After you’ve been freelancing for a while, you may decide to move. And of course, wherever you go, that’s where your freelancing business is.
While local moves probably won’t affect your freelancing business much, there are definitely some factors to consider when you move to a new city or even a new state.
In this post, I list six factors that may affect your freelancing business when you move to a new area. If you like this post, you may also like How I Kept My Freelance Business Intact During Relocation.
Factor 1: Your Clients
If none of your clients are local, they probably aren’t used to meeting you face-to-face. It probably doesn’t matter to them where you are located as long as you continue to meet your deadlines and turn in high quality work.
In fact, some successful freelancers are completely location independent, meaning that they travel regularly and still maintain a freelance business.
Of course, if you have any clients who physically mail you a check or send you a 1099 through snail mail, you need to tell them your new address.
However, if you do have some local clients who you meet with face-to-face on a regular basis, you have some convincing to do. Here are some concerns you may need to address with your local clients:
- Reassure them you will be just as responsive to their needs in your new location. You may even want to provide an alternate, inexpensive way for them to contact you such as a toll-free number.
- Address their quality concerns. Assure them that the high quality of your work will continue and that you will continue to meet their deadlines on time.
- Let them know how much you value them as a client. We often don’t tell our clients how much we appreciate them, but it’s a good way to strengthen the relationship.
- Consider traveling. If they are a large client and you do a significant volume of work for them, you may be able to offer to travel to their location once or twice a year.
Whatever you do, don’t just change addresses on your local clients without letting them know. Communication is important.
Factor 2: Legal Concerns
If you are moving to a new area, it’s important to learn the local laws concerning small businesses. Depending on your location, you may be required to get a General Business License to do business in your city. You may also need to get a Home Occupancy Permit. Check the local laws for doing business where you are going.
Many local governments keep a list of business names (a DBA, or “Doing Business As” list), so you may need to register your business name in your new location.
Finally, your taxes may change if you move from a state or city where you do not have to pay local income taxes to a state or city where you do. Don’t wait until taxes are due before finding out how your new location will affect your taxes.
If you are unclear about anything, or can’t find the information you need in your new area, contact a local attorney or income tax professional for assistance.
Factor 3: Safeguard Your Equipment
If you’re like many freelancers, you probably have a small investment in office equipment for your freelancing business. You probably have at least one desktop or laptop computer, possibly a tablet, printer, phone system, and maybe some specialized software or hardware.
All in all, your investment is probably worth several thousand dollars. You want to make sure everything makes it to your new home in good working condition. After the expense of a move, the last you thing you want is to have to purchase new equipment. You also want to be able to get back to work as quickly as possible after the move. These tips can help:
- Pack your freelance equipment separately. Don’t mix your household items with your freelance items. Trust me, you won’t remember that you packed your mouse inside that box of socks.
- Label each box clearly. Make sure that the boxes containing your freelance equipment are marked clearly. Write “Home Office” or “Freelance” on each box.
- Consider moving expensive or delicate items yourself. If you are using a moving service, do you really trust them with your high cost equipment?
- Unpack your office quickly. The longer your office equipment sits around in boxes, the more likely it is that it will be damaged.
Factor 4: A Business-Friendly Home
Most freelancers work from home. If this is true for you, you’ll want to choose a business-friendly home.
Ideally, a business-friendly home provides an environment that allows you to do your freelancing work free from distractions. Here are some things to look for when you select your new home:
- Quiet neighborhood. If you spend a lot of time working from home, you’ll want a relatively quiet place to work. This is especially true if noises bother you. You can probably rule out a home next to the football stadium or beside a busy railroad track.
- Separate work area. While many freelancers start their freelancing business on their kitchen table or in the corner of the family room, it’s always helpful if you have a space you can dedicate to your freelancing business. An extra room with a door on it is a bonus.
- Connectivity issues. Most modern residential neighborhoods do have Internet access. However, if you are moving to a rural area, Internet connectivity could still be an issue. Make sure that there is a local Internet provider nearby before you move.
- Electrical Plugs. This may seem to be a minor detail, but older houses often do not have enough electrical plugs to accommodate all of the modern technology that we count on. Sure, you can use extension cords, but make sure the house’s wiring can handle the extra load.
Factor 5: Change Your Address
In the U.S., first class mail will be forwarded from your old address to your new address for about a year. Do you really want to risk that something important that was sent to your old freelancing business address will be lost?
The best thing to do is to make sure that all correspondence and subscriptions associated with your business are transferred directly to your new address. The best way to do this is to contact the sender directly and request a change of address. Here is a list of places to contact with your new address:
- Clients who send cash or tax information.
- Professional publications.
- Software companies that mail updates.
- Professional organizations.
If you’ve set your business up on Google places, you need to make sure the listing reflects your new address.
Also, don’t forget to change your business address on your website, stationary, and business card.
Factor 6: Take Time Off
Last, but not least. Make sure to schedule enough time for your move. Make sure that your clients understand that you will be unavailable for a few days. Don’t try to move and somehow work at the same time–that’s a recipe for disaster.
Schedule enough downtime to cover packing up your current home, traveling to your new home, getting your new home set up (including turning on the utilities), and unpacking.
If you’re not sure how much time you will need, it’s better to allow yourself an extra day or two.
Have you moved since you started freelancing? How did the move affect your freelancing business? What tips do you have for other freelancers?