Why would you relocate a one year old business from London to Amsterdam?
June 2017 was a fantastic time of year. Kicking off the summer in true London style with rooftop bar openings and street food markets popping up ready to ply greedy sun-seekers with Pimms. The other reason that June was so enjoyable was that the business we never thought we’d set up turned one year old. This was both totally exciting and quite terrifying in equal measure because if something has worked for a year … It’s safe to say it should carry on working. We have spent the past twelve months establishing our company, building up a roster of clients and getting bedded into the ‘running your own business’ game.
One week ago we packed up our laptops and our #girlsdonegood pencils and set sail for Amsterdam. A place where we only know a handful of people and have done one project. The question a lot of people have asked us is … Why? One excellent source of justification can be found via The Drum. Their article and, in fact, whole issue dedicated to this pretty little city provides a rather comprehensive display of benefits... particularly creative ones (see point 4).
For the purposes of efficiency, I decided to layout my responses to this very understandable question in four digestible answers…
1) Being stagnant is not part of our business plan
It’s very easy to stand still. To get comfortable and become completely reliant on your routine. This is not what we signed up for. One of the most liberating things of freelance life was freeing ourselves of our 9-5 ‘desk job’ routines. We were able to truly readdress the work/life balance and create a way of working that fitted in with our lives as they are now. If we’re not careful, we could end up slipping right back into something rigid which would not only be annoying for us but it might risk compromising the flexibility that we offer to our clients as a small, agile business. So rather than drift back towards a desk … We decided to go Dutch. And turns out we're not the only ones, according to The Evening Standard, a whole flock of creative folk are heading to Amsterdam as it's been voted the best thing since London post-Brexit.
2) Risky business
Taking risks has been a huge part of our success. The biggest one being, setting up the whole thing in the first place. I think taking that initial, uncertain plunge has given us the confidence to take other risks. It’s like ice skating, until you fall over once and realise that that frosty surface isn’t going to crack under your weight and open up the gates of hell then you’ll just cling to the sides. The mistakes we’ve made or the risks that haven’t quite paid off have taken away that gut-wrenching fear of what could go wrong when everything doesn’t go quite right.
3) Grab life by the (Dutch) horns
A large part of our business is about balance. We truly believe in the benefits that can be felt when you make your work fit your life, not the other way round. We have both worked unbelievably hard to make Mac&Moore a success over the past 15 months but we’ve also spent quality time with our families, we’ve worked weekends when a friend has just been in town on one Tuesday afternoon. We’ve allowed flexibility into our working lives and it has led to good results all round. We’ve met a few people who have made the leap to the Netherlands and they’ve reinforced how amazing the quality of life is in Amsterdam and as creative people, the amount of amazing new ideas we are seeing emerge from the area is incredibly exciting.
4) Next stop ... Amsterdam
Since Brexit, a selection of large global businesses that we all know and couldn't live without e.g Uber and Netflix have shifted headquarters over here and it is also "the fourth-largest creative employer in Europe, by number of staff, behind the much bigger cities of London, Paris and Milan". We have no idea what our (kicking and screaming) departure from the EU will mean for our ability to live and work across Europe so we're hopping on the creative bandwagon and making the most of the opportunity to live here while we still can.
So we’re going to go for it, buy ourselves a bike (despite me having precisely no coordination whatsoever) and take the next risk. The past year has been the most fulfilling, satisfying, difficult and rewarding for both of us … and here’s hoping the next will only add to the adventure!