Archive for January 20th, 2010

Dear Danielle: What Advice Do You Have for an Itinerant Business Owner?

Dear Danielle:

I am currently planning and readying my new administrative support business for its grand opening in about a month and a half, but my husband is in the military and we will be moving all over (this is why I am starting this business). So my question is two-fold: Do you have any tips for an itinerant business owner like me? And will there be different laws to follow depending on where you are located? –CD

As you recognize, that’s the beauty of a business such as ours. It doesn’t require any kind of physical brick and mortar presence, there are no geographic constraints and we can run our business and work anywhere we have access to the internet.

You don’t elaborate much so I’m not sure what kind of tips you’re thinking of, but here are a few thoughts off the top of my head:

  1. Set up a shared online collaborative office. These are not merely project management programs. They’re full-package organizational tools that you can set up by client so that each “collaborative office suite” has its own shared calendar, contacts/address book, project/task management section, full real-time document filing and sharing, forums and wikis you can set up, and all kinds of other things–all in one. There are so many out there these days; it really boils down to personal preference. Plus, it’s hard to make a recommendation without more specific details.
  2. Get Dropbox. This is a free shared file drive where you can store any and all files and documents that you a) want access to no matter what device you’re one, and b) to share with clients. Dropbox is an amazingly versatile tool that allows you do to so many things. It makes working with clients, keeping them organized and sharing documents between you a breeze.
  3. Perhaps set up your email accounts in an online tool like Gmail. That way, you can have online access to all your communications wherever you have an internet connection.
  4. Get an aircard (also called “mobile broadband”) or mobile hotspot. This is a USB you plug into your laptop or a wifi device that gives you your own secure internet access when you aren’t home. Wherever you can get a cell phone signal, your aircard/mobile hotspot will work there as well. Which means you could be anywhere: in your car, at a park, wherever, and still have internet access. I use Verizon and have been very pleased.
  5. Get a remote access service like TeamViewer. This will allow you to log into your home computer when you need to whenever you are away.

As far as different laws to follow depending on where you live, yes, that might be the case.

Different cities, counties and states have their own licensing and tax obligations. Some cities (like mine) requires a separate business license in addition to the state business license you may have to take out (also required in my state). Others don’t require any separate or special registration at all.

Some areas might have special zoning or laws pertaining to home businesses.

Some cities or counties might require you to file their own business tax reports in addition to what you might be required to file federally or with the state.

It will be your job as a responsible business owner to research those each time you move.

I want to also stress that it’s important to go straight to the source. Contact the pertinent state and local agencies and ask them those questions.

Their directions and information will be the only ones that matter.

You don’t want to rely on the guesses or opinions of others as they are not going to be paying your penalties or fines or dealing with problems if you end up not doing something right based on their “helpful” advice.