If you’ve followed our journey for very long at all, you know we move a LOT.
The military loves to re-plant us and they do it often. But over the last nine years I’ve developed some tricks for making it happen almost seamlessly. OK, almost.
Several months ago I was asked to write a piece on re-locating for Successful Military Wife and since it’s that time of year again, I thought this would be a great chance to dust off those reminders on how to make your move with a business without losing your sanity. So read on and take notes, then let me know how you’re moving your business this summer!
Solidarity Mil Spouse sisters!
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to party with Giffords Ice Cream….more on that later. *wink*
Re-posted from Successful Military Wife
Hello! I’m Stefanie, the girl behind the shop Abby Maddy, and author of the blog Abby Maddy Inspired. I’m a mama to two preschoolers, self taught seamstress, designer in training, entrepreneur with an absolute passion for business –and I’m an Army wife of eight years. I was thrilled when I was asked to guest post about our most recent move, and today I’m sharing a few tips with you on relocating your business from my blog series “Work at Home Mommy”
Back in July my family made PCS #5, taking us to our sixth home in just eight years. In addition to readying our then two and four year old for the move, as well as prepping our home for rent, finding us a new place to live, sorting through and organizing our shipment, and making travel arrangements, preparing my business for the move is always at the top of my PCS “to do” list. And while moving a business from place to place it is no small task, I have learned over many moves that if the necessary prep work is done ahead of time, I am able to minimize down time, sustain momentum, and preserve my sanity.
Here are my Top 5 Tips for Relocating Your Business.
1) Plan ahead. And know your plan. I cannot stress enough the importance of preparing yourself and your business as soon as you know you’ll be moving- or even before there’s a move in your future! For our last move I began planning seven months out for our Summer PCS. Back in January my husband and I sat down, mapped out the year, and made a generic plan for when I would go on “hiatus” as well as plan for how I would re-open the shop. At the time, we didn’t know where, or really when we would move, just that it was on the horizon for us later in the year. Once we had firm dates, a location and orders, I was able to revise my plan, insert a time frame, and start putting my plan into action. Of course, the military doesn’t always give you seven months of notice for a PCS, so having a generic plan of action that you can pull out whenever duty calls helps to lessen the stress associated with moving your business, an inevitable part of military life.
2) Work Ahead. Is your business seasonal or cyclical? Are there certain markets, expos or bazaars that are crucial to your bottom line? Will you be moving during a time when your business would normally be extremely busy? As a handmade shop, my busiest season begins in early Fall and carries me through the holidays. Just the thought of having to stop and move in November or December is enough to make my stomach flop. And while our most recent move was during my Summer slow time, we once moved 3,000 miles away just three weeks before Christmas! A disruption like that could easily destroy a fragile young business, but if you plan ahead- and then work ahead- you can assure that you wont miss out on important seasonal sales. Working ahead can be difficult and tiresome, and you will essentially be taking on two work loads, so it may mean pairing down on current projects or slower seasons in order to meet demands for later in the year. But by determining your shops peak times, you can better identify the impact that your move will have on your business and then schedule your work accordingly.
3) Never, ever, ever let the movers pack your office or studio. While I LOVE the ease of having movers and packers wrap, pack and transport our household goods, I never let them pack my office or studio. One reason is because I think of my sewing machines as my children, and they get lovingly padded, wrapped and packed into the car WITH ME. Not only would I be heart broken if something happened to them, but I would also be out of business for a while. But there are countless other reasons to pack your own office, beginning with privacy. Just as they don’t pack our personal office items, I don’t want anyone packing my business office files, taxes, bookkeeping, etc.. I also want to make sure that my beautiful (and expensive) fabrics are not exposed to dampness or odors such as cigarette smoke. And I can honestly say that we have never had packers or movers that didn’t smoke. But most importantly I want to be sure that I can find and unpack my studio boxes right away- sometimes even before our household good arrive! It lets me get back to work quicker, and it eases my stress levels to know there’s one less room of boxes to tackle. You can always claim a small U-haul or truck as part of a partial DITY (Do it yourself) move to be reimbursed. Just remember, the up-front investment in time and money pales in comparison to what it would cost should your boxes get lost or damaged. So plan to pack up yourself.
4) Make your work space a priority. For most families, the master bedroom is the last room to be unpacked and set-up after a move- unless you happen to have a home office, and then I’m pretty sure that’s the last room to be opened and organized. It’s easy to let your work space get pushed aside in favor of finding the sheets, plates and towels. After all, those are day to day necessities. But be sure that you do eventually unpack your office- and the sooner the better. For me, unpacking my studio is my reward for tackling the endless stack of dish packs in the kitchen. I love unwrapping bolts of fabric, and jars of notions and placing each roll of ribbon in its drawer. I love setting up my desk and hanging up my calendars and inspiration boards and designing a beautiful place to work. I set aside a few evenings after the kids are asleep to unpack, decorate and organize my work space so that when the time comes for me to return to work I can get back to business right away, instead of digging though boxes for my tax files the night before quarterlies are due.
5) Hit the ground running. There are certain things that you will need to do right away to begin re-establishing your business such as updating business cards, promotional materials, website info, shipping accounts, banking accounts, PO Boxes, etc.. All of which can be a major time drain unless you have a system for ensuring it all gets done. Personally, I have kept a master binder with multiple copies of checklist inside since our very first PCS eight years ago. For each move, I pull out a fresh checklist and begin working my way down until I am sure I have updated everything. I also keep templates made of my business cards and promotional materials so that when necessary I can update a phone number or address and submit for printing without having to re-design the entire product. Several weeks before a move I begin reaching out to local organizations, blogs and social outlets in the area that I think may be a good place to advertise or promote my business. Often times Spouses Clubs, the Chamber of Commerce, Tourist Bureaus and Women’s organizations can be a great source of information and suggestions on upcoming bazaars, events and expos to bring exposure to your business in the local area. Be prepared at all times with a business card and a 30 second explanation of what you do and don’t be afraid to ask for referrals or recommendations. Local economies depend on hard working entrepreneurs, so strive to become an active and positive part of your new home and you will likely find that the community will embrace you and your business.
Remember, while frequent moves can be both exhausting and challenging, they also provide a unique opportunity for growth. Invest in organizing and preparing your business now with the five tips listed above and then jump into action once you’ve arrived in your new home. Once you’re able to fully focus on working and growing your business instead of just re-starting your business after every move, you’ll be able to rest easy knowing that you are planting the seeds of success all along your journey.