Entrepreneurs: Space age thinking starts here

Great photo by William Warby

With the economy really picking up more and more people are finding the confidence to start out in business for themselves. It’s a big – but very exciting – life decision that brings a newfound flexibility of being your own boss, but it can also be a pretty scary prospect.

The good news is that there’s no end of help available from consultants, gurus, experts and business coaches, so you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to advice, guidance, hints and tips. One brilliant all-round-first-port-of-call type resource is the Business section in the British Government’s Gov.uk website and it’s completely free. Here at ABC we see plenty of savvy startups using self storage for their space. So here are our top tips for making room for your business… Small businesses come in all shapes, locations and types. Some start up as home-based operations, working from the kitchen table or spare room. Others might be trade based – man or woman in a van types – who need a base for their kit and equipment. Then there’s professional service businesses who often work out of shared office facilities. Whilst retailers and shops need additional space to their sales area – to store stock whether they are selling locally or online.

Whatever the line of work, a critical focus for any new business is keeping cost overheads low. In the early days, when margins are tight, premises costs can be crippling. So unless you’re in the working-from-home boat, finding a way planning and getting the most out of your business space is important – especially in London where we have some of the most expensive cost per square foot in the UK.

The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) have some sound advice that’s recommended by gov.uk. It’s called ‘Making the Most of Space’ and it covers how to design and use your space to maximise productivity, quality and maximise the image you are trying to create for your business.

There are some great pointers (which we’ve expanded on):

  • Plan the space you’ll need – calculate the square footage you’ll need, for each type of usage of that space. For example – you might only need two desks worth for your staff to sit at, but what about paperwork, archives, stationary, electronic equipment (such as a photocopier) and storage for stock or equipment?
  • Put the figures together – add up the total of the space you’ll need and decide whether they all need to be in the same location. You might find that space for different purposes has different costs. Serviced office space for your day-to-day for example will be much more than storage for your retail stock.
  • Forecast Growth – see if you can forecast how that space you have might need to expand as you grow your business. Also consider how flexible your existing arrangements are. Will it be easy to add another desk/workstation for a new member of staff. Will you be able to store a further order of that flew-off-the-shelves retail sock?
  • Choose Furniture wisely – you might plump for system furniture (modular furniture that can be put together and generally saves space) or standalone furniture that can take up more room.
  • How do I deal with surplus space – RICS suggest that surplus space could be sublet to others, although you’d need to check the terms of your lease.

Of course, the really savvy entrepreneurs amongst you will already be saying that you shouldn’t have any surplus space… and there’s one crucial thing that RICS have missed. They haven’t said anything about flexible space that you can rent as and when (and only when) you really need it – especially if you’re storing equipment, paperwork or retail stock that you don’t need to have on the same premises as your office.

That’s where self storage  for business – like ours – can help with flexible storage to suit all business needs. We don’t think it’s fair that you should be tied into long term contracts for space that you’re not using, so we always promise you’ll only pay for the days you stay and that you can move out of your unit with no notice and no fee.