Getting your business storage to work in your favour can sometimes be a challenge, but it’s key to smooth operations and steady growth.
Determine Your Storage Needs
Wherever you choose to store stock or equipment, going overboard can seriously undermine your costings and cause road blocks in your cash flow.
Popular storage space options include:
- Warehouses: May be overkill for small businesses with relatively small space needs. You’ll need to factor in additional expenses such as VAT, business rates and utilities, too. Ways to minimise the cost include sharing spaces with other businesses, but make sure you figure out the logistics of access, stock, security, share division of space and expense, and liability should anything go wrong.
- Dedicated office rentals: Again, you’ll have additional overhead costs associated with renting office space, although if you’re lucky you may have a side room where you can store stock. Office sharing is a possibility, but before you jump in, ask yourself if you need an office or if it’s more of a status symbol. There’s nothing wrong with that, in fact it can help in some instances, but understand your own motivations and weigh these against the cost.
- Home storage: Popular and convenient if you’re starting on a shoe string budget or just dipping a toe in the business water. Cons include safety and access, taking into consideration stairs, steps, convenience and hazards to family members. Storing in garages may lead to damp or pests.
- Self Storage facilities: Growing in popularity, these offer convenience, security, low costs and flexible terms (creative ideas on flexibility below). For some it’s a handy start-up option, while other business owners find it’s a storage model that perfectly suits their needs in the long term.
Organise Your Storage Space
Having a great storage space is just the beginning. It now needs organising so you can find what you have, tally your inventory, stock-take efficiently and access goods speedily.
- Put fast sellers nearest the door. These are the items you’ll retrieve most often, so minimise your walking time to fetch them.
- Install shelves that are fit for purpose; sturdy, fixed, and strong enough to bear the weight of your stock items.
- Place popular items at eye-level.
- Hang up a notice board where you can jot quick memos to yourself or staff members.
- Use storage tubs with loose lids so they’re easy to open.
- Have a running tally on the outside of boxes holding multiple small items. This makes stocktaking and reordering easier, and prevents accidental sales of anything that’s out of stock.
- Group items logically, by colour, size, manufacturer or type.
Take Advantage of Cloud Power
Save space by cutting down on document storage. The cloud is your best friend when it comes to accounting, document sharing, and collaboration with colleagues or customer service.
There are plenty of options, from Dropbox to Google Docs or subscription services from other providers. Online accounting packages make bookkeeping simple, and provide secure ways to keep the digital records you need for your tax return, expenses and bank accounts.
You may not be able to go completely paperless, but maximising cloud storage can free up office space because you don’t need giant filing cabinets. On top of this, you should try to utilise any helpful software that is available. For example, someone in catering may use management software from Inhouse Manager.
If you’ve ever missed the opportunity to acquire stock at a knock-down price because you don’t have space to put it, you’ll appreciate the flexibility offered by self storage facilities. The short terms mean you can upscale or downsize with very little notice (you can rent additional space instantly if rooms are available), so you can take full advantage of seasonal or overstock bargains.
Another way of harnessing the flexibility of self storage is to create a pack and dispatch area right there in the room. All you need is a small table and space for packing materials. You’ll save time and money in handling and travel costs. Just rent a room slightly larger than you need for storage, and you instantly have all you need.
If you’ve also organised your cloud storage, your office travels with you on mobile devices so you can easily access customer records and orders.
When storage works with, rather than against you, you’re free to concentrate on business building and growth, instead of fighting helmet fires caused by lost items or unsafe storage locations.