Who are you and what is your business?
British, aged 39 years and have been in Barcelona for almost 8 years.
www.kidsinbarcelona.com is an online city guide for resident families and visitors to Barcelona with children.
Where did the original idea come from?
As with anywhere, becoming a parent in Barcelona offers you a new perspective on life and your surroundings. I immediately needed information and advice that was not available, especially for a foreigner in the city. Providing an online resource for parents seemed like a logical solution. At first the website was aimed at residents adapting to Barcelona with children but it is now also a key source of information for tourists with kids as well as a way for family-orientated businesses to connect with parents in the city.
How long did it take to get your business off the ground?
About a year, but that was mainly as I had a newborn baby in tow. The existence of the Momprenuer is a real phenomen! A notable percentage of women who set up businesses apparently do so after becoming a mother for the first time. Needless to say, a lot of juggling took place but there was a huge motivation to work for myself, organise my own time and run my own show.
What do you wish you’d known when you started?
How differently business operates in Barcelona and how dealing with people face-to-face is still the preferred way. Decisions, in general, can be very time-consuming. When it comes to the web, many business owners are still learning about the potential of online communication.
How easy was it get the financing for your business?
Start-up business loans from your local bank are non-existent. You either need to keep start-up costs affordable or if you have the time to commit to the process, you may be fortunate enough to be offered micro-credits or other possible forms of financing through sources such as the public development agency, Barcelona Activa.
Did you find the paperwork difficult?
It is certainly a lot simpler to set up shop in the UK where most sole-owned businesses register their company themselves and handle the ongoing paper work. Most self-employed people and business owners here choose to leave legal, accounting and tax issues up to their gestor which is, by far, the most sensible option.
Did you get help from any particular official organisations or associations (e.g. Chambers of Commerce)?
The Chamber of Commerce usually requires you to be a member before you can benefit from the advice and resources that they have to offer. It would be wonderful if there were greater support for small start-up businesses for foreign-nationals.
What is your business experience / background / qualifications?
My working life began in marketing for well-known British “love-or-hate-them” food brands such as Ambrosia, Bovril and Marmite. I subsequently worked as an analyst for an investment bank in both London and New York. Barcelona has definitely provided me with a new direction!
What are the positive aspects about having a business here?
There is so much potential and lots of possibilities for improving upon the status quo. Barcelona is a city with very many opportunities yet unexplored.
And the negative aspects?
Everything works at a slower pace and it is not always possible to rely on assurances. Perhaps a good analogy would be the tale of the Hare and the Tortoise. Despite our immediate desire to race ahead, in Barcelona, tenacity and persistence always wins in the end.
Are there any other useful contacts, tips or information you think would be useful to other foreign entrepreneurs in Barcelona?
There is a tendancy for us to want to fill in the gaps by identifying a “missing” product or service here and then expecting to create a demand for it. Sometimes the demand just does not exist or operates on a whole different level. A better business solution might be to take an existing product or service and offer it in much more efficient way.