Moving from the country’s biggest state to the smallest was a sure-fire way to end my business, right? That was the opinion of some, but when I relocated with my family I had a strategy to ensure my business – Strawberry Communications – stayed on track. 

In August 2010 we moved from NSW to Launceston, Tasmania. The main reason was to start a hazelnut farm, but we also wanted our two children to grow up in a community and understand their role in that community. 

Before setting a moving date, I started connecting with Tasmanian business owners on Twitter, explaining our plans and asking for advice. A friend introduced me to a Launceston contact who is very well connected in the Tasmanian business community, so I asked her who I should be talking to and what I should do to help to re-establish myself and my business in Launceston. She assisted with contacts, advice and tips, plus introduced me to her network once I arrived. 

I kept my regular clients and online contacts updated with my personal events throughout this time, such as selling the house, moving dates and photos of our new home so they felt involved. 

Three weeks before moving we visited Launceston where I attended two networking events, collected business cards from every business I was likely to do business with and followed up with them when I returned to my office. 

Once moved and settled in I hit the ground running, attending a variety of networking events and introducing myself and my business to everyone I met. I also organised to have coffee with my new contacts and asked each one who I should be talking to, and then followed up those introductions. 

Want more articles like this? Check out the business networking section.

The major lessons I learnt from relocating my small business were: 

  • My online presence was essential for keeping in contact with the community I was leaving and for forming strong bonds with my new community.
  • Introducing myself to the main connector in Launceston was hugely beneficial, as she thought of me when events and opportunities arose.
  • I had to be willing to put myself out there and attend events to spread the word about my business, even when the prospect was daunting.
  • I shared my knowledge freely and others went out of their way to help me in return.
  • I told my personal story about why we moved and quickly became recognised as “the hazelnut lady”.
  • I followed up on the information provided to me and thanked others for the help, making them feel part of my success.

I was also able to help my new Tasmanian contacts by introducing them to mainland contacts, so I became known as a connector in my new community and grew my local client base as a result of this strategy. 

Now, almost two years later, I feel like I’ve been part of this community for much longer and I owe that to my planning and willingness to join in. Relocating your small business does not have to take a toll on your business – rather, it can open doors and be a breath of fresh air if approached with confidence and gusto. 

Have you and your business been through a relocation, and how did you survive it? 

“ I had to be willing to put myself out there and attend events to spread the word about my business, even when the prospect was daunting. ”
 
Johanna Baker-Dowdell

Johanna Baker-Dowdell owns Strawberry Communications, a writing and public relations consultancy specialising in helping businesses tell their story. Services include articles, copywriting, case studies, press releases, media liaison and PR strategy.

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