Do you want to make a life for yourself in sunny climes but you are put off by the economic and unemployment crisis still inflicting Spain? Going freelance might just be the solution. Here is why Barcelona is an ideal place for those with the entrepreneurial ambition and motivation to be your own boss and master of your work and life situation.
The city that has it all
There may be an ongoing economic and unemployment crisis, but Barcelona is a city rich in many other ways. Quality of life here is generally very high. This is a city surrounded by sun, sea, sand and mountains. There is art, culture and festivities a-plenty. Few places can boast having all this in one place. And with almost year round good weather, this is a place where life takes place outside and doesn’t feel rushed or stressed. The spirit is bohemian, the people open and welcoming. Barcelona has a distinct charisma and charm that hooks people. Here you can find countless expats who will tell you how they came to Barcelona with the intention of staying for a few months or a year, and here they are years down the line with their lives very much anchored here.
Barcelona’s entrepreneurial community
For many people, there just aren’t obvious career opportunities to be found here. Some decide to take the bold step and go it alone. But it doesn’t have to be as daunting and lonely as it sounds. Indeed, in Barcelona there is a large and thriving community of autonomos and entrepreneurs, both locals and foreigners, offering many opportunities to connect with other like-minded individuals, get inspired, and get their ideas and businesses up and running.
Barcelona Internet Startups is a great way to really engage with Barcelona’s entrepreneurial community. BIS has been running since 2011 and is now among the largest growing startup communities in Spain with over 2,700 members. The aim of BIS is to empower people by fostering connections and opportunities to develop new business, meet customers, launch new products, promote brands and expand markets.
Catering specifically for women entrepreneurs is the ODAME association, created more than 20 years ago. In recognition of the specific challenges that women can experience when creating and maintaining a business, this dedicated group of entrepreneurs collaborate and support one another, while promoting the presence of women in the business world in Barcelona.
Another option to get engaged and inspired in a relaxed, trendy and informal setting is to invest in some coworking space. The idea behind these spaces is to create a sense of community and provide an opportunity to meet and connect with open- and like- minded people. Betahaus Barcelona, based in Gracia, is currently the largest coworking space in Barcelona, both in terms of members and space, encompassing many nationalities. Betahaus offers a number of facilities, from desks, terraces and toilets, to a members’ café and space for holding events and workshops. They also hold events such as, among other things, a global start-up competition and talks. While there is the possibility of finding people here who can use your services, the real value is perhaps the inspiration and motivation you can get from socialising and sharinge ideas with like-minded people. For details of costs of desks in Bethaus see their website.
For startups there are numerous events to get inspired and off the ground. Surely not to be missed is BizBarcelona, a two day event where attendees can receive support and expert advice, find or grow their business ideas and access financial resources. It also provides a seminar programme and a great networking opportunity.
For tech entrepeneurs, the Barcelona Startup Fair boasts being the largest startup fair in southern Europe. With hundreds of jobs spanning a mix of companies vital to the European tech scene, the event provides unique recruitment and networking opportunities, with company founders and recruiters directly on hand to speak to.
The events line up is yet larger and richer than being touched on here. Numerous regular business events are held by groups and institutions across the business community, offering networking opportunities over an informal drink, startup weekends, masterclasses and even startup bootcamp programs. To find out about other startup and business events in the city, Job Fluent Barcinno and Itnig are great resources, providing regular updates on their websites.
In the city which never stops, wouldn’t it be great to have a more flexible work schedule in order to enjoy this wonderful city to its fullest. As your own boss, there is scope to find the work-life balance that suits you.
Of course, it isn’t all plain sailing getting set up as an autonomo. The Spanish bureaucracy presents you with several hurdles to contend with. Yes, it can be a hassle, but with such a large and connected community of freelancers in Barcelona, experienced guidance is always available. And the final outcome could well be worth the initial struggles.