I met Clarice Lin at the YouTube Space in London. She moved to Singapore to London and specialises in digital marketing.
When and why did you decide to move to the UK?
I moved here on 30 March 2010. I had this thought to move to a new country to have a fresh start, to get away from routine over the years. I felt that I wanted something different in life but I couldn’t quite figure that out yet. I applied for a UK two year working holiday visa in 2008 and I got it successfully. However due to the economic crisis at that time, I postponed the decision to move anywhere till in late 2009 when I revisited this after feeling stagnated at work. Because Singapore is half a world away and this was a very HUGE decision to make in my life, I took about four months to discuss and work on details with a friend before finally making the leap of faith.
My initial thought was to try to get a job here and then hopefully work out a life here. Non-EU folks don’t get automatic rights to work here so I needed a company to sponsor me to live in this country. When I found a job after sending over 100 CVs (yes, perseverance and determination and definitely bit of luck), I finally found a company that went through all the hoops to apply for a work visa for me.
What made you decide to start your own business?
I got tired of working for other people. I’ve been working for others for over 10 years and I always felt something wasn’t quite right. I wanted to grow more and the company culture didn’t allow that and I usually feel stifled in a job after about a year. Especially sometimes I put in a lot of effort for pieces of work that doesn’t get the recognition it deserved.
After working for 5 years in London, I knew working for companies was definitely not the way for me. Starting my own business was something I had thought about it before but I didn’t think it was going to happen that soon.
However, I definitely knew starting my own business required a lot of commitment and effort at the start that I knew I would be able to give. Because I would be working for myself and in the long term, I felt there would be more opportunities to grow if I am in the driver’s seat to decide how far I want to go.
These were the tipping point that pushed my decision: timing was good as the digital market was booming, I had a good co-founder and coupled with my own experience in analytics and digital marketing, I felt there wasn’t any better time than to start!
In the first year, there was a steep learning curve and there were loads of expectations, grasping in the dark some time and fitting in the pieces. Going into my second year into digital marketing, things are becoming clearer and we see how we can expand further. Our website can be found here: https://baselinelabs.com
What do you enjoy about being self-employed/freelancer?
Flexibility, creativity and making my own decisions 🙂 I decide when I want to do what, why I want to do what and how I want to do it !
In a way, Britain feels a lot more like Singapore than the other European countries.
How difficult is it to adjust to a new country?
Personally, the easiest part for me compared to others would be I speak the language, the structure (Singapore used to be a British colony so a lot of stuff here are quite similar to Singapore and also Singapore modelled quite a lot of stuff after Britain: street names, the build structure, the transport system). In a way, Britain feels a lot more like Singapore than the other European countries.
Difficult part: long application process at banks (Singapore is very fast and has quicker turnarounds), getting my monthly SIM card (that requires a credit score!), culture, catching the English accent especially those from the north, renting my first place (I used to live with my parents so I wasn’t sure how to rent a “good” place).
How easy was it to get a visa?
Singapore and UK had an existing agreement before to allow a two year working holiday visa. It involves working for one year max and travelling for another year. I believe it’s a Commonwealth agreement that UK has with quite a number of countries. Example. Australia. However, the program between Singapore and UK stopped in 2009. I was among the last batch so I would say I was very lucky.
My visa expired in Jan 2011 so I had to get a sponsored working visa (Tier 2 Skilled Migrant) by a British company here else I couldn’t continue to stay here. It was very difficult because it’s a point system that not everyone would have qualified. They rate you different points in different areas: my past salary, education level, age group, new salary, proficiency in English. Luckily in Singapore, our degrees are recognised here else I would have needed to take a English test. If you don’t score enough points, then you won’t be approved for the visa.
Also for the company to sponsor you, they need to have a license approved by the government to employed non-EU people. And there are limited licences given out to the companies every year.
What would you recommend to someone who is planning to start their own business or become a location-independent freelancer?
Do proper research beforehand. Check out successful role models, find out how to get on the same path as them. Engage in forums and FB groups. There are a lot of helpful people around who are willing to offer you ideas and advice. So keep your mind open to all kinds of possibilities.
Remember, Google is your best friend.
And if you still have any fear about starting your own business, I have this free eBook here to share: How To Overcome Any Fear.
I hope after reading this, you will overcome the fear of the unknown and will feel more motivated and excited to start on your journey.
What personality traits do you think are required to be a digital nomad?
Discipline, determination, open-mindedness, perseverance, resourcefulness or willingness to become resourceful, positivity and optimism (right mindset is very important because the journey can get a little lonely at times).