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Stella Vestmann from Iceland on her guided walks in Belgium
After moving to Belgium we received a lot of visits from family and friends, and I would take them downtown to see the city. Since following my husband here, I had been trying to figure out what I wanted to do. A friend pointed out that since I enjoy telling stories and sharing my knowledge, maybe others would like to go on a guided tour with me. That’s how the idea of Stellar Walks started. It´s my third time living here, so I use my own experience to convey why Belgium is an exciting place to live and visit.
It suited me to build a company around my knowledge, as I don’t like to take financial risks. I didn’t need any overhead or starting costs. I started by working from home on my old computer and read as much as I could about the country. I use an accountant as it would be bad management of my time to do otherwise.
I work with an Icelandic travel agency creating trips and guiding their groups. I also write articles on visiting Belgium for the largest Icelandic newspaper. Groups often have a tasting tour with me, so I collaborate with my favourite Belgian chocolatiers and historic bars. Currently my largest customer group is Icelandic, though I also guide in Swedish and English. I am now planning a new service with relocation offices that will include guiding recently arrived expats to learn about their new country and city.
In the spring, I joined the Library Group for two days a week. It’s a great co-working place, very charming and welcoming. I wanted more interaction and you gain information and knowledge that you didn’t know you needed. Working solo means I can be very flexible and that’s a big advantage. But it’s also easy to fall into constantly thinking that you should sit and work, create new things, be more proactive. I decided early on to keep a steady workflow, be consistent, but still allow myself to enjoy life and spend time with my family.
If I was to give any advice, it would be to reach out, tell people about your idea or your new business. There are so many people in the expat community who have been in your shoes. They will guide you in the right direction.
This article first appeared in ING Expat Time