When we moved from Vancouver to Niagara, Katie and I had the unusual problem of also displacing our business.
We have run our own company, High Concept Design & Media Services for more than 5 years and in moving from BC we also were losing our business connections, relationships, networking, education & workshops as well as local clients and contractors.
This amounted to risking the very fabric of what we worked for as a company, great long-term relationships that we counted on for business development, referrals and the qualified help that fulfilled the bandwidth requirements of our small business. Our move to Niagara in many ways meant we were not only alone, but we were nearly starting from scratch.
I say “nearly” because we brought a handful of our biggest and best clients along with us. We provide marketing and design services for email, web and print and we create most of our work digitally, deliver it digitally and invoice the clients digitally. In fact, for almost every one of our existing west coast clients, our relationship is no different working from Niagara than when we were in the Pacific time zone.
Business and the way we conduct ourselves on a daily basis has changed considerably over the past decade. Our technology has changed the way we conduct business, create content, the services we can charge for and it definitely impacts the “where” part of our business. In many cases, a full day of work can be done at a coffee shop, the cottage or in transit.
Technology and businesses that work in the “idea” space (writers, programmers, content developers, bloggers) comprise a new class of businesses that are operated from nearly anywhere and change the paradigm of the kind of businesses that are popping up in any and all geographies. The owners of these kind of businesses get drawn to locations based on what they want from their day to day life rather than necessarily where the work is.
The problem involved with businesses like ours is we miss the daily interaction that comes from a workplace: i.e. coffee breaks, spring-boarding of ideas, troubleshooting, and generally the co-operative and give-and-take nature of being around like-minded people.
In May, the Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce (GNCC) put on the Niagara Economic Summit 2012 (NES2012). The nature of this inaugural event was to engage in a new dialogue for businesses of the region. This was a full day of inspiration, conversation, criticisms and the commitment to start taking steps to address the issues presented.
There was no real surprise regarding the nature of complaints – a lot of fingers pointing and regulations and political bodies – but at the end of the day there were some voices asking great questions and still some other suggesting some alternatives to the status quo. The results of this event will be seen as time unfolds.
A change in the status quo has been the growing number of voices from the idea space. Voices like Trevor Twining:
Trevor Twining is a freelance web developer and team lead who specializes in helping create hyperproductive, remote teams. He’s the coordinator of Niagara Coworking, a local initiative to help freelancers and other independent creatives establish and operate a shared, collaborative space.
This is a video Trevor recorded of his own initiative to address his concerns on the evening prior to the Niagara Economic Summit 2012. These are the kind of things Trevor does that got him chosen as one of Niagara’s 40-under-40 in 2012.
I highlight this because Trevor represents the 21st century entrepreneur. An idea guy young enough to have passion and optimism but old enough that he has a home, a family and evolved moral ideals he is willing to use as his compass.
In participating with the Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce and Niagara Coworking I have been fortunate to be exposed to other great Niagara professionals with the same level of passion and determination that Trevor has. I am confident that these individual voices are building volume and momentum by interacting with one another. I am also convinced that momentum will lead to real and measurable change for the good of business in Niagara.
Regardless of the nature of your business if you are interested in participating in a free give-and-take between people who have more than ideas but the will to put their ideas into action, you would be rewarded in joining us for a coffee at Niagara Coworking held at Mahtay Cafe in St. Catharines: