Disclaimer: This post is for informational purposes only. If you are moving a business, I encourage you to consult your attorney, accountant, and state and local government guidelines before setting up a business in a new state.
In my 10+ years as a photographer, I’ve watched multiple photographers struggle as they moved their businesses from one state to another. Now that I’ve done that move myself, I know the do’s and don’ts. In this post, I am sharing with you the steps I took in relocating my business!
When I was on the sidelines watching my fellow entrepreneurs pick up and re-establish themselves in new communities, I used to breathe a sigh of relief, thinking that’s something I would never have to do. It looked rough!
Fast forward to last year and all of a sudden I found myself doing it too. I relocated from Colorado to South Dakota and took my business with me.
First, I want to give a big shout out to Rapid City — it became my home overnight (literally) but it has also quickly felt like home and I am so grateful for that. Feeling at home so quickly helped reassure me that I’d made the right decision to relocate.
So, how did I do it? Well, in all honesty, I am still doing it! Re-establishing yourself in a new area doesn’t happen overnight, especially if the two locations are geographically separated (like moving between states). It’s a work in progress.
While I have official set up shop in my new home state and have completed all of the legalities of moving my business, I’m still constantly working on marketing myself, getting my name out there, and finding my rightful place in the swing of things (see Step #5 — it’s a big one).
But before we jump too far ahead, let’s start with Step #1.
In the early stages of relocating a business — before you leave your old residence, even — start looking for ways to connect with other professionals in your new location. Introduce yourself and start building relationships right away.
Check social media platforms. If there aren’t any groups that exist already, create your own!
Do this as early as possible, and by ASAP I mean as soon as you know you’re moving. I’ve found that many professionals value community over competition and will band together to help each other out.
Another thing you can check off your to-do list before actually setting foot in your new state is researching the laws for opening a business. This is an important step and definitely one to run past your attorney.
I’m amazed at how different the processes to register and start a business in a new state can be. You don’t want to be blindsided by your new locale’s regs — so do your research early!
Your new community is different than your old one, in more ways than one — including the demographics. What do people value and invest in? What’s the going rate for your type of photography in your new state?
Find out what the market is like for your specialty and adjust your prices accordingly.
While you are looking at how others price their services/products, take note of how many other entrepreneurs run a similar business like yours. You’ll need to figure out how your brand fits in with the new population.
When I moved, I realized that there aren’t very many people in my new city who specialize in headshots and brand photography — great news for me as it’s a new niche to explore, and an opportunity for me to educate future clients about the importance of clean, modern headshots and personal brand photography.
I also learned I had to adjust my online marketing strategy for SEO purposes. For example, I changed up my hashtags, and I had to look into different social media platforms that are more prominent here.
Since brand photography is fairly new here, not many people are searching that specific niche. So, I’ve started to use the more popular “Black Hills Photographer” instead of “Black Hills Brand Photographer” or “Rapid City Headshot Photographer.” That way people can actually find me.
It takes some time to understand the local market, but it’s worth taking the time to do the same sort of research and reflection.
Also keep in mind the cultural differences and how they affect your business. How will your brand be perceived and welcomed? You want to have an understanding of the local feel, the vibe, the ambience.
What are the socio-economic dynamics? Does that affect who your dream client might be? Do you need to adjust your pricing for your new locale?
Once you arrive in your new state, it’s time to start getting your name out there with the public. Put on your PR hat, show up to events, introduce yourself, and gift your products and services (selectively, of course).
This will help you get the word out that you’re in town — you exist — and you’re available to help people with their needs. It gives you an opportunity to showcase your product and highlight your commitment to the community.
They’ll love you in no time!
I saved the best for last. The final step in relocating your business is to continue to serve your clients in your previous location! This might seem a bit counter-intuitive, but I’m a firm believer this can work to your advantage.
Think of your relocation as an expansion of your service area (and advertise it that way too). Your former clients will feel loved instead of left.
Although it might not be feasible for everyone, working in two different states has worked out well for me and allowed me to be less stressed as I grow my client base here in South Dakota.
Bonus: Going back to Colorado also means that I get to see friends and family on a regular basis too!
It’s your turn! Moving a business can feel daunting at first — I know, there is quite a bit to do — but it is all doable, especially with this simple relocation guide. Try not to get caught up in the “overwhelmed” feeling of it and instead take it one step at a time.
If I can do it, you can do it! I hope you gained some insight into the whole process and feel more confident in your move.
Remember, these are the steps I personally took to move my small business from state to state. It is a great starting point, but I suggest consulting with the necessary professionals (attorney, accountant, etc.) on your particular situation, just to make sure you are covered legally.
If you are needing some new headshots or a branding session to start your new adventure, I would love to help you with that! Click here to request your complimentary consultation today.
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