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The Ways and Advice of Miglena Hofer for Staying Organised and Motivated as an Entrepreneur

Updated: Mar 20, 2023

Mag. Miglena Hofer is a self-employed business consultant and a legal professional with law degrees from the University of Vienna and the University of Sofia. She’s also a mom of 2, a managing director and senior legal counsel of Austria for Beginners, a co-founder of The Collaboratory, a certified business mediator, and a mentor at the PWN and The Female Factor.

Currently, Miglena is preparing to take on the role of a trainer at Youth Entrepreneurship Week Austria.

For almost 3 years, Miglena has been also a part of Self-employed in Austria and an active member of our community, and I was very excited to ask her a few more questions about her work and ways of staying organised and effective as a female entrepreneur.

So what is it exactly that Miglena offers to the self-employed in Austria?

As a business consultant, Miglena helps businesses with legal topics related to starting and running a business in Austria:

  • founding a business in Austria,

  • business migration,

  • recognition of foreign qualifications,

  • business development and growth,

  • preparing terms and conditions,

  • conflict management,

  • business mediation.

Are you passionate about the law? How did it all start?

I definitely am! It’s a love-hate relationship, to be honest.

My personal goal has always been to make the law work for people and not against them. Finding ways that happen and being creative within its boundaries is what I love about being a legal professional.

But I do hate it when it is unjust. One of the first things you learn at the university is that what is lawful is not always what is just. And that breaks my heart a little bit every time one of my clients becomes a “victim” of this principle.

Ever since I can remember, I was advocating for someone - a friend, a classmate, or a cause, and putting things in a just order was important to me.

I decided I wanted to be a lawyer when I turned 9. I remember my parents using “no more arguing and discussing” as a disciplinary measure. I guess, this is how it all started!

What do you like about your work?

I do a couple of different things but what they have in common is providing solutions. Ultimately, whether I act as a legal professional, a business consultant or a mediator, in the end, I am a problem solver, and this is one of my favourite things to do.

Ultimately, whether I act as a legal professional, a business consultant or a mediator, in the end, I am a problem solver, and this is one of my favourite things to do.

I also really enjoy helping people turn their ideas into reality. Being a part of that is magic!

What a regular workday looks like for you?

I’ve discovered that I’m most productive when my week follows a certain system.

So, it depends on which day of the week we are talking about. I’ve been using the hybrid working model since before it had a name - I work from home 1-2 days a week and from the office 2-3 days a week.

I have a day for meetings and consultations, and days for doing quiet, intellectual work.

When it comes to consultations, the preparation depends on the fact whether it is the first one with that client, or if we’ve already worked together.

Sometimes, I send my clients materials to read, so they come better prepared and we can use our time together more efficiently. But mostly, I ask questions and I listen. After the consultation, my clients receive a very comprehensive follow-up email.

Most often after work, I pick up my kids and spend time with my family. If I’ve had a particularly busy week, I go to the movies to unwind.

My favourite things to do to relax are going to live concerts, the theatre, meeting my friends and doing fun things with my family.

Do you have some golden rules that you always stick to when working with your clients?

Absolutely. Setting healthy boundaries is paramount. I don’t work twice with people who have lied to me (intentionally) or crossed a boundary I have clearly communicated.

I have learned that presuming that you are understood is dangerous and it is better to make sure you are.

My favourite rule of all is - on Mondays I don’t work, don’t open emails and don’t take calls. I need this day to organize my entire week.

My favourite rule of all is - on Mondays I don’t work, don’t open emails and don’t take calls. I need this day to organize my entire week.

If I do decide to work on a Monday, I keep it for quite intellectual work.

If you could choose only one field in which you feel the most confident what would it be?

I cannot choose, sorry! I am a person who likes to do a lot of things and gets bored by mundane or repetitive work. I enjoy equally solving complex legal problems and working with my clients on the development and growth of their businesses.

As a mediator, I enjoy very much helping business partners use the current conflict they are having as a chance to grow and transform their business relationships.

Do you deal with a lot of stress/responsibilities at work?

I do! But the stress of the work itself and having a lot of responsibilities has never scared me. On the contrary, it motivates me.

