inclined to think and work as efficiently as possible, but is this always the best and most enjoyable way to live your life? This is a question I often think about … and travelling has definitely given me fresh insights.”
An open mind and a good dollop of flexibility
Growing up, Nicole was part of an entrepreneurial family who taught her about the opportunities and the challenges of being a business owner.
“My grandfather, parents, sister and brother-in-law are all entrepreneurs! They have provided me with a good entrepreneurial foundation. Taking initiative, being focused and dedicated, and having business acumen and perseverance were just some of the topics frequently discussed at the dinner table. My parents also showed me that it is possible to balance being a business owner and taking care of your family as, despite their busy entrepreneurial life, I had a fantastic childhood.”
“I have always gone through life with an open mind; I am not the sort of person who maps out a detailed route that I will stick to for the next five years. I prefer to be guided by new ideas, experiences, and people I meet along the way. Being flexible allows me to adapt quickly to new environments or challenges. I know that I am happy to continue with my business and I love helping other ambitious entrepreneurs to pursue their goals by using the knowledge I have gained of our industry – if I can build them a great website and make sure their SEO is optimised, they will soon see tangible results, such as increased sales, more visitors becoming customers. And that makes me feel good!”
Patience is a virtue
“In addition to an open mind, you also need resilience and a good helping of perseverance. A lot of preparation is required – for both family and company, whenever we move. Due to the bureaucratic nature of different countries, it can take a lot of effort to get through all the red tape and get some things done. There are generally no ‘international’ solutions for administrative matters, and the logistical hassle associated with moving from country to country can sometimes be frustrating.”
“However, I am convinced that if you believe in your product or service, you can make your dream work anywhere. It is important to maintain a clear goal and not give up. Once you get through the short-lived frustrations of change, you will have extra time to explore your new surroundings and it really does feel like an extended vacation!”
The Covid crisis
“Partly due to the global pandemic (when everyone suddenly wanted to be online), my company has grown rapidly, so I felt it was time for a more professional approach. We rebranded and invested in some top-of-the-range software. The team and I are now actively engaged in developing a clear business and marketing plan.”
“In this very interesting phase of my business, I am greatly inspired and motivated by Donald Miller, the author of Storybrand and owner of a large marketing company. By taking on board the advice of various experts in the field of business growth, I have a clear focus and can manage my company in a structured way.
Since I don’t have a huge amount of time to read books, I find audiobooks and podcasts ideal! I listen to a lot of books while cooking, driving or exercising. That way, I am extra-productive!”
“While I haven’t experienced any major failures (yet), I do have an embarrassing (and funny) story. During an appointment with a potential French client, I wanted to express how excited I was to start the assignment. “Je suis excite!” I declared. He immediately burst out laughing and I went quite red in the face! I had just told him that he got me excited and what I should have said instead was “J’ai hâte”! Perhaps I should have worked a little harder on my command of French!”
“To be honest, though, I like these kinds of experiences. I’ve always believed that you must speak the local language right away when you live there, mistakes and all! It is ultimately the only way to learn a language well. Wherever we live, I now approach anyone, any group, in any language. These kinds of experiences only make you stronger and are an effective way to learn!’
Tips and tricks
“Don’t wait until you know a country (or a language!) completely before pursuing your dreams. Dare to take a leap and allow yourself to be vulnerable. Don’t be afraid of anything. Participate in everything that interests you and don’t miss a single chance. That one chance just might change your whole life for the better.”
As the saying goes, “It’s better to regret what you have done than what you haven’t.”