My business attitude is combining frankness with empathy
Photo by Dmitry Plotnikov, Amsterdam, 2023
– Why did you start your business?
Back in 2021, I began helping clients to choose potential destinations for relocation around the world.
During the customer development stage, I discovered that most people weren’t choosing from as wide a range of options as they could have when deciding where to move. Rather, they would simply take an opportunity that came up, such as a job offer or a university placement. Even those who were searching based on particular criteria, e.g. better rule of law, lower crime rates, or a better business climate, seldom did substantial research beyond looking up a few city-ranking listicles. That often resulted in mistaken expectations about the destination, an overly narrow range of options, and haphazard decision-making.
I’ve seen people choose Spain for the sun and the sea without giving a thought to Portugal, Cyprus or the south of France; people fighting their way to move to the UK because they think it’s the only place in Europe where they can build their career while speaking English. I’ve seen people return home simply because they chose a place that didn’t suit their needs.
– And what is your solution?
I offer a more structured approach based on data. With each client, I begin by finding out the reasons for their move, as well as their individual preferences and limitations (including visa requirements). Then, using my models, I rank a range of destinations based on their criteria. Where possible, I also refer my clients to relevant advisors, lawyers, or headhunters who can help with their plan.
– Who are your clients?
The majority of my clients are skilled professionals and entrepreneurs. They are often looking for a better place to continue their career or start a new stage in their lives. These clients aim to be rational about such major decisions, so they usually consider numerous destinations. This is where analytics becomes vital.
Many of my clients could undertake the project themselves, but emigration is a complex process and they prefer to outsource some of the intellectual labour involved, which allows them to focus more on decision-making.
– How do you do that? Is there an app or an algorithm?
I am often asked why I don’t make an app. This was my first idea, but apps are impersonal, and when it comes to major life decisions, it takes detailed, high-trust conversations to understand which of my clients’ criteria matter the most to them. In some cases, clients made requests that I could have never foreseen, e.g.regarding social attitudes or cuisine. I even had a client who wanted to know where he would have the clearest view of the stars because he is interested in astronomy.
– Why "Greener"?
I called the project “Greener Relocation”, a reference to the saying, “the grass is always greener on the other side”. Since we compare so many places (right now I am considering a hundred cities around the world), I daresay we do know where the grass is greener for each individual client.
– How does branding help your business?
Branding and style are important to me for three reasons. First, the design of my reports affects how easily clients can read them. Branding, colour palette, and fonts play an important role here. Second, strategists and management consultants have certain professional standards when it comes to the style of their materials, since no one is going to have confidence in analysis that looks unappealing. Finally, clients who don’t come to me via referrals will be deciding whether to use my services based on my website, so I needed a brand that projects professionalism.
I received a few compliments from my audience when we released the new brand. Also, I immediately saw some difference in conversion rates.
– What is your attitude to your project?
Emigration is an emotional process involving a high degree of uncertainty, but I am able to cut through much of the confusion by combining data and emotional intelligence, combining frankness with empathy.