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Building A Strong Online Business

Running an online business can give you the freedom to live life on your terms, but only if you know what you’re doing.

If you walk up to people on the street and ask them what the No. 1 thing is that they want most out of life, the answers will all likely have something to do with one word: freedom. Financial freedom, geographical freedom, the freedom to live your life on your own terms and take control of your destiny. It almost sounds too good to be true … But in today’s age, it has become not only a possibility, but a reality for many entrepreneurs who have decided to take their destiny into their own hands by taking a risk and starting their own ecommerce business.

While creating an online business may seem like the perfect way to grow your income and have the lifestyle and freedom you desire, it is far from easy. In order to be successful in the business world, there are five factors that you need to master.

1. Mentorship

Not only is it important to have access to quality information, but it is also important to have one or more mentors that can provide you with one-on-one guidance and counseling. When starting a business, it is inevitable that you will have many questions. Having the right mentor is going to help guide you in the right direction, and you’ll learn from their mistakes, rather than making your own. There’s nothing more valuable than directly getting help from a successful businessman, somebody whom you would trade places with.

Access to quality one-on-one mentorship where you’re able to ask somebody who’s in the trenches and building brands every day questions is extremely valuable. In order to provide the best services for your clients and build your business, quality mentorship should be an integral part of your program. In this manner, clients can learn all the steps needed to start a successful business, whether it be in ecommerce or a different branch.

2. Persistence 

Ecommerce has grown into a multi-trillion dollar industry and has created the most important technological revolution in business in the 21st century. Millions of people around the world are literally making millions selling products online; however, it’s not for everyone. Building a business is not easy, and you will fall down more than once. Hence, in order to build a successful ecommerce business, you must work harder than everyone else and keep going even when you feel like quitting.

If you want to live a life like nobody else, you must work like nobody else. When you feel like giving up, you should remind yourself of this. Only through persistence will you be able to build a successful business.

3. Mindset

In a similar fashion, a positive mindset is extremely important when it comes to building a business. Many people, even those who are able to succeed, lack this necessary mindset, which means that any short-term gains and successes won’t be sustainable. Without the right mindset, it is impossible to build a business that will thrive in the long term. Mindset is entirely learnable and can be studied and adopted by anybody with the will to succeed.

4. Access to the right information

In today’s day and age, there is an excess of information on the internet. While having access to information is an advantage, a lot of information is not reliable and steers many people the wrong way. Hence, it is important to educate yourself with quality information, such as that provided in a quality course. In order to have a successful business, quality education and information need to be made a priority for each and every one of your clients.

With the way the world is going, there is nothing that competes with buying products online, but a lot of people get excited about the amount of money they could make in the business and get into it without any knowledge or experience. Getting into this business without having the right information and guidance will most likely lead to failure.

5. Faith

Throughout the many ups and downs that come with starting your own business, ultimately your success will finally come down to your level of belief in yourself and your faith. Whether it be in God, in the Universe or whichever higher power you believe in, it is important to have faith in something greater and know that you are not alone.

If you truly center on these factors and focus on growing as a person and entrepreneur, you will stand out from the crowd, and there is no doubt that you will build a successful business.

By Jose Aristimuno, ENTREPRENEUR LEADERSHIP NETWORK CONTRIBUTOR, CEO of VIP MEDIA SOLUTIONS

Source: https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/380628

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What Drives Growth in Midsize Firms?

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Summary.

How does growth transpire in the underrecognized midsize firm? In the authors’ research, they found that the owners, CEOs, and top managers of midsize companies tend to describe their competitive advantage in terms of who they know (connections) and what they’re able to do (capabilities) — and that these variables change and interact to facilitate growth. Their findings offer a model of how midsize companies can manage connections and capabilities to achieve desired growth objectives.

 

Much attention is paid to either the startup or stardom — the most exciting business idea (that has yet to make a profit) or the star that began in a garage and is now a worldwide powerhouse, trading actively for billions. But what do we know about the transition of growth between those two extremes? How does growth transpire in the underrecognized midsize firm? We sought to find out.

Over the course of our respective careers, we’ve had the opportunity to work with many different midsize firms, helping them enhance capabilities, expand operations, and enable exports. We’ve found that the owners, CEOs, and top managers tend to describe their competitive advantage in terms of who they know (connections) and what they’re able to do (capabilities)We’ve also noticed that these variables change and interact to facilitate growth. We made those variables the focus of our research.

In our study, we asked CEOs of established midsize manufacturing firms to describe the key variables that contributed to their companies’ growth over a period of five to 10 years and the processes they followed to achieve it. Their descriptions encompassed both personal connections and their companies’ capabilities. They identified personal rapport with executives at customer and partner firms, as well as their firms’ specialized expertise and ability to operate efficiently and/or adapt, as drivers of their growth. Then, it got interesting: We found distinctive patterns of connections and capabilities based on each firms’ revenue stage.

