Most of my clients in Switzerland don’t speak German or French. Even though you may see it as a limitation for starting your own business in Switzerland, I believe you have some great advantages to explore.
Let me show you five business ideas that you could use to launch your business in Switzerland if you don’t speak fluent German or French and some examples of people who are successfully doing it.
1. Teach Your Native Language
This may be the most obvious choice. If you are a native Spanish speaker, there are probably lots of opportunities where you can use that to teach others to speak Spanish. The same goes for any language from Russian to Italian to English.
People in Switzerland love to learn new things and because the quality of living is so high, many people are interested in learning something just because they are curious.
2. Help Startups in Switzerland to Expand or to Outsource
Switzerland is a fairly large player in the startup scene and I believe it will become a major player in the near future. Eventually, many successful startups will need to expand to some other place outside of Switzerland.
What if there is a lot of potential in emerging markets for what some of them have to offer and you happen to speak Portuguese? This is actually how one of my clients engaged with a startup in Zurich because they were interested in his offering to help them expand to Brazil.
Another one of my clients, who is from Russia, engaged with a startup in Zurich to expand their operations in Africa.
What if you are originally from India, Poland or Ukraine? Maybe there is a potential for outsourcing.
Use your creativity to come up with ideas and do some research on who could need your help to expand their business or outsource parts of it.
3. Help Organizations in Your Home Country to Do Business in Switzerland
This is simply point number two reversed. You could work with Chambers of Commerce or Embassies and help them with this task. I know somebody at the British Embassy in Bern who does exactly that.
You could also specifically target organizations in a country you speak the language of to do business in Switzerland. There are many organizations that would pay a lot of money for the opportunity to enter the Swiss market.
A women I recently talked to is establishing a platform to bring Russia and Switzerland closer together and improve business relationships.
Another women I have talked to is helping businesses and governments in Kazakhstan to apply Swiss and European methods and principles to help the economy grow in her home country.
There are plenty of opportunities here. Use your imagination and pump out as many bad, stupid and crazy ideas as you need until you stumble over a world-changing one.
4. Help People or Organizations in Switzerland That Originate from Your Home Country
One of the things I love about Switzerland is that it’s so multinational. You can find people from almost any cultural background.
Think about what you can offer to people who share your cultural background. Maybe simply offer what you wanted to offer all along but specify your target market to people from your home country who live in Switzerland.
I worked with a client from Sweden last year who did exactly that. He specifically targeted organizations from the Nordics and he is now working with a Swedish technology company in Zurich.
Another great example is a women I talked to very recently who is currently doing her coaching certification and will start her business soon. She wants do to executive coaching and is originally from Asia and has worked in the US for a long time.
So we brainstormed for a while and came up with the idea of helping Asian or American executives in Switzerland with her coaching services.
As you know, the more specific your target market is, the faster you will be booked solid because you start out by being a big fish in a small pond instead of being a small fish in a big pond.
There are plenty of businesses in Switzerland who focus on catering to expats.
Just take me as an example, I focus on helping English speaking business professionals in Switzerland build their own service business.
The Spouse Center, Centrepoint, Internations, Glocals.com, Angloinfo.com and every expat organization in Switzerland obviously offers their services specifically to internationals.
There is a huge potential and the fact that so many businesses focus on that group is proof that a big market exists.
5. Forget About Switzerland & Think Bigger
I recently wrote an article on “How to Create a Location Independent Career on Your Own Terms” because I realized what my clients really want is to live in Switzerland.
However, in a world where you and I are knowledge workers, there is no need to physically have your work or clients in Switzerland. Yes, you probably need and want to have your company based in Switzerland but that does not mean your clients need to be here.
One of my clients wants to build a Venture Capital business to fund clean tech startups. He loves the Swiss quality of living but that does not mean his clients need to be in Switzerland. He is connecting with potential partners between Berlin and Milano because he is currently based in Turin and frankly, what does it take to fly from Milano to Berlin with Easyjet?
He does not have to do physical labour for what he wants to build and he uses it to his advantage to also explore the startup scene in Berlin.
Another one of my clients is originally from Malaysia and worked for a long time in the U.S.
Even though he is building his consulting business in Switzerland, he puts a lot of time and effort into growing the impact of his social venture, the Kalmat Foundation, to give kids in Malaysia a fair chance for a good education.
Just before I went on my South America trip last year, I talked to an inspiring women who has spent many years in corporate before she started something significant over the past year.
She is in her 50s and figured that many more women in her 50s and 60s around the globe want to do something big with their life, even after their retirement. So she wanted to test that assumption and started a Facebook group for women over 60 who want to do something big with their life and guess what, she grew it to over 42’000 women within 12 months.
Yes, there are three zeros.
Maybe some of these women are based in Switzerland but the majority is probably not. So what?
If she wants to turn this into a business – and from her last update, it’s likely to happen very soon – she can set up the business in Switzerland if she wants to.
I hope you can see that there are plenty of opportunities available to you if you use your creativity and imagination, go out there and create something meaningful, something that matters.
So, get going and create a life on your own terms.
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