I am Dominika Miernik from Poland and I am currently living in Rome, Italy. I think of myself as a seasoned expat and a mix of career, love and entrepreneurial expat.
My international experience started over 10 years ago when I moved from a small Polish town to study Psychology at the University of Rome.
After my graduation I relocated to Milan, where my partner (he is Italian) was working, and I entered the traditional job world.
In 2009 my partner and I moved to Manchester, UK for a job opportunity. I continued with my career path where I covered various roles in HR, sales, customer service and marketing.
Discovering my entrepreneurial soul
I had never thought about becoming an entrepreneur and running my own business. My intention was to develop my career as an Occupational Psychologist or in the Human Resuorces sector. However while working in Manchester I realised that I wanted something more from my job than a means to pay my bills and go on holidays. I wanted to find a way to combine my personal experience as an expat, my background in recruitment, psychology and career counselling.
I wanted to reorganise my life to make work fit into my life instead of the other way around. So when the company I worked for was sold to a large corporation I resigned to start my own coaching business.
Today I am a Career Coach and Business Idea Generator for both individuals and organizations. I specialise in helping clients seeking to make an international career change to navigate the challenges and opportunities associated with discovering their dream career and then adapting to a new country.
For self-employment-minded clients, I expertly guide them to connect the dots between what they love to do and how they can design a business that matches their desired lifestyle.
Developing an entrepreneurial mindset and moving with your business
I started my business with great enthusiasm and curiosity. I finished my diploma in Personal Performance Coaching and Career Coaching. attended business development courses and worked with a mentor to learn more about marketing. Everything was going smoothly and setting up a business in the UK was quite easy. At the beginning I had some challenges with transitioning from employee to entrepreneurial mindset, but I think it was a part of the journey.
In 2014 we decided to move back to Rome. I was exited and looking forward to working in sunny Italy.
But suddenly I realised that some aspects of my business would need a makeover. I developed a great network in the UK, attended networking events, ran workshops and worked with some amazing clients, so starting from scratch in Italy seemed hard to me at the beginning.
Slowing down and taking a step back
What I did to make things easier was to be gentle with myself and slow down for the first months. This helped me have a deeper look at my business and what I wanted my life to look like.
I focused more on developing an online network, but still keeping the offline network in mind. I decided to work with international clients and to use my language skills to work with local Italian clients.
Another roadblock is that the coaching industry in Italy is quite new, and often people do not know what coaching is or what the benefits of working with a coach are. The key here is to be very specific about what are you doing and how you can help someone. After I advertised my services on an online forum I received a funny message where a person was asking me when am I going to organise the next football match? I am not a football coach! So as you can see, clarity is the key to success.
The next steps
I am constantly evolving, changing and improving my business. I am happy because I know that I can take my business with me to another country. I love travelling and both me and my partner are open for new national and international opportunities. It is not easy to run your own business, there are many challenges to overcome and so many things to learn, especially when you are living or moving abroad.
My tips for running a business in Italy
The economy in Italy is still recovering from the crisis. However there are opportunities to start a business for example in hospitality, food or fashion industry.
My recommendations for you are:
- Learn the local language, it will help you to understand the practicalities of setting up a business in Italy. For me it was quite easy. After studying and working in Rome and Milan I became fluent in Italian. Italians are great communicators: they will try to understand you and help you even if they don’t speak fluent English; they will appreciate your knowledge of Italian, even if you are a beginner.
- Italians like personal contact, they like to talk, so if you decided to run a local business focus on developing your local network, by attending face to face meetings, for example.
- Get a mentor, a coach or develop your own support network. It will help you to overcome initial challenges, know the local culture better and boost your confidence. It is normal to miss your home country, but there are many expats living here so you will not feel alone or isolated.
- Believe in yourself and what you can achieve. If you love what you do and you put a passion in your business I am sure you will succeed whenever you decide to live.
I love being an expat and running my own business. I am grateful for all I have learnt and all the people I met on my international journey. It enriched me not only from the professional perspective but from the personal side, too.
I experienced all aspects and challenges of being a student, an employee and now I am an entrepreneurial expat in Italy. It was all worth it and I want to share my experience with and help my clients to have the best of their international journey.
The Expat Career And Lifestyle Podcast on iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/the-expat-career-lifestyle/id987243021