As a military spouse interested in entrepreneurship or building a business already, PCS orders can make your heart sink. Any move can.
I moved six times to four states in less than two years to pursue a civilian career with the military, but I had one thing really holding me back from embracing my new jobs. I was an entrepreneur, and it was a localized business, not one I could just pick up and bring with me.
Keeping Your Entrepreneurial Spirit Alive
So, at every move, I started over. Only to realize I was moving…again…a few months later. It was a very frustrating time for me, but I was able to build a clientele at almost every move. I increased marketing efforts to advertise my business and started building a network of leads, customers, and referrals in a short period of time. Now, I teach the military community to use these same strategies every time they PCS to increase leads, sales, and followers.
The best part is that you don’t have to pay for these marketing strategies and instead, you can use relationships, word-of-mouth, and social media to foster leads in a matter of weeks. Here were some of the ways I built a foundation at every new move without paying for advertising:
When you first move to an area, or as soon as you get your orders, begin researching the top bloggers located in the area. Look up local businesses that are complimentary to yours. Find newbie business owners in the area, as smaller and newer businesses may be more open to teaming up. Begin reaching out to those you could potentially collaborate with. It could be as simple as giving them business cards to put on their counter, offering to swap services, or sharing each other’s social media statuses. Either way, you want to build as many relationships as you can. Offer value to businesses in the area that may be able to send referrals your way in the future.
When I first moved, I found a list of business owners complimentary to my business and reached out for referrals. As a photographer at the time (now military marketing consultant), I offered one business owner stock images for her website, and she leveraged her social media and word-of-mouth audience to send referrals to me from the wedding clients she was catering for. It was a win-win!
See if the locals in your new area would be willing to join you for a social media contest, an in-person event, a referral program, putting your business card in customer bags, and more! It never hurts to build a relationship and then ask!
With social media, it’s important to make sure your pages are searchable in the new area. This is important for search engine optimization. Your About page and locations need to be updated so you can begin to show up in local searches.
Use social media to begin gaining new followers in the region you are heading to through hashtags and participation in Facebook groups local to the area. Tailor your content to appeal to those in the new city. Make sure your current audience is aware of the move, especially if it affects your services. Put a plan in place to gain current customer reviews. Ask for referrals/connections in the new area, and inform clients of any service changes during the move.
Stay consistent on social media throughout your transition to a new area and continue to use content and hashtags that would attract audiences from your future home.
When you first move to an area, go to as many in-person events as you can. Check out Meet Up events, local networking groups, and local professional groups. Meeting individuals in-person can help you spark referrals faster, gain additional clients, and open opportunities to collaborate more.
Before moving, begin the networking process online through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. Build as many connections as you can before leaving so you can have people to reach out to when you arrive. Remember that networking is all about building relationships. Your goal is not to pitch and sell to these people but make them aware of your business so they can provide you with referrals in the future.
When you’re proactive about building your business before moving and establishing those connections upon arrival, you will position yourself to grow and expand in a new area faster. Whether you’re a national company or local, you can use these strategies to survive PCSing. I’ve been able to move again and again while never losing my passion for entrepreneurship.
Jenny Hale, The Military Social Media Guru, is a civilian working with the military at Fort Knox. She spends her free time traveling and exploring the south and mid-west. After moving six times to four states in two years, Fort Knox is the longest location Jenny has stayed at, falling in love with the community and activities available in the area.