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As a military spouse, traditional employment is something that is not guaranteed. Most of us have left the stability of a typical 9-5 to jump aboard this crazy ride with our spouse.

We love our spouse after all!

Self-employment is desirable for those of us wanting the freedom and flexibility as we move from place to place. It also gives us the freedom from needing to explain the “gaps” in our resume. These gaps range from living in a new place every 2-3 years to taking leave when your spouse deploys to being at a duty station for only 6 months for school.

Being your own boss comes with the flexibility to ebb and flow with all of the curveballs of military life. However, it can add an extra level of stress when it comes to knowing how to move your business properly during a PCS. It becomes one more thing we can add to our massive to-do list. 

two female business women in aprons with jars of fruit in a bright kitchenHere are the 5 main considerations as you move your business forward to your new duty station. 

Have Your Orders in Hand

It is very unlikely you will be able to do anything else efficiently with your business until you know for certain that you’re actually going to move and to where. It happens all the time – you think you are moving one place but end up in another. Imagine putting all this effort into relocating to a new location, including all the research, only to have to do it all over again. So wait until you have orders in hand, period. 

Communicate with Your Current Clients

Let your clients know you’re moving. Why? Because what if you start putting it out on social media that you are moving, but your current clients see that on social media without a word about that move from you? They’re going to be ticked off.

Shoot them an email FIRST and let them know before you start posting it all over the web. Even though you are moving away from your current duty station, the military community is small. No need to burn bridges by accident, especially if there is any possibility you will end up coming back. 

Understand the Legal Ramifications of Moving Your Business. 

One of the most challenging aspects of moving your business across state lines is navigating the many intricate federal and state laws. So as not to delay opening up shop once you arrive, create a checklist for any permits needed and forms to file before the move.

Some things to keep in mind, depending on your business:

  • permits & licensure
  • registration for your business
  • taxes (both federal and state)
  • other expenses for moving your business 

Some resources to help you sort through all the details include the Small Business Administration (SBA) and the Internal Revenue System (IRS). Check out the Small Business Administration for a searchable database of proper permits needed in your new area. Plan on living in base housing? Call the housing agency to ensure that your type of business is allowed to operate on base. If so, they can provide the proper information to get the approval process started!

Know the rules at your new base or region. 

Different states and countries have different rules and paperwork required. Here in Japan, all home based businesses have to be approved by the Command Fleet Activities Yokosuka, which includes paperwork, committees and lots of time. In Italy, the SOFA agreement there prohibits military spouses from working except for positions on the base. Each country has different agreements with the military, and that will determine how easy or difficult it would be to run your business. 

Even those stateside will have to do some homework. The rules and regulations differ from base to base. If you choose to live on base, it’s important to follow your local housing authority’s policies and guidance, as well as any state and local requirements. Just because we’re military spouses does not mean we are exempt or have any type of privilege over any of those rules and regulations. 

Network for Success! 

You have worked hard for your business. Do not let your relocation derail all your hard work! Take advantage of social media and the connections you make within the military spouse community. While we can have the best intentions of keeping up with our posts, moving is tiresome and, without fail, you’ll be in the middle of a cell signal dead zone somewhere when you remember that post you just have to publish. Schedule out your social media ahead of time, reach out to the location specific groups on Facebook, and prep yourself prior to the move to make those connections. Be honest with your followers and clients. If you need to be out of the office for a bit, that is ok! Just don’t ghost them – communicate to help establish expectations. 

woman in hijab with children unloading moving boxes from a carWhatever You Do, Don’t Give Up

Many military families rely on two incomes to make ends meet. Just as important, many spouses rely on their careers as places of growth, self-expression, productive challenges, and success. However, nearly 90 percent of the military spouse community is unemployed and/or underemployed. 

So if you decide to move your business to your new duty station during this PCS season, be sure to do the research, make a plan, and follow through with consistency. Because your hard work deserves to be recognized, and your personal growth is important.


Noralee Jones headshotNoralee Jones is a MILSO of 12 years, mom of 4, and writer/creator at Mrs. Navy Mama. Having experiences with 7 deployments, 4 PCS moves alone and the author of the Self-Care Guide for MILSOs, she is an expert on the importance of taking the time to focus on filling our bodies, minds, and souls with our individual needs in order to make the most out of our lives. She is also the Co-Author of The Newbie’s Guide to Military Life and focuses on supporting MILSOs through the ups and downs of military life through Mrs. Navy Mama. You can find her on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.