How I Started with 1000 Euros in Japan — Interview with Freya Augustin

Freya Augustin, Founder of The Happy Healthy Entrepreneur Coaching

My guest on this week’s show of Mental Wealth For Entrepreneurs Podcast Episode #8 is Freya Augustin @Freya_Augustin. Today Freya is sharing a story of moving to Japan with just 1000 euros in a pocket and becoming an entrepreneur, first starting a school, then cruelty-free cosmetics brand and then becoming a coach. Freya was raised in Germany and then moved to Japan when she was only 24 years old.

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Show notes

Katerina: Hi, Freya… I am really, really excited to talk to you because you have such an unusual story. You came to Japan just after graduating when you were 24 year old?

Freya: Yes, that’s right. Yeah, it was very adventurous. So I always had the dream of living in a foreign country. And I studied in Japan for one year actually. So I already knew what it’s like there. And I really yeah, I enjoyed it there so much that I just just went right after graduation. Like, seriously, I’m not kidding. On the day that I handed in my my thesis, I got on the plane and flew to Japan. The same day. And I literally I had nothing I had 1000 euros and a friend who liked me stay at her house. And that’s that was it.

Katerina: Yeah. So you went to Japan and were you looking for a job or did you start a business? You had 1000 euros in your pocket. This is very adventurous.

Freya: I was young, you know? Some times you do that kind of stuff. So I looked for a job first because I had no idea about entrepreneurship or anything at all. So I looked for a job and I was really, really lucky. I found a job within two weeks, so my money lasted. And then I got into this job and it was really, really stressful. So I started teaching and I started teaching kindergarten kids. And I was the only teacher for 20 kindergarteners. And whoever has a kid at home probably knows that one is already pretty challenging, now imagined twenty and that’s in your job. So I got burned out really, really quickly. And I had to quit it after a year and a half, because like, I had nightmares and I woke up at night like fearing something happened to the kids because I was the only person in charge there for twenty right? I woke up at night and got really, really stressed out I didn’t want to go to work any more that kind of depressed and I was just like I cannot do this any more.

Katerina: So was this an English school was it for preschoolers and elementary school kids, right? Only preschoolers, preschoolers. But that was your business…. you started a business? or was it just a job?

Freya: Oh that was that was just my job. Yeah, it would my job. And I quitted it and started teaching regularly. And after four years altogether of teaching, I I kind of felt that teaching under a big company was not really for me. There were so many issues and things that I didn’t like and a lot of rules. I’m not a big fan of rules, honestly speaking. So I started my own school and that was my very first venture. And it went really, really well. I mean, in the beginning, of course, but yeah, after that, like after the first few years where I made lots of mistakes, and after that, it went well, and I’m still having it. So and I enjoy doing it.

Katerina: You still have a business? Your school?

Freya: I still have the school. Yes. Right.

Katerina: So what was the most difficult challenge you had to overcome? Starting that school business?

Freya: There were… there were a lot. Of course, like finding students was difficult but the most difficult for me was the taxes like doing all the taxes, and speaking Japanese all the time was difficult and communicating with clients all in Japanese. So that was really really hard.

Katerina: Was it a private school?

Freya: Oh, yeah. So that was my private school.

Katerina: Yeah. How many students? How many pupils do you have today?

Freya: Oh, I have 50. Yeah. But not not in one day and not at the same time.

Katerina: So, how many people do you employ working for you in the school?

Freya: In the school, I’m working alone. Because, yeah, it’s just fine. If I do it, it’s nice.

Katerina: You just teach kids? Which subjects do you teach kids.

Freya: I teach English only.

Katerina: Okay. . Yeah. . So you have to manage all your taxes, do all your marketing and teach at the same time.

Freya: Yes, yes. But because I have so much experience teaching right now it’s, I think, eight years or so. Eight years experience teaching, it’s just like, well, a normal day, I just go in there and teach. So I don’t need much preparation. Actually, much more challenging was my second company where I sold cosmetics, cruelty free vegan cosmetics online. And that was way more challenging for me because they had to go into like real marketing before it was more like word of mouth. But now I had to go into real marketing.

Katerina: Did you have anyone to help you out? Or did you do any courses? How did you learn marketing?

Freya: Just reading stuff online, which I realise now was not the smartest. Yeah, I didn’t know anyone who had their own business or I also didn’t even know about coaching and stuff. Um, so yeah, I did this all on my own and it was really, really hard. Yeah. And, but like, I realised that I’m not really a sales person. So I stopped this I stopped selling cosmetics and then I went into coaching when I found out what coaching is. I did a course and I’m a certified business coach now. And because coaching is just so much closer to teaching than just selling cosmetics.

