Avoid a Major Headache When Relocating Your Office

Moving, no matter how big or small the job, often amounts to a huge hassle. Add work to the mix and you’ve got a recipe for a potential disaster.

Whether it’s changing apartments, houses, jobs – you name it – it typically involves not only a lot of packing, but also plenty of administrative-type tasks like changing your address, rolling over your 401K, and contacting all of those pesky bill collectors and credit-card companies to make sure they have your updated information so they can continue draining your bank accounts. When you’re your own boss, moving your business can be just as much of a headache. But if you’re prepared, according to those who’ve been there and done that, it can be more like a minor irritation rather than a full-blown pain. Maybe a little exciting, too.

Jeff Thomsen, president and CEO of Fitness Depot Direct, is planning such a move from New Jersey to Colorado within the year. Thomsen runs a home-based business that serves as a national distributor of new and refurbished commercial fitness equipment. He sells to gyms, hotels, multi-family living communities, schools and home owners. Thomsen has affiliate partnerships across the country; he subcontracts business aspects like shipping and delivery, and on-site service to other companies.

While working just outside of New York City has allowed him access to a huge fitness equipment market, Thomsen’s business is completely run remotely, so he can be anywhere.

“If you have a regional territory, you have to live in your region so we purposefully spent time and sacrificed a great deal to have more of a national type of business model to pull customers from all over the country. Now, we can be anywhere,” Thomsen said. “That’s what will allow us to go from living near New York City and running a business, to living on a mountain in Colorado – the day-to-day operations don’t change wherever we go.”

For Thomsen, the decision to move was a lifestyle-based one. He said less stress, a slower pace and greener pastures attracted his family [he and his wife have a three-month-old daughter] to the West. For a self-described “intense, New York guy,” Thomsen said he is hoping it will have a calming effect on his professional life, as well.“It just decreases the stress. You live in a very stressful, fast-paced, go-go area and you tend to adapt,” he said. “By moving out there, I’m hoping to leave work at the end of the day … and it leaves me, like literally work is behind me. I’m looking at beautiful mountains, I’m in a nice café.”

So what does it take to pick up and move one’s business to another state? A lot of administrative and legal odds-and-ends, that’s for sure. Here are some tips from Thomsen on how to best prepare to move your business:

No. 1: Make sure you can function just as effectively - wherever your next destination may be.

“You don’t want to move somewhere where it’s going to take away from the business or make it harder” to do, Thomsen said.

No. 2: Go digital (if you’re not already).

The administrative paperwork, files, and other documents that someone else may be responsible for when you are working for a larger company may bog you down as you try to pack and unpack everything. Finding what you need when you unpack is another matter altogether. But if you keep important documents and files on your computer, as well, they will be easier to find than sifting through boxes when you get to your destination. (Note: Backup paper records are always recommended).

No. 3: Know your new market and be friendly with the locals.

For Thomsen, his relocation means he will have to set up a new local network of customers. How will he do it?

“The old-school way of selling – just getting out there, knocking on doors, introducing myself,” he said. That may include launching some regional marketing campaigns, online outreach, or meeting people through social networks, he said, “just so you have the local people supporting you. Even though you have a national model, you always want the local people supporting you, too.” It’s a reputation issue, after all. Your business relies on it.

No. 4: Whatever space you’re new home-based business will be run out of, make sure it’s separate from the rest of the house. Thomsen is very much looking forward to having his own separate office rather than just a corner of the living room – complete with a real desk and other bells and whistles that his current space doesn’t afford.

“It will actually be like going to work,” he said. “I’ll actually have a separate domain that gives you the vibe, ‘OK, you’re here to work,” and if you go up the steps [from his future office to the rest of the house], ‘you’re here, you’re home.’”

No. 5: Take a deep breath. And then exhale.

Overall, when starting/expanding/or relocating your business, focus on the big picture. Don’t look for immediate success and satisfaction out of the gate. Have a plan and work that plan to get to your ultimate goal.