Why You Should Organize Your Small Business with a Storage Unit
Mini Mall Storage Properties
March 5th, 2021
Running a small business is hard work, no matter what stage of growth you’re at. You have all the same responsibilities of a large business, but with less space, funding and support. It’s not impossible to run a business with cluttered office space or disorganized inventory, but this isn’t the most efficient approach. If you’re looking to grow and scale your small business without breaking the bank, consider renting a storage unit. While you can't directly run a small business out of a storage rental property, you can use one to help organize your processes and optimize your workflow. When it comes to your inventory, office supplies and seasonal items, not everything needs to be always at an arm’s reach.
"But can’t I just use my garage as extra storage?”
Lots of business owners try to use their garage as a storage space when starting out on their new ventures. This isn’t a great idea for many reasons. Garages generally double (or triple) as family storage rooms, dust-collecting activity closets, exhaust-filled vehicle housing, the list goes on. As you can imagine, it’s hard to keep your small business inventory organized when it’s not consolidated in one area.
Garages are also not always temperature controlled, whereas storage units can be. Perhaps your inventory and supplies are sensitive to fluctuations in temperature and humidity, so a controlled unit is your best option. Many homeowners' associations also state that you are not allowed to store inventory in your garage, so this could be a roadblock. Plus, once your business starts to grow, you may want other people to pick up inventory for you. Renting a storage unit allows you to give access to the inventory instead of giving that individual access to your house, decreasing your liability.
Since most storage spaces cost less than commercial warehouse space, renting a small unit is the perfect way to externally organize your small business.
Before You Start Using a Storage Unit...
Renting a storage unit is one of the easiest and most affordable ways to grow and scale your small business. However, it’s important to utilize this space effectively so that it doesn’t become a burden on your business.
Step 1: Decluttering Your Office & Purging Your Inventory
First, go through everything you currently have in your office space. Start by organizing your items by category: use regularly, seldom use and never use. When it comes to the ‘never use’ pile, we like to implement the one-year rule—if you haven’t used it in the last year, do you really need it? If it’s old, broken or unused, get rid of it. This is the perfect opportunity for you to sort through everything in your business, from stacks of old papers and office supplies to old machines and unused inventory. Perhaps this will inspire you to have a sale, donate the items, or simply visit the dump. Now go through your ‘regularly use’ and ‘seldom use’ piles. The regularly used items will generally stay in your daily office space. However, if you have a lot of inventory stocked up, whether for your business or office supplies, consider keeping a one-month supply on hand and storing the rest in your unit. Your seldom used, but important, items will likely be great candidates for the storage unit They often take up valuable space in your office, but could be easily retrieved from a storage unit when you need them. Perhaps these include seasonal items, like space heaters and fans, or holiday decorations, like a Christmas tree or fall décor.
Once You Start Using the Unit...
Now that you’re ready to move the right items into your storage unit, it’s important to organize the space effectively. Without a proper system, your storage unit could be just as bad as your garage, so set yourself up for success from the beginning.
Step 2: Setting up Your Space
Ask yourself the following questions to determine the layout of your storage space:
- Which items do you use the most? Make sure they’re at the front of your storage space and are easily accessible. If you’re an inventory-based business, this will likely be your highest selling items.
- Which items will you need first? You can pile these items on top so that they’re accessible when you need them.
- Which items do you replenish often? If you know you’re getting more of a particular item, make sure they are easy to get to.
Once you have a general plan of where your items will go, it’s time to consider how you will store your inventory and supplies. We recommend shelving to keep the space tidy and avoid unstable, towering boxes. On these shelves, consider using tubs or crates to hold your items, so that they are easily stackable and can be labelled. Using a plastic-type material rather than cardboard will ensure the boxes don’t break, rip, get wet/damaged or deteriorate.
Step 3: Organizing Your Inventory
Your shelves are set up, your tubs are ready to go, now it’s time to fill in your storage space. In order to use your unit optimally, you need to know where everything is. When it comes to organizing your inventory, consider the following options:
- Labels: Using a good, old fashioned label maker is an easy to way to mark your shelves, boxes and rows so that anyone entering your storage unit knows exactly where things are and what is in each box.
- Photographs: In addition to your labels, you can print out photographs of your inventory so that people can look for the visual cues instead of reading every single label.
- SKU Numbers: Stocking Keeping Unit (SKU) numbers are a great way to keep track of items if you are an inventory-based business. This allows you to scan items and know exactly which item you are referring to.
Of course, there’s an app for this. There are plenty of inventory management system apps out there for you to try based on your type of business organization. Some popular inventory management apps are:
- Inventory Now
- On Shelf
- SOS Inventory
- & many more
With a separate storage unit to house your small business inventory and excess supplies, you can say goodbye to shoving boxes under tables and packing closets with overflowing inventory. Instead, you’ll breathe a sigh of relief walking into your pristine storage unit, optimally organized for your maximum efficiency and inevitable business growth.
How much storage do you need? Check out our calculator to find out.