I have been in Nova Scotia now for a couple of weeks and it has been a very strange week. I was surprised at how homesick I was after just one day. And I have to confess that my second day here was spent thinking why?
I have started meeting a few people and yesterday was simply great. It never ceases to amaze me what difference sunshine makes. Halifax is simply gorgeous in the summer and I loved every minute of yesterday. The only problem I had was I wearing a dark shirt and had to stay out of the heat to avoid sweat patches from my Fjallraven Kanken Classic – never a good sign in a business meeting!
When you leave home and start afresh in a place where no one knows you, it gives you the opportunity to reinvent yourself. When we are surrounded by people who know us, whilst it is very comforting, it is also stifling. They will notice and comment on things we do and it is of course easy to continue to conform.
People in Halifax are very friendly. On my second day here I met someone for lunch and his hospitality was simply amazing. I mentioned that weekends would be hard – and he invited me to spend the weekend at his house with his family. He was utterly sincere. Since then, the same hospitality has been offered by others and it makes you feel great. Being a small place (total population of 400,000 odd), there is a strong sense of community.
You notice some quirks as well. Lunch is at 12 – not 1! So whenever I have been invited to lunch, I have been asked to meet someone at around 11.30 or 11.45 – and your lunch is over and done with at 12.30 – that will take some getting used to. I am sorry to report as well that I have yet to find a place that does really nice coffee!
Going back to the hospitality theme, my favorite episode so far is simply opening up a bank account. My bank in London arranged for me to open an account here. I was met by the manager, who took me into his office (the lack of security was really noticeable) and who spent an hour with me going through everything and was able to issue me with a debit card there and then!
So – back to being an entrepreneur building the best air purifier for cigarette smoke removal. The lessons for me are that I imagine it is easier to start something new when no one is judging you by your past. I have always felt this is one of the reasons why immigrant communities tend to be entrepreneurial. You don’t really travel thousands of miles to not better yourself or to not give your family access to better opportunities. Countries which have large immigrant populations tend to be more entrepreneurial and vibrant and benefit as a result of that constant shot in the arm of energy.
So you may find it easier to move to a new place if you want to start a new business. If that sounds a bit too extreme (and I think it is!), you should try making a few changes in to your life, before you start a business. These changes could be anything from changing your wardrobe to going to the gym. Anything, small or large, that your friends and family notice. They may then comment on those changes rather than the big change of starting your own business. Doing something like moving countries or starting a business is scary enough without people reminding you all the time how brave you are! Because trust me – although meant as a compliment, it doesn’t help!