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The Web-enabled Entrepreneur - UK - 1
Mrs C came to the UK for education, in her case a Masters degree in public relations, an area little studied or practiced in her home country of Sweden. Mrs C had spent a high-school year in Australia on an exchange scheme and saw leaving Sweden to improve her education and employment prospects as a something that many of her classmates had done. Mrs C had excellent spoken and written English on arrival in the UK and also speaks fluent Danish and German. Mrs C did not plan initially to remain in the UK for more than two or three years after graduating, but when working in her first job met and married her husband, settling in the suburbs of a large Northern city.
For more than ten years Mrs C remained working within the conventional public relations setting, office based and as an employee. She returned to work full time after the birth of her first child, relying on a combination of family support and commercial childcare to help her manage work and her family. With the birth of her second child things carried on as before until her mother-in-law was taken ill, leaving her unable to help Mrs C with the childcare and then later, needing care herself before she sadly died. This left Mrs C with a choice, she and her husband could afford more childcare, but it would be commercially provided, or she could chose to rebalance her life so as to be there for her children when needed while also developing her own PR consultancy.
Mrs C has always been a network builder; she is still in touch with many friends from her time in Australia and people with whom she took her first degree and her Masters. She is not fond of virtual networks such as Linkedin, partly due to lack of familiarity with these, but makes much use of real networks, calling people to chat and emailing. Also, in the time since she graduated Swedish ways of doing business have been transformed into a model that is much more open to concepts such as public relations. As soon as Mrs C announced to her contacts that she was going to establish her own PR Consultancy an old contact offered her work with a Swedish/ Nordic link and that set things in motion.
As with other contributors to the ELIE project Mrs C commented that it was so easy set up her business. She just had to say she was in business and let the Inland Revenue know. This is not the case in Sweden, there is a level of bureaucracy that must be complied with and capital is essential to start any business, as is a business premises. Although Mrs C thinks that there are attempts to reduce the amount of paperwork required. In the case of Mrs C, she works from home and relies on the Internet. Indeed, she says that ten years ago it would not have been possible to work with the companies in the Nordic region where she has many of her contracts without having been based there. Now, she says, it does not matter where she is based, the Internet allows her to manage her work from anywhere.
Mrs C says entrepreneurship has allowed her to develop her own portfolio of work, which plays to her strengths while also giving her the space she needs for a balanced life. She can stop working and take the children to activities, start working again once they are in bed. She can turn down work if she wishes and can also take on additional work by then using the services of other free-lancers if necessary. Mrs C said her greatest worry about going alone was that she would miss the office companionship and would not have enough work; neither of these fears was justified. She finds instead that she is happier as there is no need to worry about whom will collect the children while at the same time she is her own boss and can direct her pace of work herself.