The exciting life of a dynamic mother, expat, and entrepreneur

Insights from professionals
  • woman entrepreneur
Published on 2017-11-06 at 11:00 by Veedushi
Marine's interest in journalism developed into a real passion during her stay in Vietnam as the co-editor of an online newspaper. Moving back to France, she decided to become an entrepreneur by launching her own news website. Marine is also a dedicated mom that juggles parenting and the responsibilities towards success.

Hi Marine, can you tell us a few things about you? 

I'm 32, from Britanny, France. I used to study law, but my dreams of moving abroad led me to a different path. I have had several small jobs and internships across Europe. Following my husband's posting, I took the opportunity to live in Vietnam for four years. We then moved to Austria, once again due to my husband's job. Now, we live in Vienna, in the heart of Europe.

You run a website called "Le Fil Rouge". How and when did this idea start, and how it has developed?

While we were in Ho Chi Minh City, I developed an interest in journalism and decided to give it a try. I've been the co-editor of a French news website and I really liked the experience but I also wanted to be my own boss. Back to Europe, I felt like creating my own news website with my own editorial line. With a lot of hard work and planning, not to mention meeting new people during my travels abroad, I finally launched my website which is intended for French-speaking people around the world. It offers a new vision of every single country and opposes all kinds of misconceptions about expat life.

In the past four years, you have lived in three countries. Would you describe yourself as a serial expat? What do you like the most about this lifestyle?

You'll find it a bit cliché, but like many, I'd say that living abroad is an extraordinary experience. Travelling and visiting places is something, but living in different countries, making new friends, changing your eating habits and lifestyle, trying to adapt and, sometimes, facing dangers, is really a whole new level. It feels like being a chameleon, changing your skin all the time. You never get bored.

As a dynamic person, I get bored very quickly. I've always felt the urge of giving to my life an exotic touch while facing new challenges. I would never be able to spend my life in a single place.

How has the process of starting your business been? 

I registered as a self-employed in France for logistic reasons, so I pay tax in France and contribute to the social security. I launched the website on my own time and using my resources while I was also expecting my first child. So I had to deal with two babies at a time! However, it was a pleasant experience as being engrossed in my project left me with less time to stress about my pregnancy. Overall, everything went smoothly and the people from the Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Paris were really kind and encouraging.

Your business is location independent. What benefits does this have and what difficulties, if any?

Financial issues have always been the hardest part. Investment is a continuous part of the game, which brings in doubts when we have personal projects aside. The website is continuously changing and improving, so there are always additional expenses we haven't even considered. When we look at the balance sheet, the only thing we can do is to keep cool and let go of any doubts. Till now, the website has had a positive response, which boosts my confidence in the project.

Finding human resource is another issue. Our employees have to be motivated and keen to experience new adventures, which sometimes requires a lot of sacrifice in terms of schedule, energy, salary, etc.. It's really difficult to find the right person and train them. For the time being, I have an amazing team and I really hope it will last.

Being specialised in communications and management, I don't really have the required technical knowledge and skills – which makes it complicated for me when it comes to making decisions. You then have to find the right people you can count on and get advice from.

What motivates you to keep going?

All the positive feedback we get! I really like to hear what people think about the website. I feel flattered by the number of people who actually like and follow it.

What has been the most rewarding moment in business so far?

I recently took part in an international conference intended for women entrepreneurs in Bucharest, Romania. It was really a rewarding experience since it's a proof that people are interested in the website. It's a kind of a recognition for my efforts and sacrifices – which I'm proud of.

How is your everyday life as an entrepreneur in Vienna?

For the time being, my everyday life is quite busy, juggling my life as a woman, mom, and entrepreneur. It's not always easy since I'm also living in a new country where I'm still trying to adapt to the local lifestyle and learn the language.

Vienna is a young international city where I'm convinced I'll be meeting interesting people. Also, the cost of living is lower than in Paris, which is really interesting for those living on a small budget.

How is the adaptation period to the Austrian lifestyle and pace?

I would really like to connect with other entrepreneurs here – both men and women. I'm also looking for coworking spaces. I wonder whether Vienna is as dynamic as Paris in this regard. I'm still trying to adapt since I moved here quite recently.

What has surprised you the most about Austria so far?

I was surprised by Vienna's international look. I've never thought that the city would be so open. People, including Austrians, speak different languages (mostly English) and get along so well.

Is Austria a family-friendly place to live in?

Austria is an ideal destination for families with it's calm and healthy atmosphere surrounded by lush nature. Kids, and even babies can enjoy a range of outdoor activities and nature. You can even find baby ski suits here! Also, there are markets everywhere and the food is cheap and easily available.

How does the entrepreneurship world in Europe look like?

I cannot really say much about entrepreneurship in Europe. I guess it varies from one country to another. France, for example, provides a lot of benefits to entrepreneurs (private, institutional, and associations). You just have to be very proactive as it can be quite complicated to find the correct information.

Regarding funding, you also have to build a network, which can help you find information and support to set up your business. Feel free to speak to the people around you about your project. Currently, I'm getting in touch with other women entrepreneurs from France and elsewhere.

If you had one piece of advice to an expat who wants to start their location independent business what would it be?

First of all, choose a field which really motivates you as you'll be spending most of your time in it (in the beginning at least). In this way, you'll neither lose interest nor get tired of what you're doing. Your motivation has to be at 100% as you will have to anticipate all kinds of difficulties, changes, attitudes, and results. Personally, I spend a lot of time doing research. As soon as I have a moment, when I'm not looking after the baby, I'm looking for anything that could be helpful to my business (ideas, articles, contacts, designs, events, news, technical aspects, funding, etc.). Sometimes my husband even gets annoyed by my overwhelming passion for my business. Often, I don't even realise how fast time goes by. Setting up a business definitely, involves a great deal of personal investment so you must be confident both in yourself and in your field of activity.

What are your plans for the future?

For the time being, developing the website remains my top priority. We're looking to gather more people around our cause. I now have more time for all this – since I secured a seat for my baby in a nursery – until the arrival of our second child.