As a small business, keeping cost down was always the 2nd most important priority, right after driving sales.
Like me, many small business start off from their homes, where we convert a small room into our warehouse for keeping stock. For the most part, if your product was small and light, that would have worked for a much longer time. For most other businesses that sold products of any heft, then a small room in your home quickly becomes too small.
Beyond your home, what are the options.
Again, I must emphasise the relative ease of doing business in this time and age that allows you access to an abundant options for storage.
Self storage has become increasingly popular in the recent few years. Self storage facilities are run by organisations that convert old industrial buildings into warehousing. The uniqueness of these warehouse is that they lease units of varying sizes out and you could get small or big entirely based on your requirement. They provide 24 hour access to the warehouse and this provides the flexibility for many small businesses to have access to their inventory. Many of these warehouses also have automated lockers, so you can pack goods and place them in the lockers to be picked up by the couriers for delivery.
Tips for choosing a self storage facility:
Location, location, location
My recommendation is to pick a location that is convenient, i.e. near where you live or work. If you drive this is probably a moat point, but if you don’t then location is very important.
Visit and see the actual unit
It is also very important to visit the store and ask to see the exact unit that you will be leasing. Make sure you are comfortable with not just the floor area of the unit, but the storage height limit. Ideally pick a storage facility that has higher height limit, that way you get more bang for your buck.
Contract Length vs Rental
You can always negotiate for a contract length that is longer to get a better monthly rate. Though, make sure that the length of contract makes sense for your business. If your business expands, make sure you are able to shift to a larger unit. If your business shrinks, what are the options? If you eventually scale up and need a more full service warehouse, how would you do that?
Treat Self Storage like Co-Working
Get to know the service staff and you will have access to the network. Many of these self storage warehouse have so many small businesses storing with them. Find out if they offer cross marketing or promotions opportunities. Find out about events they hold. Find out if they can introduce you to relevant partners.
Ask About Axillary Services
Are there trolleys provided? Pallet jack? Air-conditioning? Wifi? Automated lockers? Printing services? Every little thing matters, especially when you are a small business.