How to Move to Italy and Start an Online Business with Sif Traustadottir
Does living in Italy and making money through an online business sound like a dream to you? It did for Sif Traustadorrir, until she decided to quit her job and make that dream become reality.
When Sif was back in Iceland, she owned part of a veterinary clinic. “It was always my dream to have a veterinary clinic. I had been working as a vet for 12 years.” However, working in the clinic was also very physically demanding. Sif noticed getting tired and little signs of burnout showing up. Adding to her workload, Sif had been in a car crash and is suffering from chronic back pain ever since. “I knew it was time for a change.”
She decided to take a break and travel through Europe for six months to get her energy back. But when she had been away for a few months, she sensed a strong feeling that she didn’t want to return to Iceland. That’s when she decided to take a leap. “I sold my clinic and quit my job.”
Turing Into an Online Vet
if knew she wanted to live in Italy, but she also realized that it would be almost impossible for her to find a job as a vet. “My Italian is very basic, I wouldn’t have been able to communicate properly with my clients. Also, there’s a lot of vets in Italy already.” Then it came to her: She could take her business online. “Having an online job gives you freedom. If I wanted to go back to Iceland at some point, I could just take my business with me.” But how could she be an online-vet?
Sif did some research and saw lots of people taking their businesses online. They were people from all kinds of walks of life, not just business coaches. “I realized that I could reach a lot more people if I went online. In the clinic, I had been doing behavior consultations and teaching dog owners about health and training. People would bring their dogs, but the consultation really was directed at the owners, because they have to do the training. I thought I might as well do this online.”
Italy wasn’t the easiest choice to start a new life. There’s the infamous Italian bureaucracy, and starting out as an entrepreneur, Sif didn’t yet make a lot of money with her online business. “I’ve heard that a lot of people move to an Asian country because the cost of living is much lower there. But I just wanted to be in Italy.”
Sif had been drawn to Italy since she was a child. “Probably because I’m a big fan of food, and food is great in Italy,” she says. When she went there on a holiday in 2008, that was it for her – she kept coming back. “I continued to travel to other places, but I always felt at home in Rome. It’s nothing like Iceland, but it somehow spoke to me.”
To afford living there, Sif had to come up with creative solutions. “I had taken a risky strategy, quitting my job before my online business was well established. So I decided to live in a camper. That also allowed me to move around and see many different places in Italy. Then I sold the camper and started to do house sitting.” This allowed Sif to save the cost of paying rent while she was gradually building up her business.
Finding a Home
While she was house sitting in Umbria, she saw an ad with a house for sale. It was in the countryside outside of Rome, and more out of curiosity, she decided to go have a look. “I was driving along winding streets and through olive grooves. Then there was a turn in the road and the view opened up. I saw this tiny village, it looked like in a fairytale. And I thought: This is my village.”
It turned out to be the perfect home for Sif and her little dog, Suna. The house was 500 years old but renovated on the inside. “The kitchen was from IKEA – perfect for a Scandinavian woman!” Of course, there was a lot of paperwork to be dealt with before she could move in. But when it eventually happened, Sif was sure she had made the right decision.
“It’s been so nice staying here while building my business. The village is gorgeous and it’s so quiet.” So quiet that sometimes, even the internet connection abandons her. “That’s why I rent an office in Rome, so when I need to upload big files I go there.”
Sif started to put everything into her business. “I did a master class and paid online webinars. I added courses and they turned out to be quite successful, but I couldn’t charge the amount business coaches do for their courses. My clients prefer lower priced products.” Sif came up with the idea to create a membership site, and that’s when things started clicking into place. “People were really receptive!” She’s not charging a high price, but a good number of people signed up, which now gives her a steady monthly income. “I don’t have to worry about the feast and famine roller coaster that can happen when you put high priced courses out there.”
Sif already had an audience from her time working as a vet. “They were all in Iceland, and I even did a live event there with a meet up with lots of dog owners and their dogs. It was great to meet people face-to-face,” she remembers. But more and more English speaking friends asked her about her services, so she decided to run an English version of her business alongside the original Icelandic one. “Sometimes I wonder if I should have started in English to begin with, but now I actually think it was good to start in Icelandic. I already had an audience there and was known as a vet and for other work I had been doing in animal welfare.”
Of course this meant more work, but for Sif, it paid off. Throughout creating her online business, she had to be creative and resourceful, both in her professional and her private life. It has definitely been a journey – one that hasn’t ended yet. “Who knows, one day I might have my own TV show.”
- Episode 32: [Client Case Study] The Sales Funnel That Turns a 70% Profit Every Month with Sif the Vet
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