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HOW I REINVENTED MYSELF IN A NEW COUNTRY: THE DIFFICULT JOURNEY FROM AN UNHAPPY STAY-AT-HOME MOM TO A PROUD BUSINESS OWNER

Being proud of and enthusiastic about my profession has always been very important to me. I could never imagine doing a job just to earn a salary, unless in emergencies. And I could never imagine a life without a profession. After moving to Switzerland, for the first time I faced a difficult reality: I realized that finding my dream job was very hard, if not impossible. Despite a good CV, very serious job hunting and preparation of interviews, the best positions always went to someone else. If you have been there, you probably know how hard this is to digest, how badly this can affect your self-esteem.

Here I was: a highly educated, full time, unhappy stay-at-home mom. I wished I could enjoy it, but being “only” a mom and a wife wasn’t enough for me. Not at all. I started to compare my situation with that of other women, who, like me, had come to Switzerland after building their profession in Italy, in most cases following their partners. What did I find out? Most people I knew from my country had turn themselves into Italian teachers, although in the majority of cases their background had nothing to do with teaching. Some had accepted part-time jobs in their districts or villages, such as looking after pupils during lunch break. Was teaching Italian or looking after children their dream job? I have never asked them, but I seriously doubt it. Back in Italy, they were lawyers, journalists, and sport trainers. Accepting a job below my qualifications or something that I wasn’t interested in was probably better than doing nothing, but I knew that it would have not made me happy in the long run. Other friends were “enjoying life”, as they put it, but I knew I would never be able to enjoy life without a professional role in the society.

What to do? I knew the answer, but it was too scary to say it loud: I should have started an independent activity, a “business”.

A business? My mom was a doctor, my dad a university professor, nobody in my enlarged family or among my closest friends was an entrepreneur. I had definitely not inherited an entrepreneurial mindset and nobody close to me could teach me. I had studied economics, but none of the exams I passed seemed useful when it came to starting my own business. Finally, here was the main question: WHAT kind of business was I supposed to start? I felt I had no special talent or passion. I had a few ideas, but I wasn’t 100% convinced by any of them. To summarize, I felt I knew too little about business to embark in such an adventure…

… until, after 3 years of feeling inadequate and insecure, I finally did it. I felt I had no choice: either being a frustrated woman (and wife, and mommy) for the rest of my life, or just do it and see. So, I analyzed the two or three best ideas I had, I picked the one that I felt was particularly “right for me”, I evaluated its business potential, and I started implementing it. Was it easy? No, it wasn’t and it still isn’t. Was it worth it? Definitely. The best person to ask is my husband, who still remembers how nervous and angry I often was until just a few years ago. Now, when he comes home, he rarely finds a good dinner ready, but at least he finds a smiling wife (well, not always, but definitely more often than before;-). You could also ask my children, although I really hope that they forgot about the yelling mom I was before.

What was my business idea? I thought: when you have a problem and you cannot find a solution, other people may have the same problem and may be looking for a solution. Hence, providing a solution to that problem is likely to be a good business idea. My problem had been the lack of a community to help me generate and discuss my business ideas and the lack of a “guide”, who could support me in learning the basics about starting a business from scratch. So, this is what I do: I created a community called “Our Swiss Business”, I organize brainstorming events where participants help each other generate, evaluate and implement business ideas, and I guide people in the process of starting a business from scratch, through different channels (live videos, online courses, group video calls, 1-1 coaching). Since I started my business, I have learnt so many valuable lessons that I can easily teach you how to avoid the most common mistakes and how to make a plan for your business, which will make you feel like a train on a track, rather than a boat in the middle of the ocean.

 One of the first things that I experienced as a business owner was that most of the fears that had been holding me back for years quickly dissolved after I started. Recently, I decided to ask other women about the reasons why they are not starting a business, if this is something that they feel could make them happier. I included this question in a survey about six months ago. I was not surprised by the results: most of the obstacles they see are the same that I saw before starting. Hence, I decided to take action, to analyze these fears and explain how to deal with them, based on my own experience and on what I learnt from other women in these last years.

Here is the result of my efforts: a checklist, a user-friendly guide to take you from feeling afraid and insecure to finding the courage to start. I decided to give it to you for free, because I hate seeing so many high potential women wasting their best years feeling sad and frustrated, when they could be happy business owners.

⇒Request your free copy!

Yours,

Gretel