I imagine that I am among a long list of young professionals and business owners of all ages that have been faced with the questions "should I move my business?" "Can I move my business elsewhere and still thrive?" Or "what will happen to my business if I move?" Whether you started your business in a smaller market and are just trying to grow, or you're wanting to relocate to be closer to family, or just need a change of scenery; I am certain that you have asked yourself the above questions. So I am going to share a little bit about my experience with relocating my business.

I first started making money with photography and video work while I was trying to finish up college at Ouachita Baptist University in Arkansas. I had done my first wedding while still living in Arkansas, but by no means was my business even close to the size it is now. Probably 2-3 months after I filmed my first wedding I took a position as the head rugby coach at Lee University in Cleveland, Tennessee. I would not have said that my business was on the back burner, but it certainly was not a priority. I mean up until this point I had only made a few thousand dollars total from multiple little jobs and that one wedding, I had no business license, and had the bare minimum of equipment to even claim the title photographer or videographer. However, what I did do as soon as I got to Cleveland is started making friends and getting involved as quickly as possible in my community, local church, and with everyone I came into contact with. And that is my first Pro Tip: It's not about what you know, it's about who you know."

Now I will fast forward about 2 years to March of 2020. I had gone full time with my business with the help of a lot of the connections in my little East Tennessee town. I had built a client base and a reputation around my area and gained the financial confidence to quit my job and just pursue photography and videography full time. In 2020 I had done a fairly local 17 weddings by the end of the year. I had also done 3-4 weddings that were spanned across the state of Tennessee and this is where I believe the real confidence to begin expanding came from. Call it luck, or just an incredible client based referral line, or whatever, but in 2021 I did 65 weddings that reached from coast to coast to coast. For several personal reasons I began looking at areas where I could move to. Memphis was one of those options and Nashville was the other. Of the two locations I had done significantly less weddings in Nashville so for a long time I focused my efforts a lot more on Memphis. However, about 6 months in 2021; for other personal reasons I decided to focus more on Nashville.

Moving to Nashville was something I honestly had a little fear about. The market here was way hotter and way more saturated with high end photographers and videographers. My company had done 4-5 weddings here and a couple of other projects in the past, but I did not feel like I had a real footing in this city as far as business or personal relationships go. For business sake Nashville did seem like the place to be though. With a lot of our destination weddings or weddings that were just in different states we were already having to fly out of BNA. My main associate photographer also lived in the Nashville area so that was another check mark for Nashville. And finally, with my company doing weddings consistently in either Memphis, East Tennessee, or somewhere in between I decided to pull the trigger on the city that was right in the middle of it all.

I moved to Nashville in October of 2021 and hit the ground running. I adjusted my pricing for my market (as much as I could confidently), I tried to stick to my own pro tip of making connections, and I just went for it. My safety net of future weddings was a little lower than I wanted it to be and my client base in Nashville was definitely lacking, but the risk was worth the reward. Coming into 2022 I had only booked about 5 weddings for the year. By the end of January that number was at 24 weddings for 2022 and 1 for 2023. Even living in a place where rent went from $725 a month to just over $2000 a month that line of weddings was taking care of the bills.

So now you might ask what did I do right and what would I have done differently. If you were going to put yourself and your business in my shoes I think the first thing I would do is have a financial safety net. This was something I would have handled differently. This net needs to be subjectively based off of your own personal lifestyle and business needs. When I moved I never expected my first few months of getting into a new lease and buying furniture and what not to cost as much as it did. Those first few months I would not have said I was struggling, but I did come uncomfortably close to selling all of my Etherium to pay bills multiple times. And I for sure got out of my 6 month financial safety net realm a few times. A 6 month safety net for personal and business expenses is my preference, but that does not have to be your number. You could keep a 3 month or 1 month net and be perfectly fine. I like to be comfortable though. Whatever your number is you're going to need to figure that out and eat crap for a few months until you have it; BEFORE YOU MOVE. Take into account any potential business and personal expenses and work on getting that put aside. For photographers and videographers a lot of us are booking jobs and including those expenses in the invoices. So make sure you're accounting for some of those expenses changing as well. For my two and a half hour move West my expenses did not change much. If anything being closer to a major airport and having my associate photographer live 15 minutes away actually saved me money in business expenses. However, if you're looking to move from Texas to Oregon and have a bunch of weddings already booked in Texas you are going to have to account for travel back to Texas or paying an associate now.

Once you have your financials figured out you have to take my advice and build those connections. For me personally I was targeting vendor relations and making my presence known on social media. My accounts quickly changed from "East Tennessee...." to "Nashville...." and I went 90 to nothing to make sure those Nashville vendors I already knew were aware that I had moved. A simple direct message, text, or an email can open several doors for us photographers and videographers. I am only about four and a half months in here and this tactic hasn't proven itself in the long term, but it has opened doors for at least a few opportunities. Another thing I have found helpful is to make your presence known in local groups. I stopped going hard on the East Tennessee wedding groups and really honed in on the Nashville groups. For reference of my 24 weddings about 10 of them are in the Nashville area and the rest are out of state or on the Far East or West side of Tennessee still; which I attribute those to my referral line.

My final piece of advice would be to study the market you're moving to. I did do this a lot beforehand literally by googling and by talking to vendors in the area, but I don't think I put as much into it as I could have. I would say if you are trying to move to a completely different city and market of clients then you have to do your research. Don't be the shady photographer that is filling out contact forms on other photographers websites trying to get all their info, but I don't think it is out of place to email or call them directly and just ask them questions. I would like to think that most photographers and videographers are open to helping another company in the same market out and would view the increase in potential competition as a good thing instead of a threat. But you never know. Ask other photographers and videographers what their clients want and don't want usually. See if they are willing to discuss their pricing. And who knows maybe they will even be a good referral line for you or have work that you can help them with.

I believe that taking risk is the key to success with any business. Just owning a business is a risk in itself. So don't be afraid to relocate your business for personal reasons or in an attempt to grow or expand. My experiences are not completely unique and I know other business owners have taken the same risk I have and relocated with as much or even more success than I have; and you certainly can as well. Don't miss the opportunities that lay at the end of a uhaul trip to a new place. Give yourself a financial safety net, study your new market, and make connections as quickly as you can and I don't think you will ever regret it.