Midsize firms are commonly funded by commercial banks, so we grouped them into categories consistent with commercial lending underwriting practices to see what differences would emerge among the groups. The largest U.S. commercial banks categorize their industrial clients according to total revenues as follows:

  • Business banking: $2 million–$20 million
  • Mid-market: $20 million–$50 million
  • Upper mid-market: $50 million–$250 million

Of course, not all of the midsize firms we studied were growing. In fact, some were stagnating or experiencing slow growth. So, we explored the differences between slow and fast-growing firms to learn what causes the difference. We found that the key drivers for growth within a revenue category differ from the drivers to jump from one revenue category to the next. Our findings offer a model of how midsize companies can manage connections and capabilities to achieve desired growth objectives. First, let’s explore the interaction of connections and capabilities as a growth mechanism within each growth-stage category.

How midsize firms grow

CEOs of successful midsize firms described themselves as their companies’ primary contact, with direct hands-on influence over its connections and capabilities. Their companies achieved growth through investments in relationships and proving to be reliable over long periods of time. They offered advantages over their immediate competitors through speed in their core competencies (i.e., what the company does, and what it does well). As a value-add, these firms developed specific complements to their core competencies based on their key clients’ needs — for example, adding intermediate warehousing to complement local logistics. From the hours of interviews we conducted, it’s clear that these CEOs parlayed their connections to bring in contracts and used their companies’ competencies to deliver superior value.

How midsize firms change to continue their growth

Our previous experience in the field had shown us that midsize firms don’t follow the same playbook all time; the strategy that’s effective when a firm is smaller won’t work when its revenues grow multifold. We can all name some firms that continue to grow and others that stagnate or slow down. We wanted to know why.

Although the CEOs mentioned that they relied on their connections and capabilities to achieve growth for their firms, the relative emphasis on the underlying components of those connections and capabilities shifted as the revenues grew. When the firms were smaller ($2m to $20m revenue), the CEOs described their connections as singular and focused on their primary customers and their capabilities as aligned to solve the customers’ problems. But as they grew and added more customers, the emphasis shifted. For firms in the next tier ($20m to $50m), the CEOs described their connections and capabilities as “well-oiled machines,” driven by proven relationships with key clients and winning formulas based on reputation, trust, and niche. These firms’ core competencies included flexibility and quickness in production processes, as well as distinct capabilities compared to rivals as a growth mechanism.

As the firms entered the next tier ($50m to $250m), the CEOs described their connections and capabilities as strong and dominant alliances and affiliations with key customers, suppliers, and partners. The firms offered integrated solutions, continuous innovation, and cutting-edge offerings. Growth was achieved through aggressive broadening of applications, progressive learning, and new market creation. Overall, firms within our study built distinctive profiles of connections and capabilities for growth and stability within their revenue category.

Even as the midsize firms grew and achieved stability within their communities (and perhaps more importantly in the eyes of their funding source, the commercial banks), some firms, even those that had reached the pinnacle within their revenue tier, were unable or unwilling to jump to the next tier. This issue represented the final focus of our research.

How midsize firms transition from one stage to the next

As you recall, we purposefully asked our CEOs to describe their connections and capabilities and how they changed over a five-to-10-year period. As a result, we were able to capture changes in the firms’ connection and capability profiles as they transcended growth between stages (or revenue tiers).

The excerpt below is from the CEO of a small pump manufacturer that successfully managed growth past the $20 million mark. The CEO describes incremental improvement in processes as a mechanism to facilitate and manage growth through its OEM (original equipment manufacturer) client:

From five years ago to now, there’s been a continuous investment in technology. We’ve made great advances in our building to design stuff more quickly, our analysis tools are way better, a lot of fluid dynamics software we’ve just continuously upgraded…that along with the IT.

And then the other thing is basically our manufacturing system, the lean principles that we’ve applied…you know, minimum part travel, the part goes into a cell and [comes] out of a cell complete, and it’s simplifying the manufacturing process, and then basically driving your production cycle down to two-day intervals…has sucked out so much lead time. So the lead time and the productivity, those two things together.

Notice the emphasis on continuous refinement of what’s working, application of lean principles, and process simplifications to hone the firm’s capabilities as a way to achieve growth. This CEO further describes his firm’s connections with key clients:

[I]n OEM environments, there’s a trust thing built there. It’s getting that perfect balance to value and then consistently performing. So you build that trust [to] where the guy goes, “They give me the value and they’re never going to screw me”…and so you’ll keep those guys. …[Our company], we’re kind of unique in the world; we’re known for honest, straightforward, our word is our bond. As we build that relationship more and more and more, they become less and less concerned that we’re going to steal stuff. And then that releases energy that would not become realized.

