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Comfort and fear

Skrevet af Femi og Michael

The last couple of days I’ve come across a couple of interesting blog posts about the state of mind of entrepreneurs. I’m sure people in all walks of life have fears or worries about what the future might hold, but running your own company can definitely put you out of your comfort zone and induce some fear. Naomi Dunford describes in Entrepreneurship: What To Do When You’re Scared Sh*tless how to face your fears and learn to accept that they are a condition of life:

“First, acknowledge it. Get to know it. The worst thing to do with fear is pretend it’s not there. You’re not fooling anyone, least of all fear itself, and by denying its existence you just look like an idiot. Get to the root of your fear. Analyze where it comes from. Find out what you’re really afraid of.”

An ATM here in Prague ate my Visa-card the other day because my account had gone red. This is of course is really annoying since I need to get a new card from my bank and everything. But it was also a bucket of cold water in the head pointing out that funds are starting to run a bit low. We should be good to get through January but sometimes it can be a scary thought. But as Naomi says…

“As a bloggers, artists, writers, business owners, we are afraid. Trying to avoid fear, circumvent fear, or remove fear is an act of futility. Fear will not go away.

Live with fear, do your thing anyway.”

Molly, a good friend of ours moved from Prague to Barcelona to start from scratch for the second time in a year. I really admire her for doing that and enjoy the way she describes it in her latest blog post:

“When I started thinking about moving to Prague (some of you will remember this) I was terrified. Terrified. And when I got to Prague I was terrified. And when I started teaching I was terrified. It seems like I spent so much time being afraid.

I think what I was most afraid of was the unknown. A pretty common fear. But not just the unknown of the big vast world, but the unknown Molly, the Molly I was turning into, the future Molly.

[…] It’s been an unbelievable ride, and I’m nowhere near finished yet! As I said to a friend recently, “If it wasn’t me I’d be jealous.” And it’s true. I’m jealous of myself.”

I have fears, yes – but I wouldn’t change it for the ride I’ve had.

Skriv kommentar 20. november 2007 kl. 15:10

Going back to Denmark

Skrevet af Femi og Michael

Last week I went back to Denmark for the first time since we moved to Prague. It was great to be back and I got to see some friends and my closest family which was really nice. But I realized that as long I have Denmark within decent reach and can go back when I want I don’t need to live in Denmark right now. And now I’m back home in Prague.

Denmark had also just entered the election frenzy when I got back which was good because I got to put in my vote before leaving the country again. I’ve been following the coverage in the media but it has been a lot of meta-spin and personal attacks rather than political debates that’s been filling the papers.

I’ll be going home again for Christmas on December 23rd and I’m really glad I’m missing out on the Danish retailers Christmas hype.

Skriv kommentar 9. november 2007 kl. 16:25

Building a network from count 0

Skrevet af Femi og Michael

Moving to a new place can be a bit scary because you might not have any friends – here is how we did it in Prague.

I just sent invites to our house warming party. It’s now almost 5 months since we moved here – so about time. I sent to invite to about 35 people that we consider friends. When we moved to Prague we didn’t know anyone, so it’s been an interesting exercise in building a network from the ground up.

Virtual networks
I didn’t use Facebook before I moved to Prague, but otherwise that would be a good place to ask your network if they know anyone who knows anyone. Same goes for LinkedIn. I’ve also joined Meetup and CouchSurfers Prague but I’ve been to busy to go to any of those events.

Blogosphere
By coincidence someone in Slovakia found my blog and that let to the first local friend we made in Prague. Later I also used blogbot and Overskrift to find other Danish bloggers in Prague.

Student Organizations
I had been a volunteer in Erasmus Student Network (ESN) in Aalborg while in university and when I went to US for a trainee-ship I went with IAESTE. These are both international student run organizations that has local chapters at a lot of universities across the world. One of the first things I tried to do when I knew I was going to Prague was to get on the two organizations mailling lists in Prague. It wasn’t easy and it took some work to find the right people to ask but eventually I got on both lists. ESN was inactive during the summer so it was through IAESTE we got the most contacts. A lot of the people we met were trainees that has left the city again but a few has continued in real jobs. With the trainees we did a lot of trips inside of Czech.

Professional Networks
We went to a tech conference in Ostrava in the east of Czech Republic. Here we met a couple of people having companies like our own designing and building software.

Expat circles
There is a lot of foreigners – or expatriates – living in Prague. And for many of them the situation is the same as ours, they don’t know many people when they moved here. So naturally expats are more willing to make new friends than local people who have old friends and family they are spending time with. At the same time it is my experience that expats are very outgoing so there is always a party or an event to go to.
Once you have met one expat you are bound to meet more. Someone will organize a dinner or party and then you talk to a couple of new faces and suddenly you have three new friends that invite you to other events. It really becomes a network of friends of friends (of friends). When you ask another expat ‘so how do you know Judy?’ it is usually a chain of friends’ friends that has led to the connection.

