Observation | Monocle

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Allow me to set the scene. It’s late August and you’ve just ventured down to your local newsstand to pick up a few magazines for the final weekend of your summer break. After a bit of poking and perusing you settle on a copy of Donna Hay because you’re going to be cooking lunch for 12 people tomorrow and you need something that’s easy and breezy to prepare. You also pick up a copy of The New Yorker because you’ve still got Monday to yourself and you’re thinking about spending the entire day parked out on the jetty reading and making lists for your return to work.

Before you exit the shop you notice that the newsagent has a fresh new bundle he hasn’t unwrapped and on top of it is the September issue of MONOCLE, so you ask him to throw in a copy along with the very sunny cover belonging to the latest Spanish AD. As you stroll back to your bike and toss the mags into the basket you spy a little shop across the street with a “For rent” sign tacked inside the window. It’s a dinky little shop that you have never noticed before but you like the gold-tinted aluminium fittings on the front, the scalloped awning and the slightly recessed bay windows. What was it before? What’s it going to be? Hopefully the new tenant won’t mess with it too much and will preserve what they find.

Back at your summer base you spread out the magazines on the table, pull a chilled bottle of Forst from the fridge (it’s 12.03 so you’re allowed your first beer of the day) and wander onto the lawn with your new copy of MONOCLE. You’re intrigued by the furry entrepreneurs on the cover and wonder if the magazine’s creative director was perhaps on the sauce well before lunchtime for much of July. You give the spine a good crack and start to survey it from front to back. Should you commit to reading it now or let it warm up in the sun for a while first?

You pause in section A for a bit and decide you’ll come back to David Plaisant’s story on the world’s tiniest territorial entity and flick ahead to see what’s in the fashion pages; then you get caught by the Expo pages devoted to a selection of very inviting-looking company retreats. Before too long you’ve made your way to the fridge for a second beer, you’ve slipped into some swimwear and you’re now on your lounger lost in the pages of the issue.

The gentle theme of starting and running your own business is exciting and you enjoy reading about lessons learnt and the mission behind an interesting group of start-ups. As you dip in and out of the pages you have a giddy sense of adventure that’s mixed with a nagging sense of unease. Is it an early onset of post-holiday depression? Is the lunch for 12 proving to be a bad idea?

Perhaps you are realising that the new post you signed on for a year ago is not the gig you were hoping for. Yes, it was exciting at the time (it’s always nice to be courted and have your talents recognised and rewarded) but somehow the stock options and the prestige aren’t quite so alluring when you think about the stifling corporate culture, the slow decision-making and the general lack of freedom you’ve been presented with.

You try to put all of this to the back of your mind and remember that everyone is impressed that you were offered a job at one of the world’s most respected companies. You also think about that all-important share price and what it will mean when your stocks vest. Perhaps it’s time for a dip in the sea to cool down and clear your thoughts? Without breaking stride you march across the lawn and straight down the jetty before plunging into the dancing sea.

Then it hits you: it’s that little shop across from the newsagent that’s been bothering you. In fact, it’s been swirling about in your head ever since you pedalled back to the house. What if you didn’t have to worry about what would become of it because you have just the idea for it? What if you rang the number, met the landlord, haggled over the price and set up your own shop? And what if you decided to wind down your new gig and open up the business you’ve been thinking about for some time without quite being able to picture how it would come together?

Standing on the jetty you pull on your shirt, step into your Birkis and walk briskly up to the house. It’s decided: you’re going to ride back into town, ring the number and see if the rent, mixed with a few other lifestyle alterations, will add up. As you speed down the street on your bike you’re already thinking about logos and packaging, the soon-to-be former colleagues you might bring with you and where you might open your second branch.

Sometimes you need to just grab it and go for it. This issue is dedicated to starting your next venture. Enjoy.

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