Another month, another feature 😉 We’re back with yet another inspiring story in our “Entrepreneur of the Month” series – a series where we present extraordinary stories of women across the globe to inspire, motivate, and provide insightful information to our audience. So, keeping the tradition alive, I am super excited to share the journey of Vena with you all!
Vena calls herself an Onlinepreneur Legal Strategist™ and is the founder of Legally She Can, a platform that helps women service-based business owners remove legal barriers that prevent them from getting clients worldwide and create a business that supports their dream life.
I feel super proud to share Vena’s journey on this platform as she too, has a special corner in her heart for women-led ventures (just like My Swiss Story)
Read on as she shares her journey of how she decided to relearn everything and taught herself the ropes of legalities in online business – an idea that skyrocketed post-Covid!
Please tell our readers a little bit about yourself
Hello there, I am Vena, born and raised in the Philippines. I called many cities home until I finally settled in Zurich, Switzerland.
Staying in Switzerland was not my original plan. I initially left the Philippines to finish my Master’s Degree in Law in the Netherlands. I planned to return to Manila, where I worked as a business lawyer and immigration consultant. After finishing the degree in the Netherlands, I was offered a scholarship in Geneva to do an Advanced Master’s Degree in Law, which led to a job.
Amidst all these, I found the love of my life, Thomas, a Swedish who works as a software engineer in Zurich. Today we are a family of four – we have a daughter who just entered the second year of Kindergarten and a 15-year-old feline son, our eldest child.
Tell us about your current business. How did you become an Onlinepreneur?
I am the Onlinepreneur Legal Strategist™ of Legally She Can, a platform that helps women service-based business owners remove legal barriers that prevent them from getting clients worldwide and create a business that supports their dream life.
In this role, I support coaches, freelancers, experts, and digital course creators around the world by decoding online business – from having a legally compliant website, drafting legal contracts, creating email lists, making digital courses, to protecting their trademarks, and everything in between.
I combine my legal knowledge and online entrepreneurial experience because, as I have learned, you need more than one if you truly desire to be a successful business owner. You can learn more about me and my work on my website HERE
Aside from my digital paid programs and done-for-you services, I give free legal and entrepreneurial information through different platforms.
Every week, I release a new episode of the Legally Fluent® Podcast, where I share tips, strategies, insider insights, and inspiring stories, prompting you to take action. The episodes are all under 15 minutes – I respect my listener’s time, and I don’t like the fluff either!
And finally, I created a Free Legal E-Map Checklist which provides a list of things you need to accomplish to set up a business that attracts leads and sales worldwide. Click HERE to access.
Image Credits: Kati Schneider Photography
Tell us your story, how did you come up with this idea?
After getting married, I didn’t settle in Zurich yet. I continued commuting Zurich-Geneva every day and found that this lifestyle was not sustainable if we were to have kids. So, I decided to permanently stay in Zurich. Working from home was not yet the norm then and I was determined to be more present in my child’s life without losing financial independence.
I thought: I am a business lawyer who has advised business owners for years. Surely, running a business can’t be that difficult! I dived in and created a product-based business, which is still existing up to this date. The business was profitable.
However, my first brush with entrepreneurship made me realize how inadequate my entrepreneurial knowledge and skills were. I felt so overwhelmed that I thought of outsourcing everything, even my business legalities! It was embarrassing! I know how business laws work, but reading it in German was a different challenge altogether.
I also realized that the business legalities I knew, and most lawyers are trained for are either for brick-and-mortar businesses or big corporations. Online business legalities, especially for small business owners, are a different ballgame altogether, and it is constantly evolving! Most of it is NOT taught in law school. And so, I had to re-learn everything. I took courses while also teaching myself the ropes of online business. It was chaotic but doable! Unfortunately, at the expense of a very important capital, time.
Amidst all these, I found myself answering legal queries from fellow business owners who knew my background about their business legalities. I got tired of repeating myself, so during COVID-19, when the popularity of webinars skyrocketed, I decided to host free training on how to start an online business in Switzerland. There was a huge demand, and I found myself holding webinars monthly!
Image Credits: Kati Schneider Photography
Those events made me realize that many women business owners need business and legal support, and the problems they faced were the same ones I faced when I was a new business owner.
One issue, of course, is the high legal costs. Thus, they would research their business legalities, blind, or use free or cheap templates they can find on the Internet – – Not realizing that the endless research costs them so much more in terms of valuable time than paying a lawyer instead. And those free or cheap templates they are using will only expose them to more risks which can lead to costly litigation or penalties.
That is why I created two programs —
- Legally Fluent® Website Compliance Program, a 7-day program where my students get to draft their website legal policies through my guidance
- Legally Fluent® Academy, a 12-week program where I mentor my students on how to set up their legal foundations and leverage these to create a system that will allow them to attract leads, convert, and nurture them into paying clients.
Part of the system is setting up a legally compliant website, having effective contracts, and protecting their trademarks and copyrights, which are necessary to get clients worldwide. The goal of these programs is simple: self-reliance which breeds confidence and security.
I’ve had clients and students who have been running their businesses for years but cannot expand because they just copied their contracts from somewhere or their websites lack the proper legal policies. So, they hide and remain small.
I support women worldwide, but having Switzerland-based expatriate clients allowed me to think outside the box. Back in the Philippines, I would just have done what everyone in my profession is doing – providing traditional legal services. Working with expatriate one-woman-owned businesses with a global audience requires a different type of legal professional – one that marries legal, entrepreneurship, and, yes, even tech.
I am quite lucky that my husband, a.k.a my tech expert, also supports me in this venture.