Sports/interest clubs
We have joined two different football teams one of them just a play-for-fun team and a another that plays in the Czech football league system.

Unfortunately most of our circle of friends are non-Czechs but all in all there hasn’t been a quite weekend since we moved to Prague and we keep meeting new people.

Also read the blog post by Kelvin from the Philippines about How To Network Without Really Trying.

[tags] networking, networks, travelling, building network, prague, expats [/tags]

2 kommentarer 24. oktober 2007 kl. 11:46

Happiness At work

Skrevet af Femi og Michael

I came across an interesting post and set of photo’s the other day and I just had had one of these moments during work (http://positivesharing.com/2007/10/heres-what-happiness-at-work-looks-like/), were I accomplished true happiness with my job.

Regardless of what avenue you work in in your daily life, the feeling of accomplishing a difficult and challenging task cant help but bring a smile to your face.

[tags]happiness, work, job satisfaction[/tags]

Skriv kommentar 3. oktober 2007 kl. 10:18

Good readings from the past week

Skrevet af Femi og Michael

There has been a couple of interesting blog posts in my feeds lately that I wanted to write about but now I’ll role them all into one post so I can get them out of my system…

First there was Rasmus talking about making the Creative Choice [his post is in Danish] to be an artist and going for the dream rather than the “safe” job. Inspiring reading.

Next was Pelle’s entertaining blog post about Why Globalization wont make everything the same. There is no doubt that we are living in a world that is getting continually smaller but that doesn’t mean that everything will be the same. Yesterday we were invited to a dinner here in Prague by two Germans and a Vietnamese and we had some really good food – the the balut is probably not going to make it into Danish cooking soon.

The last post came today from Ryan about the Reactions to him starting a company. It is always good fun to tell other people about our business and the questions that produces.

Skriv kommentar 24. september 2007 kl. 12:54

Three months status in Prague

Skrevet af Femi og Michael

So we’ve already been in Prague for 3 months so why not try and make some kind of status of what it’s been like.

Charles Bridge (again)Cost of Living
Cost was one of the primary reasons why we moved to Prague. Copenhagen is one of the most expensive cities in the world to live in so the first target is easily acquired. Prague is not super cheap, but it’s still a good deal when we are bringing money earned in Denmark. A rough estimate is that our money lasts one quarter to a third longer here when we consider rent, food, clothes and socializing. The quality and selection of supermarkets, restaurants etc. in Prague is just as good (if not better) than what you get in Copenhagen.
In a later post I will write more specific about what we pay here.

Swimming in the VltavaSocial relations
We have used a number of different channels to meet other people and make new friends. As a blogger the first thing I looked for were Danes blogging from Prague and I found a couple. We went to an industry conference were we met a lot of Czech people we still keep in touch with. We used the virtual networks of CouchSurfing and Hospitality Club to meet other expats in town. The network we’ve used the most so far has been the student organization IAESTE that was the organization that brought us to US and we’ve stayed in touch with since.

ReflectionsAdventures
Another of the primary reasons for moving to Prague was simple for the adventure of living in a foreign country. And The Czech Republic has been good to us in terms of adventures. As mentioned above we’ve made a good circle of friends so every other week night and almost every weekend there are social activities or trips to attend. Go to my private blog if you want to read more about our adventures.

Running the company
South Bohemian landscapeOur company is still registered in Denmark so it’s still Danish VAT and tax we are messing around with. It’s not an enjoyable task at all but when it’s put into system skat.dk and other sites makes it easy to sit far away from Denmark and do the books.
We haven’t ventured into setting up a Czech branch or company and will not do that either. From what we hear there is a lot of red tape especially when you are not fluent at speaking Czech. Likewise we haven’t tried to work out if it would make more sense for us to pay Czech income taxes instead of Danish. In a not so distant future we will probably be setting up a limited company in UK in order to move more of our international work into that company.

Jazz at old Town SquareCostumer relations
We still have the Danish cell phone numbers we used in Denmark so I don’t think all of our clients know that we are actually sitting in Prague rather that somewhere in Denmark. To our established costumers most of our interaction has been over the phone anyway so that hasn’t really changed. Other clients have been from UK, Germany and USA and all communication has been through Skype, IM and email so that hasn’t changed either.

Extending our stay
Our street The first plan with our Prague stay was to stay here for six months and then go back to Copenhagen or try a stint somewhere else. But we’ve come to like Prague in our short say so far, so we just extended our plans to span a total of 12 months. That will give us enough time to focus on the project we are running now and really get to know the city.

