Live & Work Abroad as a Female Entrepreneur Pt. 2

*To catch up with part 1 of this series – head here to read on how to live and work abroad as a female entrepreneur part 1!

Now to all the juicy stuff I know y’all want to get the details on!


Prep and automate as much as possible

After creating and defining processes, which ones can be automated and built into systems? I mentioned it earlier, but if you’re taking your job on the road – it’s time to take into account time zones and currencies.

How can systems and automation save us time and keep our businesses running, even while we’re sleeping? Here are some processes that I automate and use systems for:

  • Meetings (through Book Me Like a Boss)
  • Lead captures (through Dubsado – I got you a 20% discount when signing up through my link!)
  • Automatic responders for Facebook messages
  • Automated invoices for current clients (also through Dubsado)
  • Social media scheduling (Planoly, Facebook Scheduler, Buffer)

The last thing we want while living abroad is to spend all of our time behind our laptop – right? If adventure calls – we must answer!

Systems make sure our businesses work FOR us, while we’re able to save time and enjoy life – one delicious wine and beautiful landscape at a time!

Banking & getting paid!

While working and living abroad seems like a dream – it also means keeping track of a lot more details. As I transitioned to a different time zone than many of my clients (sometimes having a 6-9 hour time difference), I also realized that I’m getting paid in different currencies.

Spain is part of the European Union, so I pay for everything in Euros. My clients, however, are mostly from the United States – so I get paid in dollars. Here’s the truth: If money is not your forte and accounting was already hard, banking and getting paid in other currencies makes it a whole lot more complicated.

Not to mention, what do you do about TAXES? There are sales taxes, VAT, income tax, social security tax, etc. What happens now? I’ll break down some simple details to keep track of and a few resources I use, below.

  • FIRST – my recommendation is to find an accountant who works with “digital nomads” or expats. They’ll be able to help you understand the tax systems and what to do about your finances. *Make sure to ask about where you’ll need to declare your taxes and pay them to!
  • SECOND – figure out how you will invoice people. For me, this means understanding where my clients are from. If they’re from the European Union, I bill in Euros. If they’re from the United States, I bill in dollars.
  • THIRD – how are you getting paid?! Where are the transfers and deposits going to?

*Again, please check with an accountant to see what to do in this situation, also take into account where your business is legally registered.

Female entrepreneur looking at a computer
Photo by Laura Quintero Photography

Unfortunately, I do not have all the answers to tax and invoicing questions, but I DO have resources for getting paid. You know, the important things! Below are some websites and apps that I use to keep track of my own finances, transferring money, and more.

*An important thing to keep in mind: I have multiple bank accounts. Some are based in the United States because I am originally from there and some are based in Spain, where I currently live.

These are some apps and websites I use:

  • Transferwise (my FAVORITE website to transfer money, without all of the horrible commission rates and a great value for the exchange rate)
  • Stripe
  • PayPal (US)
  • Mint (to keep track of what goes in and out)
  • Square

There are so many options for payment, now that online businesses are becoming increasingly more popular! It’s best to do your research to find which apps or websites are best for the country that you live in. If you do consider moving to another country more permanently, I do recommend opening a bank account there.

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Now that I have “officially” settled into my new home country and city, I’m learning how to adapt as a new business owner and expat. Who thought it would be a great idea to start a business and then move across the Atlantic Ocean? Me, it was I.

Who else thought that moving to a country where English is NOT the native language would be a great idea, while also building a business? Again, me, my idea.

I would not recommend doing what I did to anyone, because let me tell you, it is hard, and also rewarding in its own way. These past few months have been a HUGE learning curve. Here are some tips to make adapting and transitioning a little less rough and a bit more smooth. (You know, so you’re not crying at home and asking yourself wtf are you doing…)

Kitchen table with potted plants hanging
Photo by Brina Blum

Finding a community

Moving to a new place means loneliness creeps up and gnaws at you. To make the transition easier, try to find a community (or various communities) that you can connect with. In any large city, there are numerous groups to meet with people and find a common interest.

If you’re like me, the fierce diva that wants to work and live abroad, you love meeting people. If you’re also like me, shallow connections actually drain you – and you’re looking for more meaningful relationships and friendships. Totally normal. One thing that I consistently have to remind myself is this: RELATIONSHIPS TAKE TIME AND SO DO FRIENDSHIPS. Be patient with yourself.