Trust and reputation are built intentionally over time to gain exposure to other potential clients. Performing successfully with current clients, garnering reputation for integrity, and creating value is how the firm grew past the early client list and thus zoomed past the $20 million revenue mark.

Although the formula of refinement and improvement in capabilities and wider penetration into potential customer bases can result in success in the early stages of growth, the formula wears out. To transition into the next stage ($50m–$250m revenue), we found that firms leveraged their core competencies toward new applications while strategically partnering to enter new markets.  Essentially, those firms that transition to the higher tier redefine their internal dialogue. The scripted growth story that once enabled the firm now constrains it. The CEO of a robotics-integrator firm explained this process:

I can talk for a long time about characterizing [our company] when I say a systems integrator.  Historically, that has been about welding, metal joining and cutting…and we recently diversified from metal joining and cutting to other, more elaborate processes…which has kind of brought us some growth and maybe a new generation of life.

The strategy for growth was really two facets, one was to expand the processes that we offer…so we did a technology expansion, and at the same time, concurrently, we did a global expansion. So we moved into [foreign country] with a joint venture, and we’ve also moved into [another foreign country] with a small start-up. So we put together a 5-year plan, and it included specific growth targets.

The firm recognized the need for transition and the limitations of prior scripts, then sketched out expansion pathways to grow into the highest growth stage we studied. The CEO of an industrial seat manufacturer that moved into that same growth stage viewed his firm’s connections as a joint commitment to investment with the client, including a willingness to deploy resources on their collective behalf. High levels of collaboration with a client helps remove investment risk for the midsize firms in new applications, and mutual commitment serves as a sturdy ladder for growth.

The smaller firms we studied grew by managing their connections and capabilities through building firm bonds with early clients and serving them reliably. They then transitioned from a few focal clients to a larger base by increasing their efficiency and core competencies and winning new clients through their reputations for integrity and value creation. The changed emphasis helped them grow to a point, but to transition into the next stage, organizations leveraged their core competencies toward new applications while fostering relationships toward joint investment and new market creation. In this final stage we studied, growth was achieved through strong alliances, integrated solutions, and cutting-edge offerings.

We offer our model in a summarized table below.

Lacking established brand equity, midsize enterprises often rely on close relationships and unique and sharply defined capabilities to earn business. In early stages, they could earn business by building close bonds with key clients and aligning the firm’s capabilities to deliver unique value. As they achieve initial growth, their managers could apply the firms’ core capabilities to new industries to deliver uncommon value.

Smart young firms know that before there’s a product, there are capabilities. Rather than producing a routine product, young midsize firms might draw on their proprietary capabilities to initially build distinctive solutions for a very small number of clients. To grow, managers should emphasize persistent refinement of the solutions to deepen distinctiveness and then widely peddle the solutions to other clients.

Growth plateaus are common, even for healthy and strong midsize enterprises, and they occur when firms seem to have exploited all available opportunities in current industries. To grow, managers should encourage their firms to find ways to transfer their capabilities to new industries. We have to warn, however, that this would require reconfiguring the incentives, reporting lines, management structure, and processes to encourage and support new applications and new markets.

 

By Gary Wolbers and Arun Pillutla

Source: https://hbr.org/2021/06/what-drives-growth-in-midsize-firms

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TIPS FOR A COST EFFECTIVE LIFE ABROAD

If you’re looking to move abroad, but you don’t have the budget, don’t panic. Some countries do offer the possibility of enjoying an excellent quality of life along with a low cost of living. So here are some tips for living overseas for cheap from Jerry Nelson, a US expat blogger living in Argentina.

My housekeeper has her own chauffeur. Really. He brings her by the condo once a week and lingers in the automobile while she spends several hours tidying up the mayhem, which has taken me a week to create.

I’ve offered and encouraged her driver to come inside and join me on the mezzanine for matè (a traditional South American infusion), but he chooses to wait in the car.

Regardless of his reason for ‘social distancing’, when was the last time you heard, in America, of a maid having her own driver? My hunch is you never have.

Having a housekeeper who has her own chauffeur isn’t a sign of my being rich. It’s a gauge of life which is available once the twisted chains to America are separated.

The prices are decent. More than reasonable, really.

A gallon of milk? $1. A litre of soda? Eighty-cents. How about a breakfast of four empanadas, coffee and a medialuna (croissant)? $2.58.

A nice steak dinner is lomo — the Argentine version of ribeye — baked potato, salad and dessert—$ 7.75.

