How to Leave Your Job and Start Your Own Business From Abroad with Naa Ardua Flohic
Welcome to this episode of The Determined Mom Show. I have the lovely Nawa flow with me, and she is the owner of paper flow designs. And today we are gonna talk about how to leave your job and start your own business from abroad.
I’m very excited that you’re here and that you’re gonna share all of your knowledge about this because you are literally an expert in doing this. So I’m excited about that, but tell us about you and how you got started, and what you’re doing.
All right. A little bit about me. Where did I start? I am an ex-pat, which means that I am an American and I live somewhere else. I live in Europe. I am a mom of two, and I am also a digital illustrator and a blogger. So I’ve been living here in France for about 16 years now. I haven’t had my business for all of that time.
It’s only been official that I’ve done all the paperwork for my business since January, if you can believe that, but I’ve been working on it. So I’ve liked side hustling for the past three years.
And then this year, in January, I knew that was a date I was gonna launch. And, do all of the things to be. So I have been an official logger illustrator since January and doing it from the south of France.
First of all, let me just say no, I’m just kidding. Obviously, it’s a dream place to live and obviously to work. So I think that you have a huge advantage in that you have beautiful weather almost all year round, right? That’s true.
And you just have a great place to work. So I think that’s a huge benefit and that’s what you can get from picking somewhere in the world that you wanna move to and starting your own business.
Yeah. So let’s talk about how that process went for you. Like how did you, what were you doing before you started your business, and then how did you know you wanted to start a business and then how did you start that side hustle process, work through that? And then finally build up to that okay. I am not working for anyone else.
All right. I was never one of those people who just knew that they wanted to be an entrepreneur. I know some people feel like they’re born entrepreneurs. I was always that person who was scared. Just to be honest, I thought I was always gonna work with someone else.
It’s just safe. I don’t want to take the risk of working for someone else. And It wasn’t just like an overnight thing either. I was talking to my cousin one day. This was like six, no, four, four or five years ago now.
And she knew that I was artistic and I have always grown up drawing and painting, the thing is like you have kids and then you forget about all the things that you used to love to do.
And I put that aside and I hadn’t done anything for years. So she was just asking me, what are you doing with your art? And why don’t you do anything anymore? And I’m. Oh, when you have kids, you just don’t have time. You’re tired. After work. At that time, I was working in an office as a secretary law.
In a bilingual law firm here. And I just would come home, pick up the kids after school, make dinner, do baths, and read stories. And I’m like, I don’t wanna do anything, but just watch mindless television and have everyone leave me alone. Put my phone on silent and that’s it.
But my cousins do something with your passion. Like she’s you’ve only got one life to live and she’s an entrepreneur. And then she’s also a mom. So she knows all of the hardships and everything. And she’s looking, you are probably gonna regret this. Years down the line you never did anything.
She’s just starting from somewhere. Do one small thing. So after like endless nagging with her. I finally decided to start making some drawings, but I had to rewind, I had to learn digital drawing because up until now, up until then I knew how to do traditional classic drawing paper and pencil painting, but I wanted to get into digital drawing cuz I saw that’s what was like, new and trending what was coming up.
So I had to start learning and I know like a lot of people you are thinking like, when I wanna start something, I don’t know. It’s kinda like the chicken and the egg, like which one comes first, cuz you’re like, I wanna do this. I wanna start a business.
I wanna make money. But I don’t have the skills. So where do I start? And I don’t have the time. So I just started learning. I picked instead of watching mindless TV, and every night, I started learning how to draw. I would set my timer to 25 minutes a night on those little Palmora timers and just start learning how to draw. And within a couple of months, I started building slowly skill by skill.
And then I started posting my work on Instagram. I don’t know why I got the urge to do that. Or the nerves to do that. I was like, oh, you know what? I think my cousin was like if you’re doing something, I wanna see it. Prove that you’re actually doing this thing.
So I started getting feedback from people which I was great at, in the beginning. I was scared. Because you’re thinking I’m gonna put myself out there. What are people gonna say? What do people make fun of? Or if they say who do you think you are?