On a more personal note, the somewhat traditional Swiss culture allowed me to work from home and be fully present in the lives of my child and my husband.
I never missed a milestone – and for a lawyer, that is a huge achievement, given that the “normal” for our profession is spending most of our waking time in a stressful environment outside our homes.
Image Credits: Kati Schneider Photography
What is a day like “in your heels?”
I’ve been working from home before COVID-19, so it has been years since I ditched the tortuous heels for a more comfortable Finken!
My morning starts with me waking up to my husband preparing breakfast. I would take over and prepare our child for school. I value calm mornings because I particularly hated the morning rush I was accustomed to in the Philippines.
At around 8:00, I would start listening to a podcast in Deutsch, which is the most exposure to Hoch Deutsch I have, considering that I am surrounded by English speakers.
This will be followed by a review of my day and a call with my VA, who lives in a different time zone. I like doing the harder stuff in the morning, including answering emails. I also usually schedule one-on-one Strategy and Clarity Calls before 11:45.
From 11:45 onwards, it is family time. I would walk in our courtyard while waiting for my daughter. This serves as my daily exercise! We have to be wise with how we use our time, you know! We have lunch as a family since my husband works from home most of the week.
Before sending my daughter to her afternoon activities, we usually call family or friends in the Philippines. I spend the afternoon creating guest posts, social media content, blog posts, or recording my Podcast which I release every Saturday evening.
I usually schedule group Clarity calls for my program students on Monday afternoons where they get support, help them get unstuck or I answer questions, they may have about any of the lessons.
My business is fully automated and running on evergreen platforms. Hence, I can devote most of my time to client attraction, conversion, and nurturing. This also allows me to work more with less effort.
I finish work before my child comes home at five in the afternoon. I then prepare dinner while we talk about her day. We eat and then play some card games. My husband takes care of the evening routine but I still put my daughter to bed and wait until she falls asleep! I intend to do this until she tells me not to.
Learning is important to me. I consider myself a perpetual student, so I read books on my Kindle in the evenings.
Before we go to bed, my husband and I have a little evening ritual; we usually watch one episode of a series while sipping a glass of iced tea. This is how we unwind.
With a small child, my time is very limited. That is why at the moment, I conduct meetings and networking events online.
Colleagues and friends often joke that it requires an act of God to make me leave our house, which to some extent, is true!
Image Credits: Ella Lacey Photography
Sure, social engagements are important, but lack of time for this should not hinder you from building your own entrepreneurial venture. Now, it is acceptable to do most things online.
As an entrepreneur yourself, what advice would you like to give to your fellow women entrepreneurs?
I have three important pieces of advice for fellow women entrepreneurs:
#1 First is to know your “whys”.
Your whys will always guide you and will keep you going even if things get tough. Running a business is not a walk in the park. Don’t be fooled by bro marketers who will lure you in with promises of easy time or easy money.
There will always be bumps on the road that will make you question yourself and your decisions. And when this happens, I tell you, it is easier just to give up. Don’t. Go back to your “why,” and it will lead you to an answer.
#2 The next piece of advice would be to take care of your well-being.
Be the fiercest advocate and guardian of your mental and physical health because no one will do it for you. Know how to set boundaries, learn how to say no, know your limits, surround yourself only with good people, and practice gratitude.
#3 My last piece of advice would be to be more discerning about who you emulate and look up to as a business owner.
We need to understand that women business owners are still underrepresented. Because of that, it is difficult to find mentors, particularly female mentors who are not employing patriarchal standards.
What do I mean by this? I was once “advised” by a female coach who told me that the only way I could succeed in business was to put my daughter in a kita, hire a nanny, and basically work 24/7. She even said that it is ok to miss family occasions because men do it all the time.
We need to be cautious when looking up to “role models”. You have to make sure that their version of success and their values align with yours. Otherwise, you will always be in a constant inner struggle.
As a business owner, and particularly an expat woman business owner, adequate support may still be lacking for us. But use this disadvantage to develop resilience. I am thankful for the challenges I faced as a business owner in Switzerland because it helped me think outside the box. I were in my home country, I would have been satisfied running a traditional law firm. I would still be helping business owners — big companies at that. But I don’t think I would have created more impact as much as I am creating now through Legally She Can.
My clients and students include mothers of young kids who left their 9-5 jobs to take care of their families, pensioners who want to do more even during retirement, middle-aged women who dream of changing their career paths, experts and freelancers who want to offer their services beyond borders and trailing spouses who wanted to establish something for themselves and not just wait for the next “move”.
They tell me that they used to fear legal and never thought they could understand it on their own. But after going through my programs, they became more confident and secure running their business not only because they have the legal policies and contracts in place but, more importantly, because they understand how these policies and agreements work in relation to their business.
One student said, “I felt stuck in my 9-5 job because I didn’t know how to start a coaching practice legally. It was just too overwhelming for me. With your help, I had the guts to do something which gives me more fulfillment!”
Whenever I receive such feedback, I know I did something right.
Is your business website legally compliant? This EXCLUSIVE offer could help you!
From 1 September 2023, all businesses in Switzerland must comply with the new Swiss Federal Act on Data Protection. If you are still not compliant or unsure what data protection means, then you need to watch this free training – Website Legal Compliance With Ease: The Three Simple Steps You Need To Accomplish To Ensure Protection and Success at www.legallyfluentacademy.com.
Get a 10% discount on all programs and done-for-services offered by Legally She Can. To get the discount, either use the code “MYSWISSSTORY” or send Vena a message that you were referred by My Swiss Story. The offer is only available from 1 September until 31 December 2023.
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