What about travel costs? A person can fly from Buenos Aires to Washington DC for less time and money than it takes someone to journey from Washington DC to Los Angeles to see their parents and crazy Uncle Henry.

Travel overseas enough, and you’ll see something in the Americans you meet. Most of the people I know in the states are handcuffed to repetitive tasks, uncertain relationships or uneducated about the world beyond the horizon.

The expats I’ve met have visited almost 150 nations and rarely show evidence of boredom, worry, or regret. Almost all seem to be the personification of what an Australian man told to be on a dirt road in the Outback. “Don’t spend time, enjoy it!”

Americans’ poverty line stands just a tad over $12,000 a year — for a single adult with no kids. $12K won’t get you far in Oakland, but it will get you a full year of awe in one of these three nations. In each of these $1,000 a month covers housing, food, and access to exploits which Americans can hardly imagine.

Bolivia
Everything is super-cheap in South America’s least-visited country. A room in a five-star hotel runs $5 a night, and they will let you take a (leashed) alpaca for a ramble at no cost.

Landlocked behind Peru and Chile, Bolivia is an even greater bargain than backpacking sanctuaries like Cambodia.

Bolivia has the largest Native American culture in South America, and they practically created the frugal experience such as Cholita. In Cholita wrestling, the Bolivian counterpart to America’s WWE, women battle it out for your entertainment. The cost to watch a match is about five-cents.

Bolivian natives never look to be in a rush. They manage to maintain links to their 3,000-year-old ancestors. In the past 185 years, they’ve had almost 200 heads of state. They’re not in a big hurry to put the past behind them.

Mountain biking on the treacherous road leading from Coroico to La Paz is a blur of microclimates which tosses mud in your face. Given the nickname, “death road,” the highway was dug into the side of a mountain in the 1930s and connects the Amazonian rainforest to La Paz.

Georgia
No. Not Atlanta. The former Soviet republic which gives ‘cheap’ a new meaning. Tbilisi, the capital, overflows with cafes and wine bars. A nice bottle goes for $5 and a hotel room for $8 at Fabrika, a former Soviet-era garment factory since converted into a dazzling hotel and community centre.

Most expats shell out $150 a month for a nice apartment. But don’t talk politics. It’s better to debate white versus red in the wine-crazed nation.

Grenada
This West Indies paradise has plenty of exotic beaches to nice places to relax. Welcome to the Caribbean. Going local means navigating retirement in style and luxury. Get into the national dish made with coconut milk oil residue and enjoy the one-pot stew of breadfruit, callaloo, okra, cabbage, fish, dumplings, turmeric — and anything else on hand.

A traffic circle near Grand Anse Beach bounds an outdoor marketplace named “Wall Street” with banks on opposite ends. The circle attracts locals busy buying open-air-grilled meat and fish for beverages sold directly from blue and red ice chests in pickup beds.

Late at night, cars blare music and parties. The distant calypso music fills the barbecued night air and therein lies your cue to follow the music of steel drums. To see it all and do everything, plan on spending about $20.

The takeaway
From Sean Connery to Daniel Craig, each James Bond has lived, worked and played in the world’s top-shelf vacation spots. Part of the reason is no one wants to believe that a world-class spy would work anywhere other than world-class regions. James Bond in Cheboygan doesn’t have the same flair.

But I believe that Bond couldn’t afford to live his lifestyle in America, so he goes overseas where life is cheaper and living well is less expensive.

source:Expat.com

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International Customer Service Week – Customer Appreciation Post

Customers are a foundational part of the activities of every successful organization. The importance of the Customer can be conceptualized and likened to the root system of a tree. They provide businesses with leverage and control in the market share of whichever industry that they operate in. Yes, indeed customers also provide businesses with feedback and first-hand insights on the quality of services over the years.

In that regard, we can agree that the relationship between a customer and an organization or service provider should be mutually beneficial and not merely a parasitic one.At GroConsult the needs of our customers are paramount and play a vital role in aiding us to maintain our level of excellence in operations. Therefore we cannot downplay the contributions of our customers to the growth of our vision

For this and many other reasons, we would like to appreciate your involvement with the firm by saying a big thank you to both existing and potential customers. GroConsult deeply acknowledges your commitment to our cause and your involvement with us.

Growing Businesses Delivering Results

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5 TIPS TO EFFECTIVELY MANAGE A REMOTE WORKFORCE


5 tips to effectively manage a remote workforce
People around the world are getting a crash course in managing a remote workforce due to the novel coronavirus and you can expect some growing pains ahead.

But like any crisis there are opportunities and new ways of doing things that will emerge. If anything the novel coronavirus may have simply accelerated trends in the workplace that were already happening.

