It’s that time of year again, the run-up to summer. While the temperature changes and the nights start to lengthen, there’s one thing in the back of the mind of every Milspo. That posting date!
Making your business transient is crucial if it’s going to survive this crazy military life. We need a business that’s accessible and open to clients and customers no matter where we find ourselves living or what time zone we find ourselves in.
As a business owner and wife of my RAF husband, I chose to relocate every couple of years as his job dictates, and I take my design business, Design Jessica, with me.
Here are seven of my best tips to help you with a military posting as a business owner…
1 CRM Systems and your customers
I couldn’t be without my CRM (customer relationship management) system. It’s where I keep my client’s details and work streams in one place, and it’s the first place I head to in the morning after my coffee. I use Pipedrive, but others include Asana, which I have heard fantastic things about and Basecamp, but there are loads out there. Most of them offer a month’s free trial, which you can try out before choosing to sign-up. It’s a great way to keep in touch with those clients who have made a good relationship before moving.
The most influential people in your business are your clients. It’s much harder to find new clients, but so much easier to look after existing ones.
As soon as you are moving, email them and explain the situation and how you will work with them in the future. You can do this through your email list if you have a product, business or individually if you are a service-based business.
The secret here is to stay completely transparent, so they are aware of the situation and realise what’s happening if you get busy and aren’t replying to their emails straight away.
2 Lost Clients
One of the saddest parts about moving location is that some of your clients will forget you.
I try to counteract this by sending them the odd email or even a Christmas card each year, but usually, if you aren’t around and reminding them of your existence, you sometimes get forgotten. I don’t let this happen to my most important clients and quite often travel quite a way to see them in person, and I have also been known to send them flowers on their business birthdays. It’s a great way to keep in touch and the front of their minds.
3 Social Media Scheduling
Keeping up with social media is a nightmare when you’re in the throes of moving. When the internet isn’t switched on for a couple of days or the router is somewhere in a box beneath a pile of other boxes, the last thing your thinking about is a Facebook post. My tip? Schedule ahead.
There are loads of apps out there to help you with scheduling posts for later on. I’ve used Hootsuite, Later, Meet Edgar – with varied results. Some you have to pay for, and some are free for a limited amount of accounts. So have a nosey to see which one suits you and your business.
Facebook’s scheduling tool called creator studio is free and also posts to Instagram. It’s even better for your analytics, but it won’t integrate any other platforms.
Can’t think of anything to schedule? Share about your move!
People like to see the human side of your business – keep security at the front of your mind and avoid geo-tags on posts.
The best way to find new clients and helpful local businesses once you arrive is through networking.
There are hundreds of networking groups available, and it does take a bit of trial and error to find the great ones, but it is one hundred per cent worth it.
I love my networking groups. Not only is it great to find new clients, but it’s also lovely to talk business with like-minded people.
There’s much talk about the military community connecting with other networking communities, and there are loads out there, so go and test them. If you are keen to build a network you can take anywhere in parallel to that, then do look at the free Virtual Networking that we run in the Milspo community.
5 Change your addresses
There’s no way around it, it’s one of the most annoying things to do when you are moving, but it’s even more annoying if you forget to do it. Take some time to list all your business profiles, subscriptions, insurances and deliveries and plan the best date for you to change them all.
If you have a registered business address, you won’t need to worry about this too much, as it won’t change, but do make sure you let the company handling your post know your new address.
You can also set up a redirection service with Royal Mail for at least 12 months after moving.
6 Getting Permissions
No matter where you are posted, you might need to ask permission to run your business from home if that’s what you plan to do.
Read your renters contract, or, if you are in Service Family Accommodation (SFA), check with welfare at your new base and how they suggest you register with Amey or whoever looks after your housing.
In my experience, it is always different on each base–sometimes it’s done via email and sometimes through a chain of command, but the best thing to do is ask. They may even have some valuable information for you about your new location while you are there.
7 Take Time Off
Finally, the most important one. I found this out the hard way! Being posted is tough and tiring. More tiring than I was expecting. I swear the boxes breed and multiply.
The most important tip I can give you if you’re due posting is to book some time off and away from your business. Yes, it might seem like you can’t and yes, posting dates often change, but as long as you give your clients enough notice to send you work and you have some systems in place for that time, you will be fine; they are human too and will understand.
Make sure you have an out of office on for your emails explaining that your internet may be a bit limited and email your most important clients personally, so they know you will be away for a bit. I always exaggerate how much time I will be away from the office just in case it all takes a bit longer, then if it doesn’t, they’ll be happily surprised and impressed that I am back already.
Making your business transferable is a must if you’re a Milspo. Hopefully, some of these points have helped you. If you have any others you think I should add, you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and don’t forget to join our growing Facebook community for further support.