Why Relocating Won’t Necessarily Save Your Startup, Or Your Career

by Jeff Chenoweth on October 31, 2012

Almost a year ago to the day I packed my 1996 Mercury Sable, affectionately known as the “White Knight,” to the brim and began driving south down I-75.  I’d been out of college for a year and a half, had a full-time marketing position and a freelance business that was slowly turning out referrals.  I was doing fairly well, but felt as if I’d maxed out the resources and opportunities southeastern Michigan had to offer me.  I felt confined.  Stir-crazy.  Unfulfilled.  So I moved away.

The problem is, this in itself was not enough to solve my issues, which were mostly rooted in my relative newness to being a young professional who primarily worked from home.

From a lack of organization, to a perpetual obliviousness to terms like “budgeting” and “time management,” the post-college period I spent floundering in the Midwest was indeed, a situation I largely created myself.  I’ve come to realize this over the last year, as well as the fact that changing locations, as I chose to do, does in fact have it’s benefits, but does NOT change who you are and how you approach your professional and personal endeavors.

For instance, if you make excuses about a lack of business prospects in your current area, you’re likely to continue to do so in the next place you move.  If you sleep in until noon and work until midnight everyday, a spontaneous move isn’t going to cure that.  Discipline is, and it turns out that’s just as challenging to come by in one geographic location as it is in another.

Sure, moving away took me far from the economic disaster that is southeastern Michigan. But honestly, it took me from one state with a super high unemployment rate to another.

Sure, it got me away from an environment that had lead to some personally destructive routines and habits, like smoking cigarettes, drinking insubordinate amounts of coffee and beer, and coasting through a comfortable, yet unfulfilling work situation. But there are places to buy beer and coffee in Florida too, not to mention people to bum smokes off of.

In retrospect, moving from southeastern Michigan to southern Florida took me out of my comfort zone merely for a hot second.  Soon enough, the long drive was over, and I grew accustomed to the way palm trees looked. At that point, it was time to stray from my comfort zone again and step out into the world to grow my business.   Turns out the whole put-yourself-out-there-factor, which is a necessity in high-value networking and growth, is something I struggle with, and something that a change of scenery simply didn’t help me get over.

A year later, I’m moving away again, but for all the right reasons now, instead of… well, just because.  If you’re thinking about moving because you think it will provide a solution to all of your business woes, ask yourself the following questions before you tie your $7 IKEA coffee table to the roof of your car and drive off into the sunset.

  1.  Are you doing everything you can to maximize the potential of your current environment?
    If you’re not working to grow your network, learn new skills, and provide the best possible product, service and customer experience you can everyday, it’s probably the way you’re doing things that’s holding you back… not where you’re located.
  2. Is where you’re moving honestly a better fit for what you want to do?
    WHY?  How will it be the game changer you need? Specifics are important here.  If your best reasons consist of ideas like “meeting new people,” you should reconsider.
  3. Why are you looking for a change?
    Are you unhappy, unfulfilled, or uncertain about where you’re headed?  If so, what can you do TODAY, to work toward changing these things.

Moving away can be a great thing.  Travel, adaptability, independence and an ever-present focus on growing your personal network are some of the keys to becoming a successful well-rounded entrepreneur.  But the bottom line is, in most cases, you don’t have to move away to take a class, have coffee with a professional in your field, or meet new business prospects.  Remember that HOW you work is just as important, if not more important, than WHERE you work.




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  • http://twitter.com/katherine_raz Katherine Raz

    Great piece of advice that’s always stuck with me: wherever you go, there you are.