Interview with Daniella Sjöqvist: the red force of nature

I love female entrepreneurship when synergies are pink and speak several languages.

Today I want to introduce to you Daniella Sjöqvist, a red force of nature. Since I know her, she gives me a lot of inspiration for my work every day.

She teaches Swedish and Spanish in Stockholm at her school Enjoy Learning And Never Stop E.L.A.N.S.

What determined the decision to start a business in you? And how did your business idea come about?

I have always loved to work with people, especially in an international environment, and practice different languages.

I have a master degree in International Relations.

I used to work for different Embassies and State agencies before I started my own business.

Those were exciting times, but I didn’t feel like I could use my full potential there.

I wanted to be able to take action on my ideas and creativity and was ready for a new challenge.

As for the idea for the business, it sort of came from an even earlier experience.

During my university studies, I had a part-time job as a Spanish teacher at a large education company. I loved it.

Many years later, some of my old students reached out to me asking if I was still teaching language.

So I decided to give it a shot and get back to teaching while still holding my full-time job. It went well, and I never went back.

What do you think are the 3 primary skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?

The first one is being a creative problem solver. From small to big problems.

For an entrepreneur to be successful you have to be solving a problem other people have, that is the core.

Another skill that I think is also important is being brave.

You have to be brave to try new ideas and take risks without any certainty that it is going to work out in the end.

And last but not least, being hard working and disciplined.

Since you don’t have a boss, you have to be your own boss. Being disciplined and structured will save you lots of time.

What were your failures, and what did you learn from them?

You fail all the time and you need to fail in order to succeed because when you fail you have to innovate.

when you innovate many new ideas come out. I would say my biggest failure was not to create my company earlier.

I have learned that perfection is the enemy of good. Sometimes you just need to go. You just need to do.

What motivates you?

I have a job where I see how people learn new things, and how that helps them achieve their dreams.

To better integrate into society, get a new job and feel better in general.

It is very rewarding to see them leave the class happy, seeing them have fun. Many make new friends in my class and continue to see each other afterward. I think that is beautiful.

What is your biggest fear, and how do you manage anxiety?

Starting was the scariest part since there are no guarantees, no economic stability.

Since I did not have any close relatives or friends who were entrepreneurs themselves, it was hard.

But the more I worked, the more stable things got.

Nowadays, my fears are around finding work-life balance and criticism in general, and especially on social media.

I now have one of the biggest Instagram accounts about Swedish, @fun_swedish. But in the beginning, when I started posting, I had the fear of not being liked. But the response so far has been great.

How do you build a strong customer base?

I would say the key is to give your customers lots and lots of value.

By taking care of them, they are more likely to stay, to be flexible in case something goes wrong and be kind.

Plus, if they really like what you have to offer, they will recommend you to others.

Do you think there’s a kind of model or formula to becoming a successful entrepreneur?

I dont know if there’s a formula but there are key ingredients.

A good product that delivers value to the customer is always a must. Then you need to have all the qualities that we mentioned before, basically.

Still, that gives you no guarantee of success, but it gives you the best chances.

From whom did you get great inspiration?

From different people and for different reasons. From my parents because they are both fighters and care about helping people and making the world a better place.

From Stina, who was some sort of a mentor during my first teaching experience. She always talked about the social aspect of teaching and was great with people.

From Nuria, who was an excellent Spanish teacher. She dared to break the rules to make learning fun.

What do you think are the 5 critical elements to starting and running a successful business?

Being comfortable with the unknown.
Trying new things. Thinking outside of the box.
Innovating and daring to make mistakes.

What do you do to improve your marketing activity? What was the most effective form of marketing that you implemented?

The most effective thing I ever did in regards to marketing is to give value for free.

I started doing free trial lessons. It is less of a commitment for people to sign up for a free lesson.

They get value out of it and learn something for sure. And then if they liked what they saw, they are more likely to sign up for the courses.

What are your hobbies? What do you do in your spare time?

The tricky part about this question is that I made my hobby my job.

Besides teaching, I love to discover new places around the world and even in my own hometown.

I also like to talk about international politics and hang out with family and friends.

Recently, I started helping out at a shelter for homeless people here in Stockholm. Very rewarding.

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