We’ve all heard the saying ‘time is money’, but for businesses large and small, space, and the ways we use it, can have an equally big impact on finances. Using space efficiently and effectively sometimes demands thinking out of the box, so here are four slightly unusual ways to make the space you have work harder.
Rethink Office Space
Rented office premises can be a huge drain on business finances, but there are ways some office owners can maximise their use of the space. Provided your contract agreement allows, you could streamline the physical storage you use and make way for an additional desk. Streamline by reducing the paper documents held in store, and by moving stock or equipment off site into self storage (more on this later).
Installing a spare desk lets you join the hotdesking movement. It’s popular amongst micro-business owners and freelancers because it offers professional space amongst like-minded individuals without the need for long-term commitments. Whether you rent out the desk to one business owner on a permanent basis, or make the desk available to several different freelancers on separate days, depends on your preference. Either way it allows you to increase your income without increasing the space you need.
The Pocket Office
Some first time business owners think an office will increase their standing in the business community, or automatically bring clients and customers to their door. It’s not necessarily so, and for some there’s no need for an office at all.
Modern communications and technology incorporating the cloud allows an entire office worth of data and information to be carried on a mobile device. From CRM to accounting and inventory management, everything a small business needs for efficient operation and communication can be held in the cloud and accessed from anywhere with an internet connection.
Depending on your business model, you may get away with free cloud storage solutions from providers such as iCloud, Dropbox, or Google Drive. If your needs are more complex, look into subscription based services such as Microsoft Office 365. Similarly, cloud accounting packages make it easy to keep on top of bookkeeping without the need for desktop computer access. Another advantage of cloud computing is that if you work with a virtual assistant, you can easily give them access to the documents they need while keeping others private.
Savvy Online Operations
Online retailing is a growing sector in the small business community, but they all share a common problem. Whilst setting up the retail portal is relatively simple, whether that’s an auction site or a boutique shopping site on a privately held domain, all online retailers need somewhere secure for their stock.
Some choose home storage when starting out, then quickly realise the disadvantages when large deliveries can’t make it up the street or the kids are tripping over boxes spilling out onto the stairs.
A viable, accessible, and inexpensive option is self storage. Many self storage providers embrace the business community, welcoming entrepreneurs looking for robust, secure and private storage for business stock. With short-term rates and convenient locations, self storage rooms can even double as pack and dispatch areas, killing two birds with one stone. To take advantage of that option, simply rent a space slightly larger than that needed for stock, and install a small desk or table and a chair.
A further advantage to the self storage method lies in its flexibility. During peak seasonal times, or whenever a bargain bulk buy opportunity appears, it’s simple itself to rent an additional room for as long or short a time as is needed. Being able to expand and contract storage minimizes risk, and empowers business owners to make more confident buying decisions.
Effective Storage and Retrieval Methods
Wasting space on storage is a common problem, and it’s largely down to logistics. Organizing things neatly and logically means you can pack more in and still find it when you need it. You could alternatively use a Bay Area self storage service or a service closer to the vicinity of your business so you have everything in one place.
- Label boxes specifically. Don’t write ‘stationery’ or ‘office supplies’, write ‘envelopes’ or ‘printer cartridges’.
- Consider transparent boxes over cardboard ones. You’ll be able to see what’s inside, at a glance.
- Extend shelves up to the ceiling, fixing them securely so they don’t topple. Put little used items at the top.
- When stacking cardboard boxes, have bigger ones at the bottom.
- Don’t over-fill boxes. Make sure they can easily be lifted.
- Have, and use, a stock inventory, whether it’s for items you sell or just your own office/business supplies. Keep it up to date and you won’t waste money buying what you don’t need, or accidentally make a sale on a line you’ve run out of.
Storage might not ever be the most exciting business requirement, but solid organisation and some out-of-the-box thinking can make it work in your favour, helping your business thrive in the process.