But nobody said anything like that. People are not as mean as you think that they might be on the internet. And I got an order. I got some guy who wrote me in my DMS and he’s Hey, can you make a drawing for me? I have a company where I make t-shirts for kids who are multicultural, like kids’ company. And he wanted me to make a drawing of Michelle Obama.
And I’m like, what? I’m like, is this a prank? Is this someone who knows me? But no, he was a real guy who wanted to pay me real money for a real drawing. And at that point I said, yes, even though I didn’t know how I was gonna invoice him, I didn’t have my company set up at that point.
I was just making drawings. And he suggested Etsy. So I was like, oh yeah, sure. Went on Google. I’m like, how do you open up a shop on Etsy? How do you do this? So it’s like the things that we’re afraid of because we don’t know all of these steps ahead of time.
Yes, we can. We can learn it. It’s like in this digital age you have so much information like Google is your friend. And that’s how I started my unofficial official business. On Etsy actually.
That’s awesome. That’s a great story. And I think it really speaks to letting it be creative or universal. I don’t know. What would you call that universal law take over, right? If you have something that you like to do, just start dabbling in it, and if it’s meant to be it’s going to happen just don’t be afraid to put yourself out there.
I think that’s probably the biggest lesson that I heard from that story, right? so awesome. So after that, obviously you were side-hustling for a while and just doing that on the side.
What made you last year decide that 2022 was gonna be the year that you were gonna pull the trigger and, do all the paperwork and all the official things, which I also have questions about that being an ex-pat and, filing for a business in another country, all of those questions, but we’ll get to that later. But what made you decide that 2022 was gonna be the year that you were gonna do this?
I had actually set myself a three-year goal, like back in, what was that now? 2019. I set myself a three-year-old goal and I’m like, okay, I want to leave my job at this time. And actually, I had started a couple of years before that I started in 2016, just like drawing and doing my drawings online thinking, okay, one day, one day.
And I kept saying one day, one day, and I’m like, you know what? You need to pick a date. You need to pick a date. I finally did in 2016. I said you know what? After 2019, sorry, I’m mixing up everything for three years, you are going to be your job. this is it.
You need a kick in the butt because otherwise you’re gonna keep sitting here and saying one day, one day, and it’s never gonna. Never gonna happen. And another thing that happened, I think so many people can relate to was COVID came. And I realized that, as we all did, time is short.
We all knew that before, but we got a big wake-up call with COVID. Why are we sitting here doing these jobs that we don’t wanna do? Even if we don’t mind. I didn’t mind my job. I didn’t hate my job. I just knew that wasn’t my passion. I knew that it wasn’t like my life’s stream wasn’t to be like a secretary in a law firm. It’s fine if that is your lifestream, but it just wasn’t mine.
So two of those things, I set a date and COVID just made me really stick to that date and not think, okay, that hate’s gonna come and I’m gonna push it back.No, I was gonna leave. And I made sure that every night I was doing the work after my job. To make this reality that on January 1st, 2022, I’m gonna be out of there.
That’s awesome. And I was gonna ask you how COVID played into that. 2019, nobody has any idea that anything is gonna happen. So we’re all making these wonderful plans for 2020 and beyond, and then COVID happens. So I wondered how that would work, but I think it actually accentuated your desire to make this happen.
That’s awesome. So back to my question: what in the world, like, how do you go about filing a business in another country? Does your citizenship status play into it at all?
For okay. In my case in France, your citizenship status doesn’t play into it. Cause I’m not yet a citizen. I’m a legal resident. I have, like the equivalent of what you in America if you’re in America would be called a green card.
So it’s like a card says I am a resident of this country. I’m allowed to be here. I’m allowed to live and work in this country. I can have that status and open a business. So all of this information. Once again, here I was back, Googling things. How do you open a business in France as a resident?
Not a citizen, because I had all of these questions and things that came up that I had no idea would even be questions. Like the fact that you’re an American citizen. You have to do things financially wise, where you have to like, report all of the earnings and revenue that you make, including your salary to the IRS.
I was like, okay, how in the world am I gonna do that? This sounds so complicated. And I was ready to start retreating back.
No, there’s a mountain of paperwork. I don’t wanna do this, but it was possible. I took one thing at a time.
Started Googling things, started asking people, and started going on forums on Facebook groups.
