Running A Business In Ibiza by Pop digital founder Liam O’Dowd
My obsession with Ibiza started when I was just 5 years old. After seeing a feature on the island on a TV holiday program I begged and pleaded with my parents to take me there that summer. They set up an elaborate trick where I looked around the airport shop while my Dad checked us into a flight they had booked in secret. I had no idea we were going on holiday when we apparently snuck through passport control and onto an aeroplane illegally. Perhaps the magic and excitement of that little prank is the reason I love Ibiza and that’s why I came back every year after my first visit at 18, and moved here last year.
The move to Ibiza
Moving to Ibiza was always a bit of a dream for my wife and I, but when we found out we were expecting a baby in 2011, I knew I had to make some big changes in our life to make this dream come true for our new family. I already knew that seasonal work in Ibiza can make the winters difficult. I decided to set up my own marketing agency in the UK, with the plan that I could transfer my business to the Island and ensure I had a reliable income to support our young family all year round. Luckily, after a slow start, the business was a success and so was our move. Running a business in the UK is very different to Ibiza, and here are 5 differences I’ve picked up in the first 6 months:
Back in the UK there would be uproar if a petrol station was closed for a delivery during the morning rush hour, in fact it could easily cause a riot. If your local petrol station was closed on the run to work and you were lucky enough to have enough fumes in the tank, you would floor the accelerator and scream off to the next station, pleading to the Gods you’d still make it to the office in time. Here in Ibiza people are happy to sit outside the station while the delivery is made, chatting away and waiting patiently. This was the first subtle difference I noticed driving into the office one morning, and it still makes me smile to see people not giving a shit if they are 5 or 10 minutes late. After all, does it really matter?
Successfully established my business Pop Digital on Ibiza
Ah the siesta. Nothing conjures up evocative images of Spain like a lazy 3 hour long lunch. Of all the differences, this has probably been the hardest one for me to adapt to. Having UK clients who adhere to rigid 9-5 work hours, its often difficult to justify a 3 hour absence from the desk in the name of blending in with the locals, especially when that 3 hour lunch involves a few glasses of wine.
Fiestas in Ibiza
Fiestas, the Spanish equivalent of bank holidays, are numerous. Sometimes it feels like they come around on a weekly basis, which can be frustrating if you want to get something done! Ultimately it’s great to hear the bars and cafes buzzing with people chatting and enjoying themselves, even if you are on the way into the office for a Skype conference call with a client.
Working hand in hand with those lazy summer lunch breaks, it’s not uncommon to be working until 7 or 8 at night, even in the office. While back in the UK this might be most people’s idea of hell, in Ibiza, its not such a big issue. When you can leave the office at 7 and still have a few hours in the sunshine, watching the clock for 5:30 is a rarity.
I saved my favourite for last, but living and working on a small island has a lot of benefits when it comes to networking. The degrees of separation in Ibiza are greatly reduced, and it’s easy to find someone who comes recommended to help out with a job. It pays back in dividends too, and while networking was something I despised in the UK, in Ibiza, it comes naturally.
Paradoxically, you have to work a little bit harder in Ibiza to get things done and make a business successful, but somehow doing so feels that little bit easier. Once you get used to the complicated red tape and requirements, deal with the fact that everyone is out partying while you are working, and learn to stumble your way through a new language, running a business in Ibiza is a pleasure.
However if you are thinking about putting that next big idea into action, plan carefully and be sure it’s going to be successful. Finally, to keep your dreams in check, you should always remember this much-repeated saying: “To make a small fortune in Ibiza, you must bring a large one”
Thank you Liam for a great post. When you need some help with your business in Ibiza, or anywhere in the world, join our Ibiza Inside Coaching Membership. We will share with you personally how we set up Ibiza Inside and The Workout Club Ibiza