Sometimes business ideas aren’t something you do. Sometimes, they are what is done to you. Here’s me, sitting in a cafe by the beach in Bulli, watching the rain smash down from the sky into the crushing waves below. I’m listening to the sound of milk bubbling through under the barista’s watchful gaze, keenly aware of the sounds of voices mixing with TV and the clinking of plates.
To the people of this gorgeous little suburb, I am probably some twat on a laptop, an anomaly within morning routine. But what I am actually doing is exploring business ideas. I’m testing a vision against the harsh reality of action. And despite the glare on the screen and the arching of a back that complains as it hunches, today’s little visit to a cafe is very, very meaningful.
Right now, my partner is probably nervously pacing the campus of (one of my) old universities. He’s here to explore an idea, too. His exploration is a fairly common one- the exploring of a job prospect. It is the catalyst for thought and introspection. His job is as rare as hen’s teeth and to see it offered in a different city needed appropriate attention.
I am admiring his thought process and careful plod towards the idea. He is most like his nickname, the Bear, in this. He pads towards opportunity, assessing it. He stops and sniffs the air. He looks back and what he is leaving before he cautiously continues. He is soft eyed and gentle in his approach. But you can also see both great strength to tackle the mission and the ability for a very fast retreat, depending on the actions and reactions of his quarry.
Mine exploration is interwoven with his. Where he goes, I go along with a happy yellow Labrador. Our little family would need to move. Move from Sydney, which we have known for the last two decades, and to Wollongong, which neither of us really knows much about. Even when I studied here, I commuted. And his knowledge is based on a couple of holidays and a handful of gigs. Our ability to test the concept from practical experience is far from ideal.
So while he tests his idea of a potential new employer and gently pawing at the possibility of a change in responsibility, I sit here listening to Bulli live its life. I listen for the conversation, the signs of life. I look for the potential.
While this might not seem to be the biggest of business ideas considering I can take my freelance business with me, it is not without impact and risk.
All business ideas have that element of uncertainty attached. So I have to be careful when reviewing mine.
Separating dream from reality
Back in Sydney on the couch with iPad in hand, I have oohed and aahed my way through real estate sites. Mountains, beach and backyards you could fit your entire tribe in abound. It’s a lovely way to while away the hours; dreaming of the perfect rental, then the perfect house, to buy.
In my head, we find ourselves a part of an ill-defined community of people who have moved beneath the mortgage crush of Sydney and have donated their dollars to a seaside community instead. The sky is forever blue, the cost of living low, and the opportunities plentiful. There is culture, there is music. The vibrancy is there.
My partner will discover a whole new bunch of friends through work, martial arts training and music. And my being a local copywriter and content creator is something the people of Wollongong really appreciate.
Or so we’re thinking in the first level of business ideas flooding around and possibilities ebbing.
Mythology and reality collide
There is a lot at stake here. Moving away, making a leap. Leaving friends, his job and our ramshackle house loses its theoretical simplicity. All the things that didn’t seem to matter some two nights ago, feel incredibly real. They are no longer “just a short drive away”, they are in another city entirely.
The sun is peeking through and lorikeets eye me from the table outside. As I lift my smart phone to capture them, they fly away together. Even the birds in this place resist falling within the perfect frame. Nothing wishes to be squared easily away and marked with a definitive YES or NO.
I chide myself for being afraid of risk. My investment in this journey is a hell of a lot lower than that of my partner. I can work wherever I choose, living the freelance life.
I never really cared for the house in Waverley, so to leave it behind doesn’t fill me with anything more than a mild annoyance at the thought of packing. I spend most of my days with the dog, having the occasional visitor, working on my laptop on creative projects and writing for clients.
About the only thing that could be considered even mildly painful would be if the local shops stock my brand of caramel popcorn. And even that I know I can get through online delivery.
So what is it that makes the cafe’s suitably fine beverage and breakfast slide unhappily from side to side in my stomach? What is it about this change and the potential for using it to reinvent some of my business ideas so daunting?
Change bites and risk is scary
There’s a certain nip to the entire situation that requires a “WRONG WAY! GO BACK!” style of thinking. If he lets go of his job, if we let go of the house, if he leaves his sporting clubs, and if his bands get nervous- if it screws up, what then? Things become hairy IF the equivalent situations let us down.
But what is worse?
Exploring business ideas can be magical
I decided quite some time ago there are (probably) two types of people in the world. And I am not just talking about Neil Diamond fans and the rest of us.
There are the people who wish to challenge and test themselves, who despite the discomfort and personal risk, are willing to put their arse on the line to create something. Even if something is only created for the sole purpose of alleviating the tension of creation. To sit still, to not challenge, is frankly unthinkable.
In the other camp it is those who are content with the exchange of less disruption of routine for less stress and less potential reward. The highs and lows are not as dramatic, and there is a quiet joy to be gained in knowing what will happen from one day to the next.
It’s like the Fraggles, who play, explore and get into mischief versus the Doozers, who keep building and keep the baseline happening. It’s the steady processes of the Doozers that give the Fraggles food and construction. It is the exploration and fun of the Fraggles that gives the Doozers something to channel that desire for a solid foundation into.
(Unfortunately) I am a Fraggle. Sometimes, that drives me a little mental. Like today as I wait for word and anticipate a monumental change.
But despite the rising and pitching of a stomach and the naked pulse of blood as it thunders through my ears, I can taste more than coffee and breakfast in this soggy, rainy seaside cafe.
And that is the exciting pleasure associated with exploring business ideas.