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21 Lessons from an Accidental Entrepreneur

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21 Lessons from an Accidental Entrepreneur
On May 17, 2011 I accidentally became an entrepreneur. Oops.
But this wasn’t a mistake like forgetting to turn in the rough draft of my English paper or leaving the milk on the counter.
No. This was a big deal.
I was sitting on a plane to Paris, one-way ticket in hand when it hit me: “I am incapable of working for someone else. What the hell am I going to do?”
Oops indeed.

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    When I arrived in France, I scrambled to figure it out. I did everything in my power to avoid the world of vacation days and 401ks. And though it was rough, I did manage to collect enough money to afford the occasional bottle of champagne and as much goat cheese as my heart desired.
    Fast forward a few months to October 2012. In the past year and a half, I’ve established both an online tutoring and copywriting business and a successful lifestyle blog. I’m no longer in France, but am now capable of working for myself and only myself. I’ve even put my entrepreneurial plans into something I call Project Moolah: My plan to earn $2,000 a month by August 2013.
    But it’s been a bumpy ride. So, I thought I’d help you out by giving you a list of the 21 lessons I’ve learned on the road of accidental entrepreneurship:
    1. Give yourself a pep talk in the morning. Every morning. In the mirror.
    2. Optimize your best hours. Often, this is in the morning. (See above tip for motivation).
    3. Take care of yourself! Eat your veggies :)
    4. Work smart, not hard.
    5. Friends are either lifting you up or bringing you down. Nurture the former and stop worrying about the latter.
    6. You do not have to do everything. Identify your strengths and find other people to do the rest.
    7. Stick to a routine. Eliminate decisions. I hear this is what Obama does, too :)
    8. Track your time.
    9. Invest in learning. Invest in anything that will help you to develop your skills or teach you how to turn them into a business.
    10. The world is not your competition. We’re all in this life thing together.
    11. People are busy. Respect their time. Don’t expect them to remember anything if you don’t take time to remind them.
    12. NEVER use marriage or children as an excuse for not going after your dreams.
    13. Look outside of your industry for inspiration.
    14. Start before you’re ready.
    15. Don’t wait until your parents die to start living your truth. (May sound shocking, but an alarming number of people do this).
    16. People will judge, critique, and advise you. You don’t have to listen.
    17. On that note – only take advice from people whom you admire. Don’t take nutrition advice from your obese uncle or happiness advice from your drama-ridden best friend.
    18. Be. Confident.
    19. People only really care about what’s in it for them. Make someone else feel like gold and you can’t go wrong.
    20. Jump! The parachute might not appear, but you aren’t going to die. In fact, you’re going to learn more than you ever could have by reading about it.
    21. Don’t forget why you’re doing what you’re doing. Always start with why.

    In the comments: What lessons would you add to the list?

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    Featured photo credit: business person holding a briefcase via Shutterstock and inline photo by Debs via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

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    Last Updated on January 13, 2022

    15 Best Places for Expats to Live (And Why)

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    15 Best Places for Expats to Live (And Why)

    Many of us dream of living abroad but can often be scared to make such a big change to our routine lifestyles and leave our home countries behind. Daunting as it may be, living abroad can be a rewarding and fulfilling endeavor and can give you the quality of life you have been looking for.

    From a warmer climate to a more easy going way of life, there are many foreign countries favored by expats who stay for a long time – and sometimes forever. Taking into consideration livings standards, opportunities and social aspects, here are our top 15 best places to live as an expat and why.

    1. Thailand

    A hot spot for expats, the ‘land of smiles’ as it’s commonly known offers expats a tropical climate, a huge array of sandy beaches and islands to explore, and a rich culture. The cost of living in Thailand is extremely low, and when combined with the friendly tax system means that disposable income can be very high.

    Bangkok, Thailand’s capital city, offers expats great employment opportunities.

    2. Switzerland

    Another popular destination for expats, Switzerland offers exciting employment packages and a high standard of living. It’s great for those who love the outdoors, as there are many beautiful lakes, mountains to hike in and skiing in the winter. The school standards for expats are also excellent, making it appealing for those with children. English is also widely spoken so day-to-day living can be stress free.

    Unemployment in Switzerland is low and expats moving here don’t need to worry too much about finding a job before they arrive.

    3. Australia

    Many foreigners who visit Australia don’t want to leave as it offers a great quality of life, beautiful beaches and a warm climate. Making friends in Australia is easy too, due to the lack of language barrier and the large number of expats who already live here. Australia is a great place to move to if you have children because of its wide range of schooling possibilities and recreational outdoor activities.

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    Low population levels and high quality of life are two of the main reasons expats choose Australia as a place to live.

