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How To Make Relocating An Online Business As Painless As Possible
By Mark Daoust
Buying a new business is an exciting opportunity for just about anyone. But what if you’re not just buying the business, but also migrating it to a new location? Relocating an online business you’ve purchased can be a complex process no matter what market you’re in, but you’ll face additional challenges if your business sells a physical product.
I’ve seen quite a few businesses like this in my time at Quiet Light Brokerage. They differ in market niche and size, but whether they sell widgets, golf balls, baby buggies, or whatever, most of the time, these businesses maintain some sort of warehouse or storage space for inventory and distribution, along with up to five employees. On occasion, a business owner on one coast will sell to someone on the other.
Whether you’ve just purchased your first business or your hundredth, if you’re relocating your new business, these unique challenges may leave you feeling a little unsure about how to proceed.
Take a Lesson from the Boy Scouts
You might associate these words more with merit badges than managing the purchase and transition of your new business. But with the additional considerations that come with moving your new business, taking the time to prepare as carefully—and as thoroughly—as possible is the smart move.
- Find your new “home” before beginning transition. If you’re relocating a business you’ve purchased, and your new location is any significant distance from the original one, you’ll want to make sure you’ve found a viable warehouse or storage space (sometimes a big garage or spare room does the trick), as well as local staff, before you begin transferring the business. Or, if you plan to do all the work yourself for a time before hiring any help, take the time to outline your expected daily task list, work out when you plan to hire help (if ever), and how you’ll do so when the time comes.Your primary goal should be to create a transition that’s as seamless as possible, and preparing the new location to work with, and then replace the existing one is the first step in doing so.
- Set up your new location while the seller’s old location is still operating normally. Establishing your new location is a key component to the success of your new business, but in order to maintain profitability and performance of the business, it’s a smart move to keep the current operation running while you’re in transition. Usually, you can negotiate the details of this transition with the seller so you’re not required to perform every single task the day after your deal closes.Orders can still be taken and filled, and you won’t risk losing customers to delays or shutdowns. Plus, you’ll have time to work out any unforeseen difficulties in the new location—issues with vendors, licensing, staff availability—that might otherwise bring your business to a temporary halt.
- Keep your team in the loop. Notify staff at the existing location about the move at least a month in advance, and if the former owner hasn’t already helped them prepare for the change in ownership and location, make an effort to do so.If folks at the current site need to be let go, be honest with them. Consider providing an incentive that will encourage them to stay until the transition is complete. They already have experience and training, and the time and expense involved in bringing temporary replacements up to speed on your business and processes may very well exceed a financial incentive for employees who already know your new company.Depending on the distance and position, you may also want to consider assisting with relocation for any staff members who are interested in doing so. They can help bring any new team members up to speed quickly, and help ensure a successful transition with existing suppliers and clients as well.
- Make smart inventory management a priority. If you have a lot of existing inventory, you may want to consider selling and distributing it from the seller’s old location, and then purchasing and distributing all new inventory from the new location.A cost-benefit analysis will help you determine whether it makes more sense to sell and ship from the seller’s old location or simply ship everything to the new one.
Relocating your Internet-based business can be a challenge, but it’s far from an insurmountable one—many buyers have made the transition successfully. By taking the time to prepare your location, transition your staff, and manage your inventory, you can help ensure the process of moving your business is an easy one.
Have you ever relocated a business, either as a seller or a buyer? Share your experience with us in the comments!