My Journey to a new business in Denmark
A Setback was the Opportunity...
Text: Laura Wintemute
After many successful years employed at a major global relocation company, I found myself out of work due to cutbacks. At an age when most people are in what they believe to be their permanent ‘forever’ occupation, I was back on the market in search of a new beginning. That whole scary process of creating a CV, searching for job openings, networking, and booking interviews began. Then hoping to secure employment where I could feel useful and productive and make a decent living, well, that is just plain terrifying at the age of 42. As I’m a ‘cup half full’ sort of woman, I decided to go for it. Could I have the autonomy, do something I was passionate about and make money? Entrepreneurship seemed the logical way to go.
The company I created was the answer. Inclusion and comfort, support, and community. This is what Homestead offers.
I’d been self-employed in the past during my time living in the Cayman Islands, and I loved it. I was successful there, so what hurdles would I need to conquer in Denmark to do the same thing? I learned quickly that the practical side of starting up a business in Denmark was easy. CVR numbers and registrations, concept, and branding was fun and easy to implement. What I didn’t take into consideration at the time, was what ultimately is the key to starting a business. THE MARKET. Was there an actual market for what I wanted to do here in Denmark? I believed in my whole being that there was. Now I just had to convince everyone else. Change is hard, it’s excruciating for many. I embrace it. I love it. I needed to convince a very resistant sector that the change I wanted to implement as necessary. So necessary if Denmark wants to continue to live up to the reputation of being one of the greatest countries in the world to live in, even if you aren’t Danish.
The company I created was the answer. Inclusion and comfort, support, and community. This is what Homestead offers. These are the ‘soft topics’ in the relocation industry that to date have been met with resistance. All the missing pieces from the purview of the current experts in Global Relocation. Companies typically cut costs in those areas, which I found to be the most important. I saw the gap between attraction and retention, and I needed to figure out how to convince companies who were bringing international hires to Denmark, that this “soft” topic was the answer to a successful relocation of their international employees. Why didn’t these companies see what I saw?
Then everything changed. The Expat Insider 2019 rated Denmark as one of the worst countries to be an expat in (again). Finally, companies started to feel the pain. Attracting Internationals is not as easy as it had been in the past. The negative press was felt where it counted. Their pocketbook.
Networking & Collaborating
I spent the first year and a half drinking café lattes and networking with business owners, Human Resource Departments, International schools, and Municipalities. I shared my philosophy and vision with anyone and everyone I met. The consensus was that my idea was needed and necessary, yet I was met with a hard-wired hesitation.
Fast forward two years, and you may have seen me on the National Danish TV News, sharing my story. I was recently a guest on a podcast with Coping in Copenhagen, discussing the difficulties expatriates face when moving to Denmark and why. I’ve attended events as a keynote speaker at the American Embassy, Copenhagen’s University, and the Odense municipality, all focusing on the ‘soft side’ of relocation.
September of this year, I decided to take my Homestead collaborations to the next level. Today, we are a large group of local professional entrepreneurs, all working with International hires, covering every aspect of relocation and transition.
This collaboration of like mindsets in our new shared office space has provided us with the opportunity to co-create Denmark’s newest, much-needed gem, the International Headquarters.