    4. Singapore

    Expats in Singapore can benefit from generous financial packages, great career opportunities and low tax rates. Although education is expensive here, it is rated one of the top places for raising children abroad due to the quality of the education system and the array of schools.

    Public transport such as buses and MRT (Mass Rapid Transit) are cheap and very reliable in Singapore.

    5. South Korea

    South Korea offers expats a unique range of opportunities and a very different way of living. Jobs for expats are easy to find and usually very well paid, with apartments provided by the employer on the most part making living costs even lower. There are also many tight-knit expat communities in South Korea, making it easy to socialize and meet new friends. The excellent education system is also a pro for families wanting to move to this culture-rich country.

    South Korea has a cheap public healthcare system and offers great medical care, with most doctors speaking English.

    6. New Zealand

    New Zealand is constantly on the lookout for skilled workers to expedite to the country – especially those under the age of 30 – and skilled migrants can be granted a stay for up to five years. It offers a good climate and although income levels can be lower than other countries, quality of life is high, with its awe-inspiring scenery, low crime rate and state sponsored healthcare.

    New Zealand is great for those looking for a laid back and active outdoors lifestyle.

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    7. Canada

    Its national healthcare system, friendly locals and very high quality of life are just a few of the reason expats choose Canada as a place to live. It’s very welcoming to expats and skills shortages encourage foreigners to move here in order for the country to grow economically. It’s easy for expats to feel comfortable quickly in Canada due to its multicultural environment.

    Canada was largely unaffected by the economic crisis, making it a very popular country for expats.

    8. Qatar

    Qatar is becoming increasingly popular among expats with an estimated 500 new arrivals every day. The salaries are generous and are tax free too, making disposable income very high. Car and housing allowances are part of many remuneration packages, and education for your children and airfares are often included.

    The cost of living is lower in Qatar than in other UAE countries but salaries can still be just as generous.

    9. Hong Kong

    Where east truly meets the west, this bustling island has a population of over seven million people. If you’re looking for a fast-paced environment and an active nightlife, Hong Kong is definitely the place to be. Benefits for expats include its advanced healthcare system and elevated standards of schooling for children, along with great employment opportunities. The cost of living in Hong Kong can be high, so trying to negotiate a housing allowance with your employer can be beneficial.

    Hong Kong is great for those looking for high incomes and career advancement.

    10. Japan

    As an expat destination, Japan offers a rich culture and a chance to experience a very different day-to-day life. Currently around two million expats live in Japan, and in the larger cities such as Tokyo a large portion of the population speaks English. English speakers are also in demand and there are a large number of opportunities for language teachers, especially in the capital.

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    Japan offers a high standard of living for expats and a good education system for those with children.

    11. Spain

    Spain is a very popular destination for expats due to the high temperatures and year-round sunshine. EU residents don’t require a visa to work here, meaning the move can be a lot easier. Skilled foreign workers also continue to be in demand with jobs such as engineering, customer service, skilled trades and language teachers widely available.

    A huge 14% of Spain’s population are expats from a variety of foreign countries.

    12. Dubai

    Two of the main attractions of moving to Dubai are the tax-free salaries and the warm climate. Some of the most popular jobs for expats are in construction, banking, oil and tourism. You can also enjoy a busy social life in Dubai as the expat community is thriving. Although it can be an expensive country, the tax-free salary means you experience a higher quality of life than in other countries.

    You will need a work permit, residence visa and an Emirates ID card to live in Dubai as an expat.

    13. Germany

    Germany is one of Europe’s most populous countries, with around 82.4 million people. It’s a lively and inexpensive country to live in as an expat, and if you have children the education system is great and healthcare is to a high standard. An estimated 250,000 expats live in Germany currently, with the numbers rising every year.

    If you are already an EU citizen, you don’t need a visa to live and work in Germany.

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    14. The Netherlands

    The Netherlands is a great place for expats who love the outdoors. Cycling is one of the main modes of transport and looking after the environment is widely recognized. There are a lot of English speakers in the Netherlands too, but learning the language can work to your advantage and make day-to-day life that little bit easier. Skilled expats can also benefit from a tax-free allowance equivalent to 30% if they meet the correct criteria.

    It is often more important to be able to speak fluent English than to speak Dutch when looking for employment in the Netherlands.

    15. China

    China offers expats great employment opportunities with little competition. Those who embrace the culture and decide they want to live in China long term can see a host of employment opportunities as its economy is growing rapidly every year. Economists predict it will overtake the US as the world’s largest economy by 2018. China also offer expats low living costs and high disposable incomes, which is why many look to live here for a higher quality of life.

    Shanghai and Beijing are the most popular destinations for expats who live in China.

    Featured photo credit: Saulo Mohana via unsplash.com

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