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Expat Entrepreneur Spotlight: Claire Corbett
“I believe that most people have an inner entrepreneur just waiting for the right time to shine!”
Continuing in our Expat Entrepreneur series meet Claire Corbett, a well-traveled, savvy Irish femmetrepreneur who, after having already started and sold a successful business in the UK, is bringing her business acumen to the Swiss startup scene. A warm welcome, Claire!
Business advice for start-up and small companies
Q: What brought you to Switzerland?
Similar to a lot of expats here in Switzerland, my husband was offered an attractive 2 year contract here in Zurich. We jumped at the chance to go on an adventure. We moved here from Edinburgh, where my husband is from, 4 years ago. Now with a 3 year old girl, we realise that Switzerland is such a great place to raise a child and because we love it so much, we have decided to make Zurich our home. We also have a dog and Switzerland is very dog friendly indeed
Q: What gave you the idea to start your business?
Having spent many years working in a variety of companies from Dot Com start-ups in Silicon Valley to Corporate Banking, in UK and Ireland, I came to a point in my life where I wanted to do something different, more fulfilling in my work life. I yearned for more freedom, independence and also to tap into my creativity, which was slowly disappearing after years in limiting corporate type roles.
I decided to take the plunge in 2009 and follow one of my passions, travel. I set up a travel company from scratch and managed it profitably for 5+ years. I received an attractive offer to sell it and took it. It was a very fulfilling and rewarding experience. I learned so much about what it takes to set up and manage a successful company that I wanted to put it to good use – along with my degree in Marketing, coaching qualifications and years of business experience.
I set up Right Point to help and advise other entrepreneurs along their path to success. I am passionate about seeing people achieve their goals, realise their dreams and reach their potential. I truly enjoy what I do and I have a wonderful balance in my life between family, work and play.
Q: What’s your philosophy on entrepreneurship?
I believe that most people have an inner entrepreneur just waiting for the right time to shine. A lot of times, what is lacking is a little courage and self belief to make the leap and follow your business dream. Entrepreneurship is not an easy path, however, the benefits are immense. Being your own boss, exploring your creativity, time flexibility and paving your own path is priceless.
Q: How long did it take you to go from idea until taking the actual first step to get started? What was the hardest part?
It took 3 months of concentrated time to carefully write my business plan, complete my market and competitor research, develop the website and branding and then I took on my first client. The hardest part was getting started, committing to the idea and taking the first step. Once I did this, the rest flowed easily.
Q: Looking back, what’s something you wish you had known from the start about what it’s like to become an entrepreneur?
That it is not that scary! I wish someone had told me that making the leap from a secure corporate job to setting up on your own is not as daunting as it seems. If you have the right motivation, good planning and do what you enjoy, it is energising and positive. Courage and resilience will carry you through…
“The hardest part was getting started, committing to the idea and taking the first step. Once I did this, the rest flowed easily”
Q: Can you share some of the highlights of where your business has taken you and the people you have met along the way?
I have met so many wonderful entrepreneurs who have great business ideas, drive and passion. It is an honour to work and advise them along their path to success. I often get inspired by discussing new ideas and concepts with fellow business owners. I set up a “Small Business Owners in Zurich” meetup, where we get together once a month to discuss our businesses, it is both social and informative. One of the other main highlights of Right Point is the variety of businesses that I work with. It always keeps my work interesting – from setting up a language school to opening a cool gym here in Zurich, never a dull moment…
Q: What was the biggest hurdle for you to overcome along the way?
Finding cost effective ways to set up the company. Setting up in Switzerland can be expensive so I had to be very resourceful about how to get work done to set up my company. There are some great online resources to get the company set up tasks done at reasonable prices and good quality.
Q: What is a lesson you have learned since becoming an expat entrepreneur in Switzerland?
I think it is important to learn to speak German (or French if you live in the French speaking part) It helps to integrate, network and have a broader client base
Q: What is the biggest challenge your company faces today?
There are so many new tools technologies and methods coming on the market everyday. Finding clever ways for the company to keep on top of this ever changing landscape.
Q: What was the best advice you received?
The best advice I have received is to “surround myself with positive people”. The impact of having people around you that believe in what you are doing is powerful!
Q: What was the worst advice you received?
One of the worst piece of advice was “to go for a 9 to 5 job again and that this would give me security”. This may be true, however, it wouldn’t make me happy.
Q: What advice would you give other expat entrepreneurs wanting to start their business in Switzerland?
Do your research and plan well. Also, you don’t have to do it alone….Tap into your network – friends, family, contacts for support. Call in those favours for help with setting up your company. For example, I asked a photographer friend to take professional shots for my website for example, which really helped keep costs down.
5 Steps to Freelance in Switzerland
Prep: Work permit requirements
Step 1: Name your business
Step 2: Plan your business
………. ➊ Commercial registry
………. ➋ VAT requirements
………. ➌ Social insurance
………. ➍ Launch budget
………. ➎ Market research
………. ➏ Domicile & infrastructure
Step 3: Incorporate and register
Step 4: Kick off
Step 5: Keep rocking
I am a multilingual business executive, communications professional and writer with 20+ years of experience in operations and project management in various roles and industries.
Through the SSBB workshops and blog I help expat entrepreneurs plan, start, register and run their (small) business in the Switzerland.