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Building a successful business as a freelancer, digital nomad or entrepreneur is a challenging journey. At Passionfruit we are on a mission to help you. In our ‘Unfiltered Story’ blog series we do this by interviewing a digital nomad, freelancer or entrepreneur and share their unfiltered stories with you. In this first Unfiltered Story 001 we interview Monique Zweers who turned her life around after a burnout. She recently quit her full time job to become a virtual assistant and coach. Now she is on a mission to help ambitious entrepreneurs grow their businesses. This is her story.

WHY DID YOU BECOME AN ENTREPRENEUR?

It may sound cliché, but the sense of freedom of being an entrepreneur is what made me really go for it. It feels great to be able to make my own decisions and choose how I want to spend my time. I love being able to adjust my plan when I think it’s necessary or because I want to add a new habit or skill into my daily working-routine. No longer working for someone else’s purpose (or even worse: without a purpose at all) but for my own purpose, is something I really love. Now I use my skills as a virtual assistant and coach to help others achieve their goals and dreams.

WHAT DID YOUR JOURNEY LOOK LIKE?

I come from an entrepreneurial family. So you would say it was an obvious step in my career to become an entrepreneur one day myself. And yes, it crossed my mind once or twice, but until recently I didn’t act upon it. Nice dream, too much risk, not for me.

But last year I got a clear wake-up call. I was working as an accountmanager. I was successful in my job and had an excellent track record. But my drive to always exceed expectations combined with a huge workload and a changing organization drained my energy. I got a burn-out.

That was something I didn’t see coming. I was really confused (angry, sad, etc.) because that was so not me. But you know what? Looking back  it was the greatest gift I could have wished for. Getting through a crisis made it clear to me that it was possible to redesign my life and build it around the things I love most.

I reconsidered everything, including my relationship. In the end I chose to keep what makes me happy and say goodbye to what doesn’t. My job had to go, my husband could stay   .

WHAT WERE YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGES?

My biggest challenge was (and still is sometimes) to trust in my own abilities, potential and added value. Although I’ve been very successful in my jobs, it’s different when you become an entrepreneur. I’ve learned that to overcome this challenge it helps to stay connected to other freelancers/solopreneurs. My struggles aren’t unique and talking about it puts everything in perspective. I also learned to celebrate my small successes, not just the big ones.

WHAT ARE YOU DOING NOW THAT YOU ARE MOST EXCITED ABOUT?

At the moment I’m learning something new every single day. I’m still starting up my business and I actually like everything I am doing so far, because it contributes to reaching my goals. Even the most ‘boring’ tasks like doing my accounting (okay, that won’t last long, but you get the point).

WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST PASSION?

My biggest passion is to help my customers achieve their goals and make them super happy. I have always been quite ‘customer obsessed’. It feels really good when a customer says I personally made a big difference in their journey.

My customer obsession was already there when I sold products as a sales representative, and it became even more important when I was in conceptual sales as an accountmanager.

Now I use this obsession (let’s call it a passion from now on) to help people to realize their dreams. The impact that I have is directly applicable to their personal happiness. And that’s really awesome! It’s super cool when you can offer added value!

WHAT IS YOUR MISSION?

It’s my mission to help ambitious online entrepreneurs to achieve their goals and thereby make an important contribution to their personal happiness and sense of accomplishment.

I want to motivate and inspire others that if they have a dream, they should go for it. And I want to help them to actually take the necessary steps to achieve that dream.

I cannot stand the thought that one day I realize that the time is up and that my life has just passed by. Consciously choosing what I do (and what I don’t do) has become part of my daily habits. I’m convinced that this is the only way to be in control over your own happiness.

WHAT IS YOUR BIG DREAM? (THE ONE THAT SCARES THE SH*T OUT OF YOU)

My dream is to become the go-to person for ambitious people who want to achieve personal happiness. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to become some sort of a guru. I like to stay with both feet on the ground. I would love it when, if someone is stuck in their path to happiness, people would say: ‘you should call Monique, she is the one who can help you fix this’.

Of course they would have to call me in my 1,2 million euro villa (it’s actually just two streets from where I grew up, and I dreamed of owning it since I was a little girl). Or while I enjoy another sun-drenched vacation with my family and friends on an island somewhere in the pacific, since my husband’s fear of flying has miraculously disappeared.

WHAT ARE YOUR SUPERPOWERS?

That’s a difficult question because I don’t like to brag. I’d rather let people experience for themselves what I’m good at. But I know you are not going to let me get away with that answer, so if I have to answer I’d say my superpowers are that I am super organized and that I have a sharp mind which allows me to quickly see the bigger picture. On top of that I believe I am a good communicator and last but not least, I am very stubborn. I never take anything without questioning it first. This can be very annoying for some people, but believe me, it has brought me a lot.

WHO IS YOUR BIGGEST INSPIRATION AND WHY?

I don’t really have one person as an inspiration. Anyone who dares to take the leap to pursue their dream is an inspiration to me. Because those are the people who remind me that almost anything is possible, as long as you want it bad enough and are willing to put in the effort.

WHAT ARE YOUR 3 TRUTHS ABOUT LIFE?

You are responsible for your own happiness.

We were not born into this world to be alone. Therefore we are not supposed to do everything alone. Don’t be too proud to ask for help if you need it. There will be a time you can pay it back. Or forward ;).

“Not enough time” is perception. There are 24 hours in a day. It’s about what you do with them, how you classify them and what you prioritize.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE QUOTE?

‘What you allow is what will continue’

I came across this quote when I was in the middle of my burn-out. I found out that it is applicable to almost every situation in life (and the reason for the number one on my ‘truths about life’ list). Life doesn’t have to happen to you.

You are in control. It’s only what you allow in life, what will continue. If it doesn’t make you happy, do something about it!

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We are very grateful Monique took the time and had the courage to share her story. We hope it inspires you to follow you heart, pursue your dreams and just f*cking do it!

We’d love to know if you want to be the next freelancer, digital nomad or entrepreneur we interview to share your unfiltered story. Please send us a message or leave a reply.

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