There’s obviously a high cost of living in SoCal. So it’s no surprise that loads of people have a side hustle or three running. There’s also a large amount of creative minded, multi-passionate people here in San Diego, and so to be confined to doing just one thing becomes counterintuitive. People know they can play in multiple areas of work, and not have to give up doing the things that they love.
The trick is remaining balanced in the middle of it all. The old days of doing just one, okay to well paying job and sticking with it for decades has passed. Here in San Diego, it’s not hidden anymore. So many people do what they do, and then do their second job that they love, with no concern about people knowing they run multiple directions with their work. Making the transition from rigid to flexible is a choice. It’s a lifestyle to be lived. That means you’re likely to work 6 days a week, and that’s okay, because you’re calling the shots, going where you want to go and doing what you want to do.
As a small business owner, you have to understand that the margin you need (and we talked about this in episode 4) must be a priority. You have to schedule time to be healthy, to be with family & to hang out with friends. Otherwise, you’re hustling and killing yourself for no reason. Respect yourself & others will respect you.
Choosing Your Where
San Diego is a great place in regards to choosing an environment to live in, too. If you want urban, we have it. If you want urban-boho with a beach, we have that. If you want mountains, trails & open space, we have that, too & most everything in-between.
San Diego is made up of so many distinct, little areas. Some, like the downtown area & the East Village, have been transitioning. They are walkable spaces that are now being populated with new shops, businesses (like Beta Haus Studio) and residential areas. There are loads of advantages to location, whether it’s what’s available within walking distance, access to highways, public transit and so many other amenities. There’s a lot to take into account.
Some neighborhoods are hungry for new businesses. For example, San Diego is a brewing hub. There are areas of town where that industry has become more of a focus. Old manufacturing spaces & dated buildings are being reinvented and new life is coming in behind them. And gentrification is definitely a thing, too. People with the best intentions are moving into neighborhoods, hoping to see new businesses come in, to create community where people had pulled back into their homes due to other issues.
And there are other growing pains that come with these changes. There is a growing need for housing in San Diego, but the number of Air BnB’s continues to increase. Some people use them as their side-hustle, it’s their supplemental income. For others, there is an attitude of “if it’s available to buy, it can be an Air BnB.”
However you slice it, you need to be comfortable wherever you are. Be productive, love your neighborhood well & be a good neighbor in it, too. Choosing your location is going to have a longterm impact on your business. Think about the people you are trying to reach. If you’re a brick & mortar location, where will they interact with you? Will they like coming to your location, bringing their clients to your location? Is it clean? How’s the parking & traffic? Does it feel safe? Are there good places to eat nearby? Think about what you would want in your location if you were seeking your own services & then look for that space. Even if it needs a little elbow grease, it’s totally worth it to be in the right space.
We love playing spot the tourist here. Cassandra and her friends play “spot the lobster” in the summer during our May haze & June gloom. It’s grey, it’s overcast & you’re still getting roasted alive. In the fall and winter, everyone in bikinis and board shorts on the beach while the natives are in jeans & jackets tend to stand out, too. It’s part of living here, just like the permanent flip flop tan lines we all wind up with.
Does your business cater more to people who are in town daily? Are you seeking to build a long term business/client relationship? Then maybe that busy, trendy area isn’t where you want to be. There may be so much transition that people who stick around don’t even go to those areas. Maybe the tourist traffic is a bother, or parking is impossible. Think about the barriers to business that seemingly busy places can bring. Maybe being on the fringe of those busy areas is better than being in the thick of it all. Maybe, you’re better served in a quiet business park or office building. Think long term. Think credibility. Sexy is good, but it’s not everything.
Everyday you see the water is a good day
San Diego is one of those cities where the location builds appreciation. “You don’t have to get in the water,” Cassandra said, “you don’t even have to get in the sand. You can see it and it you can say ‘It’s all going to be okay.’” Outside of San Diego is okay to visit, but San Diego is everything to people who live here. So much so that the people who live here tend to forget how other people even live where they live. It almost stops making sense to live in another way. Everyone loves being here…for the most part.
We had our adjustment period when we moved here. But once that ‘settled in’ feeling hit, we really had that moment of “Oh, this is great.” We travelled up to San Francisco, all through L.A. and when we got back to San Diego, we had that feeling of “This is home.”
When you’re setting up your business, you need to be comfortable there, too. If you’re an accountant, don’t go set up shop in the artists district if that’s not your vibe. If you’re an artist, don’t go set up in the financial district. Common sense goes a long way when it comes to choosing your location, but you need to fit in to become a fixture.
But then again, sometimes being super different is a draw, too. Give yourself time to think it through & weigh it out.
Getting outside of your bubble
Cassandra works with a lot of clients that are relocating here. Sometimes it’s exciting, but sometimes there’s a lot of fears & concerns. But when she engages with their interests, what they like to do, they find out just how much there is to do here. As Cassandra says, “You’re not just meant to cocoon up in your house every day. San Diego is your backyard. San Diego is your playground, so where do you want to be, what community really leverages what you love to do and connects with you in your heart & mind…and helps you cut that commute time down.”
Plugging into a community helps you feel like you haven’t given up so much as you transition into your new space. Getting to know your neighbors, in that community that’s a good fit for you, that integration becomes a very natural thing. You meet people in pubs & restaurants, churches & parks and you see the same people over and over again. These local spots help resonate the home feel for so many people, & small businesses help fuel the community. There are areas of town where chain restaurants are super hard to find. We tend to get more excited about our neighbors getting to express themselves, and we can support them as they add value into our community.
Cassandra was pretty emphatic about supporting “your" local spot. If you like it, then you’d better be there at least once a week, supporting them and making sure to encourage your friends to do the same. Those businesses need that body in the chair. We need to rally around those spots so they’ll be here for others later. And if you’re a proponent for their business, simply because you like them & what they do, then they’ll likely go to bat for you, too.
Diversity in the marketplace is good. Even in San Diego, in our suburban neighborhoods, the transition is beginning to trend toward local coffee shops, & new businesses are coming in more often. People are reinventing their community and creating that local draw again. It really is great to see these businesses open that are in cahoots to see their communities stick together, kids running around, families out and around. People still want that place to relax, unwind and we’re seeing that coming around more and more.