There were blogging groups that I was a part of. And I’m like asking people, Hey, is anyone else outside of the US here? Is there anyone else in France? Like how did you go about setting up your business, which? Which way did you do it? Do you have an accountant? Do you need an accountant?
Like all of these questions, you can just ask people and people will come flooding you with information.
Not EV, not all of it is right, but it’s up to you to like, it’s just, it gets, you started at least. And kinda get you over the fear and the hump of this seems too big. I can’t do this.
If you see other people that have done it successfully, then you’re like, okay, I can do this. That’s awesome. Yeah, that was my biggest question, because I’m imagining that feeling of overwhelmed, like just thinking about doing it, like for myself like if I were to move to another country, how would I go about doing that?
And I knew that was gonna be one of the questions like, oh my goodness. I have to know how she did that and how she went about that. So what advice do you have for someone? Who is? And there are a lot of people that listen to this show that are in other countries. Like we have listeners all around the world.
So they may be in this position where they’re not in their native country and they are in that space where they want to start a business. What is that advice that you have for them, where, Just go ahead and do it and do these three things or four things or 20 things?
Pretty simple for them and say three things first, very simple. Get yourself a little planner, schedule, calendar, whatever wall calendar, post-it notes, make it simple, write some dates on there and say, you’re going to do step one.
I’m going to do a Google search on how to start a business in X country, whatever country I’m in, first, cuz I realize The first thing is like committing to a deadline for me. That’s what works if I have a deadline and I see that deadline, I know I have to do that thing.
So open yourself, your little planner, or whatever, right in there. This week on this date, I’m going to start the research. So start the research, and give yourself a date. Step blind.
Step two: almost every country in the world. I dare to say it has some kind of better business bureau or some kind of entity where if you wanna start a business, usually if you’re gonna get licensed in that country, they have some kind of entity or bureau or office, something where like that, where you can go and ask. And, get answers. They’ll probably have a website that answers some of your questions.
So step two, check with the local authorities, check the better business, your small business bureau of your country, or your city, your state for whatever country that you live in or you wanna move to, they will usually have lots of information for people that wanna start a business in that country. Or that want to come to start a business in that country if you are living outside of that country.
And step three, don’t be afraid to ask other people too, go online. We are living in this digital age where we can connect with someone else. If I, today, I wanna say I wanna move to I don’t know, Angola, and I can go on online and say you.
Look or Facebook groups and say, okay, a small business group in Angola, join the Facebook group, join the Twitter group or the slack group or whatever, and start asking people questions because those people have experience and they can tell you and probably save you a lot of time and a lot of headaches because they’ll say oh, you know what?
You actually don’t have to fill out those 55 forms. You just need to start with, A meeting at the office with this, this person will tell them that I sent you and you’re like, oh wow, you saved me like five hours in the paperwork that I didn’t know that I didn’t have to fill out. Those three things.
I love it. And the wonders of Google translate and Facebook translate and all those wonderful tools that are built into our computers now and our phones and everything make it so much easier to be able to communicate with people that are maybe not in our native tongue.
That’s awesome. Awesome. I am so excited that you are here and that you’ve shared all of this with us. Where can people find your Etsy store? What is it called? And then where is the best place for people to find you online?
My Etsy shop is called paper flow design, so that is P A P E R like paper, like sheet paper, F O designs with an S on the end. My website also has the same name, paper flow designs.com. And that’s probably the best place to reach me is by email. I’m so old school.
Hey, I am the same way. People will send me Facebook messages, Instagram messages, and I’m like two months later.
I’m like I’m really sorry that I didn’t see this, but if you would’ve emailed me, I would’ve answered you right away.
Guilty is charged. That is so me, I went into my Instagram the other day and the thing is somebody tagged me on a story and I’m like, oh no, I missed it. It was three days ago.I didn’t know.
And I couldn’t even see it. And I’m like, oh, I wish I could, So I try to remember to go and like touch base on all of the social media regularly, but I am guilty. I don’t always do that. So the best place to reach me is email. So you can find me nad That’s N a D paper flow designs.com. The best place to reach me is by email.
Thank you so much for being here and sharing everything that you know about starting a business in another country, which is a lot, so thank you. You’re welcome.