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Small Business Stories - Networking Through Storytelling

Connecting Business Owners and Entrepreneurs in the Netherlands

Me at the top of my favorite mountain back home, Matanuska Peak. Endless opportunites ahead of me.

Ever felt alone while building your business?

I know I have.

I moved to the Netherlands in 2021 with the goal of starting a business and finally putting down some roots. Why the Netherlands? I'll get to that in a bit. My first year here was a whirlwind of getting my business affairs in order, establishing my systems, and finding clients. I had a small amount of savings to carry me for a few months and emotional support from my sister and partner, but otherwise, I was flying solo. This worked fine for the first year, but as the dust settled and I found myself more established, I realized I was missing something crucial: a network. If you just read the word "network" and cringed, that's ok. A year ago I would have too. For me, the word "networking" conjured up images of people standing under fluorescent lights, wearing stiff office clothes, clutching liquid courage in flimsy plastic cups, and laughing at a baseball joke told by that-person-from-that-accounting-firm-I-can't-remember-the-name-of. A harsh assessment of networking, I know. But one cool thing I've learned in the last year is that you can build a network in whatever way suits you best. However, no matter how you choose to build your network, it's important to have one. Especially if you are a small business owner.

But how to start?

For you, that could look like attending in-person networking events in your area (they're not all terrible, so I've been told), commenting and connecting on platforms like LinkedIn, or collaborating with other small business owners on projects. I spent quite some time trying to figure out how to connect with other business owners in a way that felt right for me. There were some key things I knew I wanted. I wanted to connect with small business owners here in the Netherlands. This is just to start, but I think having access to a network that is physically near can offer a lot.

You can meet for a coffee if you're in need of a chat or a vent or to offer support. You can keep each other in the loop about local community events and volunteer opportunities. You both understand the nuances and tricky bits of navigating business ownership in your unique country or city. I also figured that I wasn't the only person out there starting a business alone with basically no clue if what I was doing was "right". There's a lot of noise online offering advice and telling you what to do and what not to do. While some of it is helpful, there's nothing quite as cathartic as having an actual conversation with someone who understands what you are going through. So, Small Business Stories was born.

A quick stop back in Hawaii on my way to tour Southeast Asia and Australia

Small Business Stories: Connecting Business Owners and Entrepreneurs in the Netherlands

I love stories. It's probably one of the reasons I love being an editor.

I love hearing about people's experiences, and I'm infinitely curious to know the thought processes behind their decisions and how they feel about the outcomes.

I'm sure you do too.

So, I'm reaching out to other small business owners here in the Netherlands to hear their stories. We're discussing interesting questions such as what they wished they would have known when they were younger, what they love about connecting with clients, and how they would describe their business in five words. To keep people even more connected, each person interviewed leaves a question for the next person. One of my favorites so far comes from Business and Marketing Mentor Stephanie Ward of Firefly Coaching:

How would the world look different if you were able to reach more people with the work you do?

This question has been rolling around in my head for a week now, and I love it.

My last day in South Korea before the Netherlands.

Are you a small business owner in the Netherlands?

I want to hear your story! To schedule an interview, you can email me at I'm currently working on outlining and structuring the first few interviews and plan to launch the series around the start of the new year. I'm infinitely grateful to the individuals who volunteered to be some of the first to be interviewed. This is a new process for me, and like many new things, it will take some time before it's perfect. But I love the process of learning, and am excited that you're here for the journey!

My Story: From Alaska to Switzerland, Hawaii to Chicago, and South Korea to the Netherlands

Still waiting for me to explain how I ended up here? My story is best told with some props (anyone have a globe handy?) But I'll do my best to lay it out in print for you. You can read my Small Business Story here soon. If you have some questions in the meantime, send me a message on LinkedIn or shoot me an email, I'm happy to connect! Ciera

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