Since starting my journey as a solopreneur, I’ve moved nine times. Seven of those moves have involved traveling at least 1,200 miles to get to my new home. One thing I’ve learned along the way is to never throw away a good box. Having a staple of sturdy packing materials on hand provides a sense of peace that I won’t be scrambling when the next move comes.
These transitions have also taught me that, while packing up your personal belongings and transporting them safely to your new location is one thing, changing your address as a business is another. If you find yourself in this same situation, here are a few tips for making the move of your home and one-person business go as smoothly as possible.
Make a “Change of Address” List
Any time you move, you want to notify the U.S. Postal Service so all of your mail forwards to your new address. You also want to do individual changes of address so everyone you deal with personally and as a business knows where to find you. This is especially important if you have clients who pay you by mail, of which I still have a few.
The moment I know that a move is ahead, I start my “change of address” list. I first write down all of my utility and service providers, noting which ones I need to cancel and start anew (electric, gas, water, etc.) and which ones I need to transfer (TV provider, security service). I then add all of the clients I work with regularly. Although I provide my services entirely online, some of my clients will require new tax forms with my most current address.
Other places you might want to include on your list are:
- Banking institutions
- Investment companies
- Insurance carriers, both personal and professional
- Companies you may be due a pension from
- Your tax accountant
- Cellphone carrier
- Professional memberships
- Any companies you have loyalty cards with, such as grocery stores and pharmacies
- Subscription services you use
Creating this list in advance gives me the ability to add to it as I go, reducing the likelihood that I will forget to do a notification. Then, about a week before the move, I work my way down this list. Most changes can be done online, making it super convenient.
Decide How Much Time You’ll Take Off
Another thing you want to do once you know a move is ahead is to determine how much time you’ll need off. This can vary based on a number of factors, such as how long it will take you to get from your current location to your new home, whether you’re moving yourself or hiring a company to handle the move for you, if you’ll have access to the items you need to handle your business (computer, printer, or other tools) until you can get your new home set up, and the amount of time you can afford to be off.
Taking time off as a solopreneur isn’t always easy. Not only don’t you get paid when you don’t work as a one-person business, but you also have clients who rely on you. So, taking time away requires juggling your need to handle your move-related obligations, while still meeting your work-related obligations. Sometimes this means squeezing in an hour here and there during the move to keep both afloat.
That said, be sure to give yourself enough time to navigate the move without causing yourself too much stress. Consider the time needed to pack, drive or fly time to the new location, and unpack once all of your things arrive. Also throw in the extra time you might need to start, stop, or change service providers which may require an actual phone call. (I spend 2-4 hours on the phone handling these types of issues with each move.)
If you’re changing states, include the time needed to get new driver’s licenses, register your vehicles, find new doctors and dentists, locate new grocery stores, and generally get your bearings. All of these will take time away from your work, so factoring that additional time in helps keep you from feeling overwhelmed.
How much notice you give your clients of your upcoming move-related time off can change depending on the type of service you provide. I generally notify mine 45-60 days in advance. This gives them time to get me any projects they will need during that time well enough beforehand to fit them all in. It also prevents a scenario in which they have an urgent content need that I can’t meet because I failed to tell them I’d be off.
Register Your Business in the New Location, If Needed
If you operate under an assumed name or a DBA (which stands for “doing business as”), you’ll need to register your business at the new location. This is generally done at the county level, so check to see what the process looks like and secure any forms before you make the move. That way, you’ll know exactly what you need to do and won’t have to go through multiple boxes to find any required documentation to complete the paperwork once you arrive.
You may also have to register at the state level if your business structure and/or service field requires it. One example of when this may be necessary is if you must hold a professional license to perform your service. These are typically held by the state. Getting your license in the new location ensures that you’re able to do your work legally after the move.
Be Ready for Some Hiccups
No matter how prepared you are, there are likely to be a few hiccups in your move. Your things don’t arrive as quickly as you thought, clients forget to change your address in their system, which causes a delay in payments, or a hurricane is headed toward your new location and you don’t know if you’ll be able to work once you arrive. (Yes, this happened during my last move.)
The more you realize that these types of things happen, the easier it is to take them in stride when they do occur. Not packing your workweek right after a move can help you get through these challenges without also trying to juggle a full workload. I always give myself a little extra time in my schedule, which keeps these small hiccups from turning into major emergencies.
Moving is stressful enough. When you are taking your business with you, it can add even more tension. Hopefully, these tips will make your upcoming move a little smoother, enabling you to enjoy the experience of starting the next chapter of your life in new surroundings.