How to correctly handle a relationship with a business consultant?

Honesty is essential. If you are withholding information or are simply not being straight about what you want and how you want it done, this makes building a fruitful relationship very difficult. Being respectful and polite is always appreciated.

Why should we hire you over other consultants?

I believe that people work with me not necessarily because of my expertise but because of how I exercise it. It's my aim to make things easy for my clients.

Many of them use my services to bounce off ideas and ultimately, rely on me to tell them the truth. Even when it is not what they want to hear.

I think that, combined with my knowledge and experience, makes me a good choice.

I genuinely care about my clients and do my best to guard their interests.

You seem to be an advocate of mentorship. Why’s that?

I certainly am. Having a mentor to help you achieve whatever goals you have set for yourself is amazing, and I think self-employed people can definitely benefit from a mentoring relationship.

The relationship between the mentor and mentee is very personal and trustworthy.

You don’t need to learn and try everything yourself. Using other people’s experience and know-how saves you time, effort and most often, money. Plus, you get supported and it’s easier to stay on track.

You don’t need to learn and try everything yourself. Using other people’s experience and know-how saves you time, effort and most often, money. Plus, you get supported and it’s easier to stay on track.

What are the mentoring programs that you would recommend to English-speaking entrepreneurs in Austria?

I can wholeheartedly recommend the mentoring program of the Professional Women’s Network - Vienna (men are also accepted!). I was a mentee for two years there and this year, I’ve returned as a mentor myself.

I am also a mentor in the Female Founder's mentoring program, so I can vouch for these two for sure.

What are the most important factors that make an entrepreneur successful?

I wouldn’t call it factors but rather characteristics of the entrepreneur. Attitude towards work, relationship-building skills, discipline, self-awareness and keeping yourself accountable are the traits that will keep you afloat.

What would you recommend for staying sane as a self-employed person in times of high inflation and generally difficult, changing times?

In times like these, you need to let go of what you thought it will be and see how you can adapt to what it actually is. Flexibility is a survival skill. And of course, minimizing your expenses.

Remember that you are not the only one going through this, so it is not something that you are doing or not that is causing it. Focus on getting by at the moment and leave your bigger plans for a little bit later.

As a self-employed person, how do you stay organised, and motivated?

My most important rules for staying organized and productive are

1. Having one day without emails, phone calls and meetings weekly (yes, every week, unless a REAL emergency requires me to do that kind of work on that day).

2. Having a dedicated day for meetings and consultation, rather than scheduling them all over my week.

3. Only filling 70% of every week’s working time because unpredicted things happen and that way, I can manage them better without disrupting my workflow and/or my mental health.

What services/companies help you to get by with self-employment? is one of them for sure. I also appreciate my web developer, my tax advisor and my fellow business consultant Severina Ditzov.

What did you think about the process of writing a book/ what were the biggest challenges?

Writing the first guide to self-employment is one of the biggest challenges I had. Not only because I never thought I could co-write a book. But also, because of the realisation that our work will stay out there forever, and anyone can access it.

I was terrified of not making a mistake. It was also difficult to explain rather complex legal matters in a simple and at the same time comprehensive way.

Looking back, these two books are one of the things I am most proud of in my career.

What’s the future of your career, and in which direction would you like to develop?

I am set on growing my consultancy and developing my business mediation practice.

What's your advice for newcomers who want to start self-employment in Austria?

Invest in a good foundation, so you are all set. It pays off and it saves time. Find a supportive community because self-employment can be quite isolating, especially in a foreign country.

Why did you decide to partner with the Self-employed in Austria?

I watched self-employed in Austria go from an idea to a living, working community and the number 1 resource for self-employed internationals, in my opinion.

I loved the idea and I also liked how it will be brought to life. That was enough for me to be on board.

The guidebooks and the entire platform are a must-have for self-employed people in Austria. There is nothing more important than your time and you save a lot of it by using these resources. Besides that, being part of a like-minded community is not only practical but can also serve as an inspiration.

Thank you Miglena, for these honest and resourceful answers!

You can book private consultations with Miglena Hofer HERE!

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