Skriv kommentar 14. september 2007 kl. 13:11

Back at work in Prague

Skrevet af Femi og Michael

So after a few weeks in Hawaii with good friends and a couple of weeks back in Prague recouping from the trip we are now slowly starting to get back to the full swing work.

Vue of Prague from Zizkov

Autumn has started in Prague and today it’s cold, rainy and windy. But it’s also good to be home in Prague with fond memories of a great summer.

Skriv kommentar 11. september 2007 kl. 14:22

Goal #2: A trip to Hawaii

Skrevet af Femi og Michael

Na Pali Coast

Today our company celebrates it’s 11th months anniversary – hurray!

When we started almost a year ago, we tried to formulate some goals we could put into our business plan. When you are all green it’s quite difficult to put some figures on how much money you expect to make in the next six to twelve months. So we did a backwards calculation – were do we want to be in a year?

Asking ourselves that question we came up with two very specific goals we could target.

Goal #1: Stay alive for six months
We were more or less both broke when we started the company and didn’t want to take a loan to get things going. So our first goal became to be able to pay for rent, food and partying the first six months of our company’s life. I was pretty sure that we would be down and out by six months down the line but on the contrary we got jobs coming in and were having fun in Copenhagen while making a decent living.

Goal #2: A trip to Hawaii
Fernando, one of our friends who was in Michigan same time as us, got a job as an engineer in Hawaii after he graduated last year. We made it our second goal to be able to afford travelling to Hawaii and visit Fernando. About three months ago we had a good contract that gave us enough stability and income to be able to buy the tickets for Hawaii. So tomorrow we are starting our journey, flying half way across the world to spend three weeks of vacation on the islands of Hawaii with a couple of friends. The picture above is from the beautiful Na Pali coast were we will be trekking for four days.

We need to come up with our next goals but more on that when we get home.

Life is good!

Update: Define Success is a blog post by Rick Turoczy of More Than a Living of how to clarify goals. It rings nicely with how we defined our goals.

[tags]goal, setting goals, entrepreneurship, travel, vacation, startup, company[/tags]

1 kommentar 1. august 2007 kl. 09:47

Next generation of employees

Skrevet af Femi og Michael

I first came across the term Generation Y (people born between 1980 and 1990) the other day and it’s been lingering for a couple of days.

“As Generation Y or the Millennials leave their dorms behind and enter the real world, we are encountering a corporate world that is, for the most part, still stuck in its outdated ways.” –Guest Post: What Gen Y Wants from Work

In a way I’ve been thinking that Femi and I were kind of different in abandoning the corporate work, starting a company and moving to a different country. But when I think about it I meet and read about a lot of people from my generation that tries to do things differently. The quote above is from Ryan Healy of Employee Evolution who wrote a post at WWD about what Generation Y wants from a workplace and it struck me as something very much aligned with my thoughts of careers and job.

“I don’t need a business plan and I don’t need millions or even hundreds of thousands to ditch the boring paychecks. I can even continue collecting a paycheck and make some extra money on the side. My very unscientific estimate of young people I know who plan to start a business at some point is eight out of ten. It’s no longer a risky dream. Starting a business is a reasonably cheap and attainable reality. The days of keeping top employees around with a 5% raise or a promotion to the corner office are dead.” – Guest Post: What Gen Y Wants from Work

The emergence of websites like this (Børsen Mikro) is an attribution to a shift in the (Danish) society for more people establishing their own business. Especially in times like these were the Danish economy is doing good. It will be interesting to see how the bigger companies will act to embrace the future generations of employees.

There is more interesting reading material on Generation Y at Wikipedia and Gen-Y.org

Just discovered that Mads Kristensen also commented (in Danish) on the article.

Technorati Profile

Skriv kommentar 24. juli 2007 kl. 11:12

US economy

Skrevet af Femi og Michael

I came across a post at www.baekdal.com a few days ago and it struck a perfect cord with me, as we had recently gone through the same situation with a previous US based client coming back with a proposal for further work.

“…my prices has gone through the roof ever since George W. Bush decided to see if he could bankrupt a country.” –The US Economy is killing me

A lot of work in our industry is typically generated in the US and historically the US has been a major player when it comes to outsourcing IT jobs to Europe and Asian countries at much cheaper rates. The ironic situation now is that due to the current economic situation in the US it can now be cheaper for companies in European countries such as Denmark to outsource work to the US as opposed to get local talent for the job. Unfortunately that also results in Danish prices being perceived as extremely high when dealing with US companies. Our usual price estimate (project dependant) of 800Dkk per hour is now the equivalent of nearly $150 p/h, hence we’ve effectively increased our price by nearly 10% in the last year in the US without actually changing our price at all!!

[tags]US, Economy, USA, Rates[/tags]

Skriv kommentar 23. juli 2007 kl. 19:50

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