Here are 5 tips to manage a remote workforce effectively

FLEXIBILITY IS YOUR NEW COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE
A remote workforce buys you a lot of flexibility. The downside for remote workers is that the day may never seem to end if they don’t follow healthy work habits. The upside is your teams can scale up based on workflow not a schedule that’s dictated by commutes and operating hours. You can use this flexibility to win in the field vs. less nimble competitors.

COMMUNICATE WELL AND OFTEN
The knock on remote work is that you don’t get those chats over coffee and cohesive culture. To replicate that you need to make sure you’re visible on Slack, have an open door (messaging) strategy and make use of video conferencing. This communication theme is easier said than done but it needs to be emphasized. Open office hours via video conferencing may be worth a try so your remote team can get adjusted. Also keep in mind that you’re never going to be able to communicate enough so aim for continuous improvement.

USE VOICE, VIDEO AND THEN WRITTEN FOLLOW-UPS
Face-to-face meetings should usually have a written follow-up so there’s a record and less confusion. With a remote team, this best practice is even more important. You have to work harder to make sure people are on the same page.

USE ALL THE TOOLS AT YOUR DISPOSAL BUT REMEMBER QUALITY NOT QUANTITY
Most enterprises have a handful of video conferencing tools, team management platforms and chat apps. Pick the ones that work and go with them. YAT (yet another tool) is a curse for remote workforces. It is best to use the collaboration tools that folks are using already. Collaboration doesn’t have to be fancy.

THINK AHEAD – HOW THIS EXPERIENCE WILL CHANGE YOUR WORK PRACTICES IN THE FUTURE
After some growing pains, it’s likely that you’ll find your team happier and more productive. Pay attention and think through how the future of work for your team needs to evolve. Enterprises are likely to use this novel coronavirus crisis as a big A/B test for expenses ranging from sales and marketing to travel to commercial real estate holdings. The old way of doing things may not make sense in the future.

Source:expat.com

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Which countries are luring expats with visas?

While many countries are playing it safe regarding their border closures, others are currently introducing new visas to attract visitors and expats, skilled professionals in particular. The United Kingdom has just announced a new visa for healthcare professionals from August 2020. Canada is also coming up with a new bill along the same lines.

The UK wants to attract more foreign professionals and students
With the new Health and Care Visa, the British government is looking to improve its healthcare system. This visa mainly aims at attracting the best health professionals from around the world and allowing them to join the National Health Service (NHS) network rapidly, including in social healthcare. Fees applicable to this new visa are lower compared to Tier 3 visas intended for highly qualified professionals. Also, applicants are exempt from the Immigration Health Surcharge. The government points out that Health and Care Visa applications will be processed within 3 weeks following receipt of biometric data from applicants. Those who are not eligible can still request the refund of the Immigration Health Surcharge provided that payment has been made by March 31st, 2020. The UK government has granted an additional fund of £ 1.5 billion to the healthcare sector to address the labour shortage.

The UK immigration and visa policy are also subject to changes that will take effect at the end of the Brexit transition period, that is, from January 1st, 2021. This point system applies to healthcare workers, skilled workers, young graduates as well as international students coming from the European Union and third countries. To qualify and benefit from the same rights as Britons, foreign professionals must obtain at least 50 points after securing a job offer that is on the eligible professions list. Qualified professionals should have level RQF3 or higher skills, have a good command of English and earn a salary of at least £ 25,600. However, there are exceptions for those earning less but more than £ 20,480.

Besides, the Global Talent Scheme will be accessible to nationals of the EU, the European Economic Area, the Swiss, as well as highly qualified scientists and researchers even if they haven’t secured a job yet. A new pathway will also be available to students graduating in the UK from summer 2021. They will be authorised to work in the UK or to look for a job for 2 years or 3 if they have a PhD.

Canada: strengthening the health sector
Although Canada is not likely to reach its target of welcoming more than 340,000 expatriates this year – owing the sharp drop in immigration rate to the COVID-19 crisis – the country still has wants to attract more foreign professionals. The Canadian government is looking to grant permanent residence to asylum seekers who are currently working in the health sector. This bill will soon be brought to parliament as a sign of recognition for the contribution of asylum seekers to the fight against the pandemic and to the Canadian economy.

The world’s first digital nomad visa
With the evolution of technology, digital nomadism is becoming increasingly popular around the world. The COVID-19 crisis has also forced thousands of employees in most countries to work from home during the lockdown. According to data from Global Workplace Analytics, nearly 30% of the global workforce could have to work remotely several days a week by 2021. What if you could also work remotely?

Estonia took a revolutionary step by launching the world’s first digital nomad visa. This visa is valid for one year and should allow employees and freelancers to work remotely while taking advantage of the country’s mild climate and pleasant environment. With this new visa, Estonia aims at attracting at least 2,000 digital nomads, especially those from non-EU countries. It’s worth noting that Estonia has been facing a brain drain for the past few years and is now focusing on young entrepreneurs.

