When the situation is never right.
Why we never waited for the “right situation” before making the move to Berlin and launching our start up.
I was listening in on a Skype conversation my husband was having with his brother in Germany. What?! I was “working” and they were nearby. It would have been rude NOT to eavesdrop.
My husband, a constant encourager, asked his über talented brother what was stopping him from going ahead and starting his own fashion label? He had amassed sufficient experience in the industry by working with Hugo Boss, Daniel Hechter and was now working to design uniforms for all government sectors.
My brother in law responded with,
“I will start when the situation is right.”
That got me thinking of mine and Justin’s three major life changes and what gave us the chutzpah (any chance to use that word really!) to do the things we did and are currently doing. As I’m fairly sure we didn’t wait for the situation to be right.
Life Change One: Berlin 1.0 (we moved to Berlin twice)
We’ve (luckily) lived in Berlin twice. The first time we moved was a lot more spontaneously than the second. In 2009, our UK working-holiday visa ran out and we weren’t ready to head back home to Oz. Justin who grew up for part of his life in Germany, spoke German and I’d heard Berlin was an interesting place so we jokingly threw around, “what about Berlin”? Within a week, that became our reality. We booked our ticket to Berlin and packed ourselves a suitcase each and headed towards our new home city. With hope in our hearts and currywursts on our minds, this was how right our situation was before moving.
- No Accommodation — We booked a one week stay at an apartment in Kreuzberg and gave ourselves the week to find a rental apartment.
- No Employment Prospects— I was freelancing as a digital designer in UK and Justin wanted to scope out business opportunities in Germany so we figure that Berlin being the hub of creativity and rising as one of the top city for start-ups, one of us would find something.
- Finances — we had savings in the bank but didn’t want to burn through them so we gave ourselves 3 months of savings to see if we could stay on longer.
- Limited Language — Justin was fluent, and if you consider “Ich bin ein Berliner” and “Ja genau” relevant, then I was conversational.
- Temporary Visa — we had 3 months of a tourist visa to get ourselves sorted for a longer stay.
Life Change 2: Baby Z
Anyone that asks “ are you prepared for the baby” — has never had a baby. There is never a perfect time or situation to have a baby. There are planned and unplanned babies born every day. What remains similar to all those parents is that fact that their situation, surroundings and environment was never perfectly “worked out” before the baby came along. As my dad says, “as long as you and Justin are there for Baby Z and he feels that safety, nothing can hurt or harm him.” My dad obvs forgot about lego blocks lying around haphazardly, but I think you get the point.
Life Change 3: Our Start-Up
Z was 2 months old when I told Justin we should put our thoughts into practice and try and build this product we had talked endlessly about. My rationale was that I had one year of maternity leave that I wanted to make full use of (as if Z wasn’t already work enough). And the added benefit of the baby not knowing how to do much else than lay on his back meant we would have oodles of time on our side, right?— so let’s do this! Oh, the naivety! A month away from launch and I still can’t believe that we chose the chaos of the first year of my son’s life to launch the start-up. This was how right our situation was before starting to work on our product idea.
- A newborn — I had a constantly hungry, seemingly famished, 2 month old that thought my boobs were his life source and play centre and that sleeping more than 2 hours at a stretch was overrated.
- Health challenge — Baby Z also had a tiny heart variation for which we had countless appointments and hospital admissions to juggle around. Baby Z is great with this tiny heart variation, but it took a lot of appointments and scans and tears to get him to this point.
- No money — we had finances to support our living costs but nothing set aside specifically for our start up costs.
- No coding knowledge — Neither myself or Justin had any idea how to start an online business. Justin had always started offline businesses with a kind of savvy that neither of us had for the online world. Yes, I am a digital strategist (see what I did there?) and know how to get our business out there — but how the hell do we build it in the first place?
And even if you fail, trust me, the journey and the mistakes will be worth it.
Looking at all three life changes, I would say the circumstances weren’t optimal and definitely not perfect. But we tried it anyway and gave it a good ol’ fashion go! We are both the better for it. Even amongst the tension, tears and tantrums (and that was just between us, not the baby), we came out a stronger, more challenged and worldly unit. And I wouldn’t do anything to change that. I know that not everyone has the same support we have had in these different instances — but my general take away is that, not much will come about whilst waiting for your situation to be right. If you want your situation to change, don’t wait for it to change. Change it. Or at least make moves to change it. I strongly believe, with a strong intention in place and a healthy obsession to “make it work”, you’ll get there. And even if you fail, trust me, the journey, the friends made, mistakes and anecdotes will be worth it.
I’m sure there are more risk-averse ways to do the things we did and are currently doing— but that certainly would have taken the fun out of things. Life was made to be an adventure and we promised ourselves that we’d go on it together. Luckily for us, we now also have a mini adventurer to take along with us.
Note: If you want to know how we battled our way through Berlin or the start up world, feel free to get in touch firstname.lastname@example.org.
I write about my time as a 35 year old new mum to little one year old Z, navigating through life as a brown girl in a predominantly white world, and my struggles and triumphs whilst launching my start-up with my husband. You can find my other ramblings here: https://medium.com/@therealsureka/ and keep track of our start-up here: www.styylr.com. If you think this might be helpful for others on their entrepreneurial or parenting journey, recommend this article and share to your hearts (and my hearts) content.