From Crane to Cam
As a family we decided to have a long term plan of relocating to Cambridge in the summer of 2023, however things never quite go to plan and here we are a year earlier than anticipated. I want to share some of the main aspects that affected me as a small business owner, a father and husband (not in order of importance ) over the past few months. Having been in London since 2006, I truly am surprised I lasted 16 years despite never even wanting to come to the smelly, dirty, rude, rushy rushy city that is London. But i must admit my views have softened over the decade and a half. Don't get me wrong I still dislike the busyness and the noise, and miss the big skies, countryside and seaside from growing up in Cornwall, but London has had a big impact on me as an adult. My entire adult life has been here, my entire career has been here, my entire time as a husband and a father has been here. But the planes were quite annoying! Going right over our house!
One of the most challenging aspects of the move was informing clients who I had worked with for a while and that being local was one of the strongest draws for creating a working relationship. Every single one decided to continue our partnership mainly due to the cloud based accounting and bookkeeping processes I had embedded since the day I started the business. Utilising the combination of Quickbooks Online and Google Workspace I have been able to establish reliable, efficient and simple bookkeeping processes that enable all parties to be both informed and in control of information. Weekly/Monthly virtual meetings keep everyone in the loop, and the use of shared documents and Quickbooks new 'Monthly Review' function for accountants has meant no drop-off in the quality of services offered. Some have stated they have seen increased efficiency using this model compared to a paper based one in the past. I am very proud to have retained all clients in Isleworth, even more so that 3 new clients (based around Isleworth) began working with us despite the move to Cambridge.
So many people to say goodbye to, and so many places to visit for one last time, not least South Street Cafe, Hei Hing, and Style Creep. On reflection it was tougher on my family than myself, as since leaving teaching I found my community shrunk, as well as being ready to leave London for about 10 years, with green fields and big skies calling me.
The move itself was not very stressful, but timed badly. I cannot recommend enough having movers do the packing for you. It really took the load off, especially as we had a wedding to attend near Tenby for 3 days prior to moving! The kids handled it brilliantly, and it helped having somewhere familiar to descend upon, especially with 2 cousins on hand to spoil them and look after them. For me one of the most important things was having my work stuff available for Monday, and fortunately the movers stopped off at the house with the office in and unpacked all my stuff ready for Monday and starting work. Unfortunately the office wasn't quite ready.
We had to make a decision about work space with me looking to grow my business. Having a room in the house wasn't really an option any longer, so it was either renting somewhere or building an office at the bottom of the garden. After weighing up the financial implications I decided it would be better to have the office in the garden. Over the past few years I have loved being able to work from home. Having the opportunity to do triathlon training throughout the day, being able to cook culinary delights with less stress, being able to have a nap, not having to commute etc, was too good to give up. We have a huge willow tree at the end of the garden and I could picture the office under there. Great in theory, but pigeons and squirrels seem to love it as a dance floor and toilet! Having a proper space to work; that isn't being crammed into a box room, is refreshing and a privilege. We have created a very clean and calm working environment that is suitable for the teams working style.
I never really considered the impact of the move on me, as I was more focused on the kids and the logistics of it. It was only after a couple weeks that reality kicked in. Imposter Syndrome was something I had dealt with a lot in my former career, and having to reinvent myself and start over back in 2019 was challenging, and the similarities with starting over in a new town were plain for me to see. Networking, meeting people, and small talk were all things I felt I was very good at as an educational professional, but in hindsight it was all part of my 'Mr Dyer' teacher persona. In an alien environment, and an industry I was a relative newbie, these things have become tougher. I assure myself that in time confidence will come with experience. It certainly has helped with a number of enquiries into services from local businesses in Cambridge since we arrived.
I was fortunate enough to not have to start my business over again in a new location, and this was a significant burden avoided. I can't imagine the stress and pressure if I had no clients upon arrival in Cambridge, and having to start all over again. Having that familiarity of my original clients to help me get into a new routine was settling, and once I was caught up with a backlog of tasks from the summer holidays and move, things certainly felt normal very quickly, but with one additional revolutionising the business.....
Over the past few months I have been working alongside Accountancy Learning to find and employ an apprentice as my first ever team member! Having spent a lot of my teaching career either being in charge of or working with trainee or newly qualified teachers,I felt it was my duty to carry forward this passion of mine into my business. After many applicants, we were able to shortlist down to 3 prospective who were invited to complete an informal interview and a skill test to ensure they knew the type of studying and tasks they would be partaking in on a regular basis. This process led to one stand out applicant (Marek), who I am pleased to say after a further formal interview, I was able to offer him an apprenticeship for his accountancy studies for AAT Level 4. Since he began (in early September) he has made excellent progress learning about our clients and how best to support them with their bookkeeping needs. He is currently working towards becoming a licensed bookkeeper over the next 6 months, with the long term aim of earning a license in accountancy. Marek will be writing next month's blog about how he has settled in, found his studies, and the benefits of an apprenticeship.