If you have always dreamed of living and working on a remote island, Barbados, located in the Caribbean Sea, is another interesting option. The Barbados Welcome Stamp, which will soon be launched, is a 1-year visa intended for digital nomads. Holders of this visa will also be allowed to work in Barbados from abroad for 12 months.

Russia: relaunching tourism in 2021
While Russia plans to keep its borders closed until further notice, the government is currently reviewing its visa policy, especially regarding tourism. As of January 1st, 2021, nationals of 53 countries will be eligible for a single-entry tourist visa with a 16-days duration. This electronic visa will be free of charge for children and comes with a fee of around $ 50 per adult. The application can be made online, on the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs website, and will be processed within 4 days.

Egypt has also introduced an electronic visa system for visitors. Applicants from eligible countries no longer have to go to an embassy to apply for a visa. Egypt reopened its borders on July 1st, 2020, taking all necessary measures to prevent a second wave of COVID-19.

Article translated from Quels pays proposent de nouveaux visas pendant la crise ?

Source: expat.com

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The Key To A Stress Free Life As An Expat

Jerry Nelson is an American expat writing his way through life in Buenos Aires, Argentina. This week, he tells us a little about the challenges he has faced as an expat and how he has dealt with them. Transport, shopping, language… Argentinian punctuality (or lack thereof!). Here are his keys to living a stress-free expat life!

My editor gave me a challenge. Write a piece about the 5 greatest challenges I’ve faced as an Expat in Argentina.

Simple enough assignment, right? Then why did it take me 4 days, 3 rewrites, and multiple cups of coffee to come up with a post with which I was happy?

Easy. There is a key to leading a stress-free life as an Expat — anywhere. A person doesn’t even need to be an Expat. The solution works even on the Crosstown Express when it’s crowded and running late.

The rebuttal to stress, anxiety and frayed nerves works in every aspect of life, but in keeping with the assignment, let’s look at 3 areas:

Transportation,
Shopping, and
Language
Transportation
Just how do you get from here to there? A bicycle is always an option, but only for relatively short distances. In Buenos Aires, where traffic lights and white lines are only a suggestion, bike riding can be a contact sport making it hazardous.

Not speaking the language makes taking public transportation challenging. If you can’t read the signs, it’s hard to tell exactly where to get off. Maps are available and the ones here are written well and in such a way that figuring out what bus line to take is made easier.

For me, taxis are the easiest solution anytime I leave the barrio. I just have to make sure to write the address down before I leave home. The cab drivers can read my writing, but they can’t understand my ‘foreign’ dialect.

There are shortcuts though, it just took a while to figure them all out.

The subway is my favorite though. The ‘subte’ can only go two directions — back and forth. The choices are easy and with a light-encoded map which displays the next stop, everything is a piece of cake.

But when you get off the subway at the destination, it’s back to trying to figure out which way to turn next.

Shopping
Life in Buenos Aires in 2020 is kind of like living in the 1960s Brooklyn. Everything is a specialty store and there isn’t a ‘big box’ store near.

If you want meat, go to the butcher. Looking for fresh bread? The baker is just around the corner. Looking for men’s shoes? The men’s shoe store has a wonderful selection, but if you want a pair of women’s shoes as a gift, the lady’s shoe store is around the corner. No challenge here.

Language
I still don’t speak Spanish. I know enough words to be able to ask where the bathroom is, but not enough to find the ketchup in the “mercado”.. Yes, there are limits to this manner, but between polishing my pantomime skills and blending them with the few words I know, I can get by.

But even pantomime only goes so far and it can get embarrassing to pantomime “where’s the bathroom”, especially if it’s an emergency.

But still, Argentines are friendly and understand and appreciate even the smallest, weakest attempt to learn the language.

Homesick
When it’s time to start missing the home country, 2020 is the best year to do it. Between relatively inexpensive long distance, Skype, Zoom and tk, it’s easy to stay in touch with the folks ‘back home’.

Weekly phone calls to talk with parents or children are cheap and most kioskas, or small convenience store type outlets sell compatible SIM cards.

Don’t expect magazine subscriptions from home to make it through customs on a regular basis. The men and women in the dark blue sports jackets grab those as soon as the periodicals hit the city.

Give up the need to control
Stress and anxiety in addition to frustration and anger tend to stem from unresolved control issues. Someone, or something, doesn’t behave the way you want. The result is more frustration, stress and anxiety.

As a 30+ year member of Alcoholics Anonymous, a line from the Serenity Prayer sums it up for me. “Accept the things I cannot change…”.

