Is Your Business Portable? - Part 2
We asked expat business owners in Shanghai if they had been able to successfully keep the business they created in China once they relocated to another country. Laimei Yeung from shares her experience.
I moved to Rome, Italy in 2017 after living in China for 13 years. With a background in Business Development, Marketing, Nutrition and most recently having established myself as a certified Hypnotherapist, I wanted to connect to new people who worked in the Health and Wellness industry.
Through our network of restaurants, Bella Napoli in Shanghai owned by my partner and I, and through other practitioners whom I collaborate with in China, I managed to get introductions to people in Rome before I moved. However these new contacts didn’t seem very keen on collaborating and suggested that I work in Marketing instead of Therapy. One of my big talents is to be stubborn and not to accept no for an answer. So when I did move to Rome, I kept on searching for more contacts and researching how I could build my Hypnotherapy business in Rome by looking at what other people in my field were doing. At the same time I needed to find out which licenses and certificates I needed to work as a Therapist in Rome. This was the challenging part, because the Italian law on Mental Health and Therapy has lots of restrictions. In the end I needed to change my title to Coach, but could do the same work that I did in China.
Because it took me more than 1.5 years to build up my network in Italy, join some Roman business associations, collaborate with local practitioners and get my license and insurance in place, I needed to be adaptable and so I decided to work with Italian clients who wanted to market themselves better and improve their visibility. I truly love helping people to use their voice, feel safe when putting themselves out there and connecting to other people.
During this time I was also actively continuing my marketing efforts in China with my Hypnotherapy business by engaging in WeChat groups and posting weekly blogs and newsletters. This enabled me to keep my Chinese business going and to start attracting online clients from China, whereas previously they were all face-to-face.
However I didn’t have enough online clients to make it a sustainable business so I had to attract new clients in Italy. Another challenge was the worldwide coverage of my insurance as a hypnotherapist. Worldwide coverage is extremely expensive so I needed to raise my fees substantially, though my clients didn’t seem to mind. Another challenge was that I craved physical contact with clients that I wasn’t getting from an online business. I managed to get around this by being more involved in organizations in Rome.
After 18 months I did move back to China and my business picked up right away thanks to the efforts I had put towards continuing to market my business and switching to an online model. When I retuned to China my agenda was full after 4 months. I was able to use the experience I had gained in Italy to help me build up my resilience, to keep on fine tuning, to connect and learn from local practitioners and to understand the local market.
Now with an online business model my clients can come from anywhere in the world and practitioners from Rome do still refer people to me. When I relocated back to China I made the decision to open my hypnotherapy studio in Shanghai so that I could also work with clients face to face again. But now with Covid-19 I’ve had to put this part of the business on hold and focus on the online side.
The advice I would give to business owners who might need to relocate to another country is to first look at the practical issues like licenses, insurance, business set-up, investment and make a business plan. Besides that, connect with professionals in the place where you’re moving to before you actually move so you can start to build your network.
In addition I would say, don’t take no for an answer, whenever you fall, get back up and get out there. Beyond the fear lies resilience and curiosity.
About Laimei Yeung | Certified Hypnotherapist
Laimei Yeung is passionate about supporting people to manage their anxieties and fears, helping them to become empowered through her transformational hypnotherapy techniques. Laimei has had to adapt her business several times in response to relocating overseas. www.laimeiyeung.com