Written by Grace Lever
Why I realised I could run my business from anywhere – and how you can move from the city and not only be healthy and happy – but remain profitable
Australia is an overwhelmingly urban nation. Over 40% of people in Australia live in Sydney and Melbourne. Don’t get me wrong – I love these cities – they are fabulous, cosmopolitan and alive, but spending eight years in Sydney also got me down a bit.
Commuting for several hours a day and spending eye-watering amounts of money on rent and road-tolls just felt like hard work. I wanted to spend time with my family and friends but by the time I got home I wasn’t much fun to hang out with. I’m not complaining, and I understand I’m certainly not the first person to struggle with the demands a city places on them.
But one day I decided that I didn’t want to do it anymore. And furthermore – it didn’t matter! I’m self-employed – why was I putting myself through the hassle of the commute, when it wasn’t necessary?
So my husband and I decided to select six spots in Australia that we thought we might like to live. We went on a big trip checking each place out, and on arriving at the beautiful wine region of the Adelaide Hills, knew we’d found our new home.
In Spring 2014, we made the big move, and it was exciting but also a bit scary. Would anyone take me seriously if I didn’t have an office address in the CBD? Would clients still want my services or would they go to a competitor?
Two years on, I’ve never looked back. Not only am I far happier, but also my business is continuing to grow, even though I now only work a four-day week.
So here are my tips for how to develop a profitable business outside of the big smoke without sacrificing your lifestyle or wellbeing:
- Move as much of your business online as possible. If you were meeting clients weekly for briefings or consultations, why can’t you do this over Skype? They’ll probably be equally relieved that they also don’t have to travel long distances.
- Introduce automation software into your business. It’s simply not plausible to grow a business when you are replying to every email manually and I can’t stress strongly enough how valuable this software can be. Software such as GetResponse and Infusionsoft allow you to manage your email communications consistently and professionally while still allowing you to have a personal relationship with thousands of clients. By introducing this, you’ll be freed up to spend time on the aspects of your business that will generate more income.
- Consider hiring an intern or PA. Hiring staff is one of the scariest things I’ve ever done, and there is sometimes a fear that you won’t get the quality outside of the state capitals. But this couldn’t be more wrong – my team are fabulous, motivated and eager to grow the business with me! Plus – these days, there are so many incredible people looking for flexible opportunities that fit in with their life, so if you only need someone to a couple of days a week, there will be someone out there that fits the bill. And if not, consider a Virtual Assistant– the commitment from you is reduced and clients will never know that that person is not a staff member.
- Exploit the opportunities working outside of big cities offer. There are many government grants available for rural businesses so explore what is on offer within your state. Applying can be a challenging process, but someone has to secure the grant, right?
- Finally, accept that you will have to make occasional trips back to the city. But now when I go back to Sydney I LOVE it. Freed up from the daily grind, I embrace its buzz and activity and enjoy what the city has to offer way more than I did before I lived there. Try and combine work trips with some fun on the site and you’ll be so much more positive about your visit.
Any change can be terrifying, but I’m a strong believer that in today’s digital world, there is no need for many businesses to be location-specific.
I get that many people love working in the capital cities, and that nothing will drive these urbanites away. But if that’s not you, and like me, you prefer a quieter life, remember it doesn’t mean the end.
Being happier and more relaxed will mean you have a more positive outlook, which will surely reflect in the way you work. So if you’re thinking of making the move, go for it, it’s likely your business will thank you for it.
About Your Guest Blogger: Grace Lever is a digital marketing specialist and educator working with female entrepreneurs, helping them to create balanced, profitable, lifestyle businesses. She is the founder and director of GraceLever.com, which provides practical guidance and support to help female business owners across Australia and beyond.