February 2016 Women’s Start-Up Club Event Recap: Starting, Building, and Transitioning a Business in Japan
By Daphne van der Wielen, Canning Professional
On Tuesday February 23, the FEW Women’s Start-Up Club welcomed Anne Good of Eureka! Anne is an executive, career and life coach who shared her experience and expertise about starting her own business in Japan and transferring it to the United Kingdom during our monthly meeting.
Anne has been a member of FEW for about 12 years, having also served as vice president during that time.
Anne started by sharing the story of how she began her own business. In 2007, while on a trip to Thailand with her partner, Anne was asked what she did professionally by a fellow traveler. After explaining she was in human resources consulting and always dreamed of starting her own business, Anne ended by saying, “I guess I will never get there.” This new acquaintance responded with, “Why not? I think you can!” When she returned to Japan, she couldn’t get those words out of her head.
It was only a couple of months later — after considering her own lack of satisfaction and discussing her career aspirations with her partner — she decided to resign during a meeting with her manager, taking the first step to put her plan in motion.
“It is very liberating to say I don’t want to work here anymore, I want to do my own thing,” Anne explained.
And with that, Eureka! was born in January 2008, with Anne landing her first client on her second day in business, after discussing her plans with them at a Christmas party. From there, she built her business through the widespread network she had created through networking and professional organizations like FEW, BCCJ, etc.
From day one Anne was fully committed to developing every aspect of her business. She led the creation of her business cards, the website and client management documents, never waiting or slowing down to see where it would go. Since you don’t sell coaching through a website but through referrals, she was constantly networking and inviting people for coffee. Anne also had a well prepared elevator pitch of about 45 seconds to explain her business to everyone she met. Goals have always been part of how she works, but missing them now and again doesn’t deter her.
Anne said, “I do it for myself, not for anyone else.”
But it hasn’t all been smooth sailing. Both the financial crisis of 2008 and the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami resulted in declines in business, but Anne found the key to surviving was to keep calm and keep in touch with her clients. Keep up the momentum, no matter what the circumstances.
“People do not buy coaching through my website. Ninety percent of the business comes from referrals and you have to actively keep building your reputation to get these,” she said.
Does this mean longer hours and less off days? Of course. But it’s also meant working in the career and job she chose.
At the end of 2015, Anne made the somewhat scary decision to transfer her business to the United Kingdom. The business is still run through Japan, where Anne is a permanent resident. Despite her initial concerns, Anne didn’t lose clients, working with them via Skype instead. Anne stressed continuity as well as open communication and planning with her clients as reasons for her success.
Now, eight years on, Anne is proud of the company she’s built and the solid reputation she worked so hard for and says all you need is drive, enthusiasm, flexibility, good health and other people. After all, when you do what you like, it doesn’t really feel like work.
Useful Takeaways: Setting Up Your Business
- Setting up as a sole proprietor is the easiest way to start your own business, since you don’t need any investment capital. You can also set off your expenses against tax.
- Create your own company invoice, which can be attached to your personal account or a separate one.
- Make sure your website and business cards represent you and what you offer accurately. Outsource elements that aren’t within your area of expertise (immigration, legal, tax, etc.).
- Be ready to always “be” your business. Make sure you have a good elevator pitch to communicate with potential clients. Don’t focus on the negative, but focus on what you’ve learned.
- Choose who you trust, talk to and discuss your business ideas with. Too many opinions can hold you back.
Useful Takeaways: Coaching as a Career
- Coaching is all about helping people get to where they want to be. Coaching is fluid and it is hard to say where the fixed boundaries between life, career and executive coaching are.
- You build up a clientele through referrals and reputation. You cannot push to hard.
- Corporate contracts are much more lucrative but harder to obtain.
- As a coach, you need to be credible. Before setting up a coaching business, you need to gain life and business experience. People will decide very quickly whether they find you credible or not.
- Do what you can to maintain a healthful balance in your life to help you be your best self for your clients. Take care of yourself to stay well.
FEW members who have not yet received coaching from Eureka! are entitled to a free one-hour coaching session. If you want to take advantage of this or you would like to know more about Anne, she can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.