The short version? Screw it.

If you can’t change it, screw it. The world doesn’t march to the beat of my drum. No amount of foot-stomping will change that.

Need to… ? Mañana
Okay. Maybe there is this one thing that it is difficult to deal with!

“mañana”. It seems to be Argentina’s answer to everything.

Need the WIFI connection fixed? mañana.

Need tickets to America? mañana.

The laid back atmosphere of Latin America helps to make sure that nothing gets done on time. But that may be a good thing.

Unlike America, where everything is ‘rush and do it now,’ Latin America has not angered every single decent country on the planet.

Close kin
A close cousin of “Mañana”, is punctuality. There is none. Anywhere.

Invited to a party at a friend’s house to begin at 8pm? Don’t even bother showing up before 9:15. If you do, you’ll be the only guest there and will need entertain yourself, in the living room, looking for something to do.

Either that or ask your host if you can help. And then ask every ten minutes because it’s better to be a nuisance than a lump sitting on the love seat, taking up space, until the party starts — maybe mañana.

Shopping? Ignore the hours posted on the door. If the sign says the store will open at 9am, that’s not for you. That’s for the employees. The workers are expected to be there at nine and begin preparing for that day’s work. Basically, you won’t get in until 9:45. Deal with it and welcome to Argentina Time.

Source : expat.com

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The post-COVID-19 cost of living on the rise around the world

While the health crisis and the subsequent economic crisis have caused prices across the world to rise, different countries have found different ways to deal with this phenomenon. In Abu Dhabi, for example, authorities are investing massively in the agro-industry to boost local food production. Sweden and the Netherlands have also been the least affected by the rise in prices while in Saudi Arabia, the VAT has been increased to 15%.

The UAE wants to cut down the cost of living
Abu Dhabi will mostly rely on foreign talent to boost its economy after the crisis. Today, the expat exodus affecting Middle East countries is having a direct impact on their economy. The United Arab Emirates have therefore decided to bet on an affordable cost of living to attract more professionals in the near future. Local authorities are considering the slashing down of prices relating to education, accommodation and entertainment. In addition, they are planning to inject funds into research and innovation in the agro-industry. A budget of $ 100 million has already been earmarked for companies looking to build vertical farms.

It’s worth noting that expensive cities, such as Dubaï and Abu Dhabi, drop down to the 23rd and 39th places respectively in the latest Mercer Cost of Living Ranking.

Hong Kong is the world’s most expensive city in 2020
According to the Mercer report, Hong Kong is now the world’s most expensive city for expats. Surprisingly this year, Ashgabat, the capital of Turkmenistan, comes in second, followed by the legendary Tokyo, Zurich, Singapore, New York, Shanghai, Bern, Geneva and Beijing. Note that the ranking takes into account the prices of more than 200 products and services, including rent, transport, leisure and food, in 400 cities around the world. On the other hand, Tashkent, Bishkek, Windhoek and Tunis are some of the world’s cheapest cities.

Cairo, ranked 126th, is cheaper than Tel Aviv, for example. In Africa, meanwhile, Ndjamena, the capital of Chad, retains attention, while Tunis remains cheaper compared to other major cities.

Europe looks more affordable for expats, mainly because of the eurozone crisis that Italy and France have been facing since the end of 2019. Paris, Milan, as well as Frankfurt, are also much cheaper, according to the report. London, ranking 19th, remains in the top 20 most expensive cities despite the Brexit.

In the Americas, New York remains the most expensive city, followed by San Francisco and Los Angeles. Ottawa, Toronto and Vancouver became more affordable in the past year, like San Juan, San José and Montevideo in South America.

Sweden and the Netherlands the least affected by price changes
According to a recent survey by Ipsos, the prices of food, products and services increased significantly in more than 20 countries during the COVID-19 crisis. Argentina, South Africa, Mexico, Turkey, Chile and Belgium are the countries with the highest rises. Overall, more than half of the respondents believe that the prices of food, groceries and household supplies have increased in recent months.

Most respondents in Turkey, Chile and Malaysia also agree that the utility bills, including water, electricity, heating, air conditioning and telecommunication services, have skyrocketed during the COVID-19 crisis. An increase in the prices of hygiene, health care and leisure products and services was also noted in these countries. On the other hand, one in four respondents in Hungary and South Korea has seen a price drop since the beginning of the crisis. Many respondents in Japan and Russia also feel this way.

In Sweden and the Netherlands, however, nearly half of the respondents believe that prices have remained unchanged — which suggests that the economic impact of the crisis was mitigated.

