3 things moving will teach you about business
As my partner and I pack up and shift cities from Sydney to Wollongong, I’ve had a couple of moments to reflect on business. There are a lot of parallels.
Here are 3 things moving will teach you about business (or is that business teaches you about moving?):
Expect the unexpected
The day we went to pick up the keys was the same day the local council at our current house decided was a good one for ripping up the pavement.
This meant working with the guys doing the work to negotiate a strip of concrete to be left for our council pickup of unwanted items. It meant ensuring that everything was in the garage so that if the concrete wasn’t dry, we could still move.
And it meant doing this with a smile.
The result? We still got out council pick up done, the guys did our bit of pavement first thing in the morning to ensure it was dry by moving day, and we benefited from being organised enough to have everything in one central location.
It doesn’t sound like much, but we could have approached it an entirely different way. While I was having a friendly chat with the guys to organise a compromise that didn’t mean they would get into trouble, but we would suffer the least amount of impact, a woman sat in the middle of the road in her four wheeled drive. She honked her horn, she shook her fist.
And she screamed “get out of the way, I have an appointment!”
The woman expected that a truck, a bob cat, 2 guys on street level smoothing concrete, and a dude with a crow bar would move to the side so she could pass through. The time she waited for this to happen, she could have reversed two car lengths and gone down another street four times over.
And it was despite the area being marked as roadwork, and the appropriate notifications being given to residents.
You don’t win the day by being stubborn, inflexible and rude. In fact, you may come off looking like a bit of an idiot. Yes, the guys moved for her, but to half a dozen people (who will no doubt tell their friends and family about the “crazy, rude woman in a tan four wheeled drive!” like I am now), she seemed like an unreasonable, self-entitled shrew.
The lesson: You may not be able to see everything that could happen in a given situation, but you can control the way you respond to it. And by controlling your response, you’ll always get a positive outcome. Even if that outcome is simply that you stress less. Or you can look like a giant jerk with a massive ego. It’s always your choice.
Not everyone gets it
I’ve been telling my existing clients I need a week off weeks ahead of time so things were prepared. New clients have been given an availability date. Others who couldn’t wait have been introduced to other freelancers.
Most have been fairly accommodating. Many have wished me well and some have even asked if I need extra time. All in all, I’ve felt pretty damn great about how my clients have responded to the news.
However, two potential clients gave cause to raise an eyebrow.
One spent a lot of time and energy trying to guilt me into working on their project on the weekends. One even demanded I cancel my moving plans and work on their project instead.
This kind of attitude doesn’t make for a good client-freelancer relationship.
Now I don’t want to sound ungrateful for being sought after. I appreciate every single enquiry I get and am honestly humbled by some of the complimentary and sincerely lovely approaches I receive from business owners. I love what I do, and I love dealing with fun, inspiring and passionate people.
But nothing marks you quicker as a dreaded PITA (pain in the arse) than demanding I give up my free time, or time reserved for my family, because of a project. And the icing on the cake is when you’ve left it too late to do something well, and you expect me to pay the penalty.
The same goes for moving. The minute someone tries to manipulate you, you know things are going to be rough. We had a couple of early issues with people involved in our moving process and found the easiest way to deal with them was simply disengage from the stupidity and stick to the facts.
The lesson: The right person will seek compromise and to collaborate, the wrong person will demand attention- and be twice the work for half the pay. If they seem unprofessional, they usually are. Steer clear. There are plenty of clients, suppliers and customers who will value you and your business.
You have to play the long game
From my partner’s job interview through to when he will start his first day, it’ll be almost 3 months. Right now, we are in the meaty part of the move. There are boxes and bags everywhere. And we anticipate two full days of shunting a moving van up and down the highway from Sydney to Wollongong.
Then we have to come back to Sydney and face two full days of cleaning, green waste removal and releasing ourselves from this house. The joy doesn’t end there because we have to go back to Wollongong and clean the new house before unpacking, then unpack.
My partner then has to spend 2 weeks staying with friends and commuting up and down between Sydney and Wollongong. I also return to my own work while navigating not having an internet connection for 15 days. It’s going to take a lot of planning.
It’s been frustrating, sure, but you have to play the long game with anything that is worthwhile. We’re moving ourselves to save lots of money, and we need to be patient. And we need to make sure we have the financial and emotional fortitude to make it work.
This is so much like business, it’s insane.
When you first get it off the ground, a business is a pretty thankless undertaking. You spend a lot of time doing stuff you hate, dealing with people who have all the charm of a 9 day old fish carcass, and plugging away at stuff that makes you question what on earth possessed you to do something so stupid.
But if you can stick a mental flag in that moment where all the effort finally comes together to turn to reward, it is well worth the effort.
The lesson: For a very long time, you’ll be stumbling around, wondering if you have made the right decision. But that is part and parcel of the process. And you won’t know until you try.
The bottom line on why moving is like business:
Life and business aren’t always comfortable, but gee the beer tastes sweet when you’ve earned it.
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