As some of you are aware, we’re on the move again soon and will be packing up and heading to Frankfurt in just a few weeks (all things going well).
It will be our third move to a foreign country since January 2014. My fifth apartment in the same space of time.
For the past two years I’ve split my time between our home under the blue skies of Madrid and various homes in Bonnie Scotland. It’s been both hectic and brilliant, both tiring and rewarding.
However, it hasn’t helped me keep my business goals clear, as the playing-field, never mind the goalposts, keeps moving.
In Madrid, I jumped in head-first and not fully prepared for what was coming. I got caught up in trying to “make it work” and took on projects that were nothing to do with my original business plan. Some successful, some not. A degree of flexibility is a huge asset to working abroad, especially if you’re self-employed, but I was bending over backwards trying to find my feet in this new place.
It was an attempt to make it feel like home.
Every few weeks I was also flying back to the UK and running parts of my business from there. The first few years of being self-employed are difficult to navigate at the best of times, never mind when they involve a fractured set-up from two different countries. It’s a constant rollercoaster and that old foe “self-doubt” regularly comes out of the shadows for a visit. I wasn’t doing things as well as I wanted to and I’d fallen into the trap of being busy but not productive.
As our move to Frankfurt edges closer, I’ve been feeling somewhat apprehensive. The idea of starting all over again and learning how to run my business as a stranger to yet another city makes me understandably nauseated. Being a soloprenuer and small business owner is not for the faint-hearted. It takes drive and determination. Dedication and confidence in not only your product but also yourself.
Feeling like a stranger is enough to make anyone feel lost and unsure. It took its toll on me these past couple of years and has had big implications for my business. Don’t get me wrong, the last couple of years were by no means a failure, but right a that point where most small businesses face a time of reflection and reassessment, I’m faced with starting over. Again.
It took a conversation with a friend (who really should consider a career as a life-coach) to recognise what deep down I really knew. Our move to Frankfurt is one full of opportunity and new beginnings. A chance to take a step back and “pivot” so my business can evolve into something I’m happy with. A time to refocus and adjust as necessary.
But to do this properly I actually need to take a step back. To take the time to get to know my new city and find out what works there. Decide the best way to continue working with the wonderful colleagues I now have in Scotland, England, Norway and Spain. Make sure what I’m doing has the impact I aim for and stays relevant in a industry known for changing at a fast pace.
As other small business owners will know, the whole reason you started can sometimes fade behind the growing expenses and realisation you’re working for less than a few pounds an hour.
So for the next few months I’ve decided to take a little bit of a break to allow myself to remember why I’m doing this. With the exception of the bookings I’ve already got in the diary (and a handful of people I’m working out dates with), I won’t be taking on any more clients until later this year.
Instead, I’ll be rewriting my business plan, taking some classes, learning about Search Engine Optimisation, updating my website(s) and practising my craft. I’ll keep in touch through blogging, eNewsletters and my #MeiPhotoChallenge so I won’t disappear altogether. It’s just time for new chapter in both my business and personal life.
And I’ve got some German to learn too…