When I moved to Spain, one of the first things I noticed was how the expat women seemed to completely forget about themselves upon moving to a new country. Yes, they were now living in a country they loved, fulfilling a long-held dream long, and enjoying their new lifestyle and way of living. However, what they hadn’t thought about was how to build their women entrepreneur network to get support, share ideas, and find friendship. That’s why I started Costa Women, a community for women living in or thinking about relocating to Spain. It provides an essential connection point for women, along with space for you to join in and get real-life tips and advice about life in sunny Spain.
Finding your women entrepreneur network online
We live in an increasingly online world. The importance of connections, meeting real people in-person, and being able to voice concerns or experiment with business plans and exciting concepts over a coffee (or vino) has been lost. Before moving to Spain, I didn’t need to rely on the local community for my basic business needs. If I needed advice about where to promote my business or services, I would ask my friends and family. If I needed someone to create a website or help with our social media learning, I asked for advice from my business contacts. But leaving one’s home base and moving to another country means the support network you had is no longer close at hand, which can create both business and physical disconnection. If you’re a freelancer or entrepreneur in Spain, I’m sure you’ve experienced the same thing.
Teletrabajo and autonomos in Spain
Working from home is something I have done since 2000. In my early days of “teletrabajo”, the coworking space Regus received my post and took my phone calls. I would arrange to meet a work colleague once a month for a coffee and to catch up, but apart from that my only contact with the outside work world was through my computer. Since the physical workplace has traditionally been the space where you build your tribe, I was missing out on that. And in my experience, 90% of the business women who are part of the Costa Women network are solopreneurs and work for themselves. This means the physical ‘water cooler’ is no longer available as a place for shared connection, storytelling, and advice like it used to be.
If you’re an entrepreneur or freelancer in Spain, consider a coworking space to get that connection with the outside world. Today, coworking spaces provide not only a workspace but also the opportunity to be part of a community of business owners and workers. They are popping up everywhere, even in the smallest Spanish towns, and many offer training, extra learning opportunities, and even yoga!
The importance of co-working spaces in Spain
Co-working spaces offer a place of cultural connection, too. Culture isn’t just the language we use, but our behaviours as well. Living in Spain, you are now part of a new business culture and it’s key to understand how it works. Making new connections with your Spanish business neighbours will increase and enrich your tribal village. There is a lot to be said about building your ‘tribe’. Author Seth Godin says that in business, your tribe not only buy and use your products, they also spread the work and help grow your business.
Tips for launching your business in Spain
Maybe this is the first time you’ve launched a business. Maybe your previous working life was in the corporate world and you’ve never gone it alone before. This can bring about some challenges, especially if you have just arrived in Spain and don’t know the language or don’t have a network to call upon for advice and information. There are various ways you can find a support network: social media like Meetup, Eventbrite, and Facebook all offer excellent ways to meet other business owners in your area. It can be quite scary initially to attend a networking or business event. However, we have all been where you now are and, in my experience, you will be met with a friendly and supportive welcome.
Find friends and a women entrepreneur network through hobbies
Don’t dismiss your hobbies either. You will find like-minded people at the gym, art class, or reading group; you already have one common passion and goal! Use that goal to explore other connections. Voluntary organisations are always on the lookout for help, too. Your business experience and knowledge could very well give them the boost they need for their charity and a few hours a month can help you with your objectives as well as support theirs. Finally, join Costa Women and be part of a community of women entrepreneurs, where you can get tips and advice about entrepreneurship and life in Spain.