Content marketing and the meaningful engagement of customers online is her passion – Lydia Nicoll. After working in PR, advocacy, and with startups in the US, her home country, she returned to the Oresund region last autumn. She had previously lived here briefly in 2014, first coming from China where she worked in education. Through her marketing agency Natively, she is taking on the Swedish market. At Natively, Lydia and her partners focus on inbound methodology as opposed to traditional marketing methods. Öresundstartups met her recently for a talk about her experiences as an expat in Sweden, differences between the start-up communities in the Öresund region and the US, and what personal and business tips she has for entrepreneurs interested in start-ups.

Getting into the start-up scene in a foreign country

Lydia Nicoll sees both the US and Sweden as friendly environments to start new businesses in. The mentality among new entrepreneurs and start-ups in the greater Copenhagen area is characterized by innovation and drive. The community spirit is strong as well. Her concern in the beginning about contacting and pitching her business to new clients as an expat vanished soon after she attended networking events and visited co-working spaces such as Mindpark in Helsingborg or MINC in Malmö:

“The big challenge was I didn’t quite know how to approach new clients. However, I quickly found out that networking at co-working spaces and events is great here. People are extremely helpful, introducing me to other people right away if they couldn’t help me further, so I got contract work quite quickly. It is amazing how fast it happened once I started talking to people”

She recommends researching opportunities available for internationals who are looking for guidance and help with the bureaucratic process of starting a business in the region. For example, the Swedish governmental agency Almi offers free services for foreign or newly arrived entrepreneurs in Sweden:

“There are a lot of resources available for starting a business, especially for foreigners. Together with an adviser at Almi I filled in the paperwork for my company in Sweden in one day, right away at our first meeting. Don’t psych yourself out right away by fearing the paperwork and the processes. It isn’t actually as complicated as you may think!”

As a female entrepreneur, Lydia Nicoll feels that Sweden and the broader Öresund region are great places for women to push their ideas to the next level, since an open community for women already exists, with regular opportunities to network and exchange experiences in person.

“The start-up scene in the US can often feel a bit intimidating and more like a Boy’s Club. This can apply to Sweden too, since most of the time new businesses are in tech, an industry dominated by men. However, I feel that there are more initiatives here to help women break into entrepreneurship and technology. There are more opportunities to meet and connect with women who are interested in this lifestyle.”

Tips for start-ups from a business perspective

As an expert in content marketing, Lydia says that a common mistake start-ups make in the early stages is that they don’t have established guidelines for their brand and mission. It is crucial for businesses to document guiding values, “characteristics” of the business, and future target audiences, as it helps showcase the company’s overall strategy. It helps consumers know what values the business stands by, functioning not only as a marketing tool but as a way to hone in on the development of the product or service. Furthermore, new entrepreneurs often want to do everything on their own, which doesn’t always yield the best results. Reaching out for help and finding a mentor along the way gives you an opportunity to learn from the mistakes as well as the successes of others:

“For me, it laid the groundwork for what is possible for my business as it gives inspiration and reinforcement. If you are the smartest person in the room then you are in the wrong room”

On May 17th from 12.15 – 12.45 PM Lydia Nicoll will hold a Lunch Talk/ Workshop at Mindpark, Helsingborg about content marketing and creating a buyer persona in order to reach your target audience.