Rising prices in Saudi Arabia with a 15% VAT
Various factors account for the rising prices in many countries. However, most people agree that they were compelled to buy more expensive products due to a shortage in the supply of products they are used to. Add to that the cost of delivery during the lockdown when businesses were closed, and people weren’t allowed to move around. It’s also worth noting that isolation and remote work during the lockdown resulted in higher electricity bills.

In Saudi Arabia, the value-added tax (VAT) on all products and services rises from 5% to 15%. This came as a blow for the whole population, including expats who are currently facing a salary cut.

What you should expect after the crisis
The COVID-19 crisis will obviously have a long-term impact on the global real estate market. Taking into account current border and travel restrictions and the slowdown of immigration, property prices are dropping quickly, even in countries like Australia, the United Kingdom and the United Arab Emirates. Since the supply looks greater than the demand, governments are providing property investment incentives. Some of these measures are low-interest rates on bank loans, cutting down of service fees, etc. The UK, for its part, is slashing down stamp duty so that young people get the chance to become homeowners. However, the situation is likely to change soon, taking into account the gradual lifting of border restrictions. In many countries, property prices have started rising.

The Netherlands seems to be the only country with a profitable real estate market during the COVID-19 crisis. In fact, an 8.8% price increase in prices was noted during the past few months. The Netherlands has one of Europe’s most in-demand real estate markets. In 2019, the Dutch government implemented measures to increase the number of constructions in major cities in order to meet the growing demand. Currently, a property in the Netherlands costs $ 380,000 on average. In France also, the prices of new homes in big cities like Paris, Marseille, Lyon and Toulouse remained stable during the crisis. On average, prices range from 361,400 euros for a studio to 785,600 euros for a 3-room apartment.

Sources :Reuters.com

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Post-crisis: Study finds expats now prioritise health and well-being

A study by Allianz Care found that financial priorities of 52% of expats interviewed had changed as a result of the crisis. More than half of them stated that health and well-being was now a priority for them. Family also weighs more in the balance these days, expats say.

The COVID-19 and its resulting health and economic crisis has sure changed the way we see life. The unprecedented lockdown, closure of borders and halt to almost all economic activity will definitely cause shifts in our way of life for the years to come. How will this crisis impact expat choices? Already, an Expat.com survey found that 38% of expats were planning to head home after the crisis. Another study by Allianz Care has only just found that expat financial priorities had also changed following the crisis. Indeed, 52% reported having seen a shift in their priorities because of the crisis and 53% of these explained that they would be spending more on health and well-being now than they did before the COVID-19 crisis. The news was reported by the news outlet, International Investment.

“2020 has been a life-changing year for many of us across the world as we deal with the implications of COVID-19. Massive lifestyle changes have forced on us almost overnight, which in turn have forced us to re-assess how we live our lives and re-evaluate what’s truly important. The same is absolutely true for expats who are living and working across the globe. This comes across strongly in the increasing prioritisation of health and family”, said Paula Covey, chief marketing officer for health at Allianz Partners to International Investment.

Other than that, the survey also found that the profile of the “expat” is slowly changing. While in past surveys, Allianz Care tended to find that most expats moved abroad temporarily on work assignments and for high pay positions, it seems to be changing. Indeed, expats seem to have a higher interest in finding long term work abroad. Paula Covey mentioned that 76% of expats mentioned having changed jobs since living abroad and 58% were planning to remain in their country long-term. A study by Expat.com had also found last year that only 35% of 3, 500 expats had plans to return home at the time of their expatriation.

Expats mainly living in the United Kingdom, Canada, the United Arab Emirates and Singapore were surveyed. Most of them, 49%, mentioned they had initially moved abroad in search of better pay and financial benefits. For others, it was the search for a better quality of life that led them to move abroad. 71% of respondents had moved abroad with their families.

Source: expat.com

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Boston Fed says Main Street program now ‘fully operational’ and ready to purchase loans

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The Federal Reserve Bank of Boston said on Monday the Main Street Lending Program is now fully operational and ready to purchase eligible loans.

The Main Street lending facility, which opened for lender registration in mid-June, is meant to extend easy credit to small and mid-sized businesses that cannot get it elsewhere.

The Fed encouraged registered lenders to start submitting qualifying loans. The U.S. central bank also announced it intends to publish a state-by-state listing of registered lenders that are accepting new business customers under the program and that choose to be listed.

Lenders had still not made any loans under the program as of July 1, according to data released by the Fed last week.

Large financial institutions that work closely with the Fed, known as primary dealers, slashed in half their expectations for how much take-up they expect from the Main Street lending program, according to a survey released last week by the New York Fed.

It is not entirely clear why the loans have not drawn more interest. When the Fed first proposed it, staff worked urgently on standing it up as thousands of letters poured in with suggestions for how to make it more useful and questions about where to find participating lenders.

source: reuters.com