There are some tools that I use to find online and in-person communities to connect with:

  • Local Facebook groups
  • Local meeting spots
  • Coworking spaces
  • Local events in the area
  • Instagram (really, that’s actually how I’ve found most of my friends)
  • Heading out into cafés and talking to people (this might be harder if there is a langauge barrier)
  • Participating in digital nomad programs (ie Job Trippin’, one that allows you to meet & network with other digital nomads AND travel to different parts of Latin America with them!)
  • Etc.

Finding a community is SO hard and to be honest, there are days where I still feel very alone in such a large and international city. Although I’ve found various communities, events, and meetups to join, most of the time, there is always a nagging feeling in my stomach that I still feel alone.

*An important tip: don’t be afraid to hang out with other expats, as long as your friends are not only expats! I was so scared to hang out with only English speaking expats because I didn’t want to be in an “expat bubble”, I wanted to integrate myself into the culture and make local friends. It takes time – I’m still working on it!

Enjoying life abroad

Well if you’re taking the plunge to move your life across any ocean into foreign and – *high five* because the adventure is about to start!

From trying to grow my business and adapting to life as an expat, I have learned that I need schedules, hard deadlines, and a little accountability in my life. Transitioning to a full-time business owner requires mindset work and developing structure into my life. How do you add structure to your life when you’re abroad AND working full-time on your business?

Things I’ve had to develop for myself to be able to enjoy my new home AND build my business:

  • Daily and weekly schedule
  • Places to leave the house and go to (coworking space, cafes, etc.)
  • Understand the processes I have and refine them as I work/live my life
  • Integrating “exploring” into my weekly schedule
  • Patience, lots of patience
  • Expat AND local community
  • Morning and nighttime routine
  • Include these tasks in my daily schedule: visibility, money-making, learning
  • Networking events once or twice a month (for entrepreneurs, biz owners, expats, creatives, etc. – inclusive of coffee chats)

Some days I get to cross all of these off my list. Other days, I think that I am totally doing this wrong! The structure gives me balance and motivation, the free-time gives me space to be creative and find inspiration. Try to test and see what works best for you! But, don’t spend all your time behind your laptop – you are in a new place, after all!

Cassandra from The Quirky Pineapple Studio in Spain
Córdoba, Spain

Cultural differences

Of course, when you move abroad, cultural differences are HUGE. Which can lead to culture shock. There will be days you feel sad, actually, there will be a lot of days you feel sad – totally normal.

Take into account the type of culture that you live in. What makes it unique, what are their values, what are their customs, etc? This is something I needed to consider when I decided that I wanted to try and break into the Spanish market and work with businesses based in Spain.

If you’d like to do the same in your new host country, some things to keep in mind are:

  • What is the buying culture?
  • What is the busienss culture? How do they run their businesses?
  • How does the culture value work and free-time?
  • Etc.

All of these factors add to cultural differences in running a business and working with international clients. I am still working on rewiring my brain to understand Spanish consumers and what they look for, what they want, and the value they place on certain aspects. How can you use your home culture to leverage the type of business you’re running abroad?

Cassandra of The Quirky Pineapple Studio working at a computer
Photo by Laura Quintero Photography

What I should have said from the beginning was to have patience and give yourself grace. It takes a lot of courage to pack up your life and move it anywhere, let alone another country! I’m learning that to live and work abroad takes a lot more tenacity than I expected, and every day I learn something new about my host country and myself.

But, you’re a fierce woman and your mission is to take on the world!

You want more out of life than what’s expected of you. You’re not going to take orders from others and heck no are you going to play into typical stereotypes! You’re kind, intelligent, bold, fierce, AND filled with adventure.

Cheers to you if you’re ready to take on working and living abroad – it’s time for the adventure!

What do you think? What else would you want to know about becoming a ‘digital nomad’ or location independent?

*This post includes some affiliate links and is sponsored! Any purchase you make through these links means I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you! Thank you for supporting The Quirky Pineapple Studio!

Enjoyed this post? You might like these, too:
Live & Work Abroad as a Female Entrepreneur Part 1
Work & Travel, Glamorous or a Pain in the Ass?
Letting Travel Guide My Creative Processes
Traveling While Asian and Sexual Fetishes

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Live AND work abroad? If this is on your bucket list of things to do - I walk you through the important details you need to cover first. -- The Quirky Pineapple Studio
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