Katerina: Well, you still need to find clients?

Freya: Yes, yes, yes. But for me, finding clients is more… is easier than selling like real products. Yeah, I have… I have definitely experience. So that’s what I want to talk about my experience with clients and I want to give them help so that they’re not in the same position that I was when I started out, just reading stuff online and then failing again, and trying failing, trying and failing and so on.

Freya Augustin, Entrepreneur and Coach

Katerina: So how long you’ve been doing entrepreneurship now? So you went to Japan? When did you go to Japan? How many years ago?

Freya: I came here eight years ago.

Katerina: So, you’ve had these different ventures on and off and you started the school… you still have a school and then you started the cruelty free cosmetics brand. That didn’t really work out because you didn’t like the sales.

Freya: Yes. Yeah.

Katerina: And and now you’re doing the coaching business as well.

Freya: Yeah, yeah. Yes.

Katerina: So… so what is your vision about your businesses? What’s next for the school?

Freya: Um, the school I kind of want to keep it small. The reason for that is spent in Japan, you have a lot of schools that teach English, but a lot of them are also very expensive. And I want to give people who don’t earn that much money, the chance or their children actually the chance to also look Learn English and and you have the same the same education that richer kids can get, right? I’m not doing… I’m not doing it for free, but it’s definitely a lot cheaper than the big English schools here. So I want to keep it small so that they can still afford it. It’s kind of like my, my baby, you know? And, yeah, but right now I’m focusing 100% of my time because of COVID right? I had to close the school. So right now 100% goes in to business coaching. Yeah, yeah, that’s going well, I’m enjoying it a lot. Yeah.

Katerina: Have you thought of doing something online teaching English online kids? Yeah. Would they pay money, if it was online. Yeah, I thought about it. Um, but I really enjoyed the the close contact with the kids like throwing balls and and playing around and having them run around and jump around. That’s how kids learn, right? They don’t learn from reading or just talking to a screen.

Katerina: Yeah. So yeah, I mean it’s it’s, it’s incredible to be in Japan and you know, different country, different culture. And you didn’t have a supportive boyfriend as well.

Freya: Yeah, that’s another thing.

Katerina: He wanted you to go and find the job, right?

Freya: Yeah. That is right. Well, that’s the culture here in Japan. So in Japan, you… Everyone has a corporate job basically. That’s the standard and entrepreneurship is still kind of in the baby shoes if you can say that… not many people doing it so yeah, everyone was kind of like “Yeah, why don’t you apply for for real job?” right… kind of thing. So yeah, there was also hard, but my head is harder let’s say that way.

Katerina: So, what can you say to starting… what can you say to students who are finishing their courses today? What advice can you give them? Should this should they be looking for a nine to five job or should they try entrepreneurship and start their own businesses? What’s your take on this?

Freya: I cannot give a clear answer on. First of all, it depends on the person. Some people are more adventurous and like to take risks and others are more on the safe side, right? So if, if you were the kind of person who likes to stay on the safe side, find a job first. And if you still want to try entrepreneurship start it as a side hustle. And if you really love it, then you can still quit your job. But if you’re one of the people who’s really adventurous and does not care about income in the beginning, because that can be minimal… when you’re just starting out, then I would say sure, why not? Right now is your chance you don’t have a family that you need to support, you don’t have a house or mortgage or something. So yeah, right now it’s your chance to try it out. If you don’t like it, you can still go to corporate or try again and again and again.

Katerina: Yeah. Right. So what was the most difficult challenge in the last eight years in Japan for you?

Freya: The taxes, they… they really… Yeah, because in the beginning, I didn’t have money to hire an accountant or tax lawyer or someone can do that for me. So I did it all myself and all in Japanese. And the first, the first year was really, really scary whenever there was a letter from the tax office in my mailbox I was like, oh my god, oh my god. I was like shaking, like I don’t want to open this. I don’t know what it says. So I don’t know what I’m gonna do and I was afraid that if I don’t pay my taxes correctly, and on time that they’re gonna deport me, right, because I just said, I just had a working visa. And if you don’t pay your taxes, they can legally just deport you. So yeah, that was really scary.

Read the full interview Here

Originally published at

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About the Author:

I help entrepreneurs to build their emotional and business resilience. Throughout my professional life, I helped hundreds of entrepreneurs to launch their businesses following their passion.

Author of Generation AI: The Rise of the Resilient Entrepreneur, Educator, Podcaster @katerinathomas