February 10th 2010
Following on from my look back at 2009 I wanted to share my plans for 2010. This might seem a bit late to talk about plans for the not-so-new year, but there are some big changes afoot, and I needed a little time to get my own head around them before sharing the news.
Leaving the big smoke
My partner North and I run our own business. It is just the two of us and we work from home. We rarely meet clients in person and when we do, we go to them or meet in town. We like living in Hackney, but we don’t feel like we’re taking advantage of what London has to offer any more.
We’d been thinking we might move out of London in a few years time but then a noisy neighbour moved in next door and ‘broke the camels back’. Having to put up with his loud bassy music for a few hours every afternoon made us sensitive to the rest of the noise surrounding us: the busy road; the live music at the pub opposite; the kids hanging out on the corner with their car stereos cranked up; the list goes on.
So this year we’ve decided to test out the theory that, as self-employed designers of the WWW, we can work from anywhere.
Our test is two-fold.
At the beginning of May we will be moving most of our belongings into storage and taking ourselves and our laptops to Vancouver. Thanks to the hospitality of North’s family, we’ll be living and working there for 3 months, with a visit to stay with friends in Chicago for a few weeks in June. And of course we’ll be taking a holiday while we’re there too (a week, on a little boat, touring round the wineries on the shores of Okanagan Lake, oh yes!).
At the beginning of August we’ll be flying back to London and will start looking for somewhere to live around the Northhamptonshire – Oxfordshire – Warwickshire border. We’ll be looking for somewhere big enough to allow us to work from home again. (We’ll try not to get too distracted by the countryside walks, the veg patch and the gardening.)
Brand refresh and website redesign
Our plan has some pros and cons with regards to our business goals this year. On the up-side: since we will be living rent-free for a few months, we thought this would be the perfect opportunity to put client work aside and work on our own website’s redesign. We’ve been wanting to look at rebranding ourselves, or at least doing a brand refresh for a while now. A big part of this job will include moving our website onto ExpressionEngine too. So we will not be taking on any new client projects between May to July, but we will continue doing small design jobs and website maintenance. At least that is the plan*.
*Since initial drafting this we’re already reconsidering this, as a new project has come up that we really don’t want to turn down. This is always the problem with redesigning your own website – you never feel like you can prioritise that work over client projects.
Expanding our team
The down-side of our plan is that we’ve been considering getting in some extra help, by way of a part-time administrator/office manager/book-keeper/project manager. (This is going to be tricky since we need a little bit of a lot of different roles. I don’t even know if you can get one person who can do all of that.) It seems like kind of bad timing on our part to be looking to hire someone when we are going to be away for 3 months, and moving location. Unless they can work remotely? Obviously I support remote working in general, but might this be the one role that needs to be ‘on location’? Or is this what VPAs are for? If you have any experiences or ideas about this please let me know in the comments.
The kind of view we hope to find in the countryside, found on Globrix One thing I am going to miss while we are away are the conferences. I won’t be able to go to FOWD and I’ll miss the first @media run by the Web Directions team. But I will still have the opportunity to go to dConstruct and I will definitely be attending European EECI2010, which I’m hoping will be in Leiden again. I did consider flying down to attend the San Francisco edition of EECI2010 since I’ll be on that side of the North American continent, but I think I’d rather go to the European conference so that I can meet more ‘local’ ExpressionEngine developers. I had been hoping that An Event Apart might be in Chicago while I’m there, but its in Boston this summer and I don’t think my conference budget will stretch that far this year.
I’ll be blogging here about how business goes while we’re on the road. Or you can check out our moving to the country blog for more on that side of things.
Have you tried taking your business ‘on-the-road’? Or have you upped sticks and moved your operations from an urban location to a more rural one? I would love to hear your experiences.