Article by Kayleigh Alexandra

Assuming you’re in the thrilling early stages of setting up a business, then what specifically you need to know about business storage depends on the exact nature of your operation.

Are you setting up online? Going brick-and-mortar? Aiming for something in-between?

No matter your circumstances, you need to know about business storage because you might need it sooner or later.

So if you’ve never given it the slightest bit of thought (well, up until clicking on this article, at least), then allow me to give you a punchy introduction to the basics of business storage: what it involves, why you might need it, and how you can choose the right storage solution for your business. Let’s get right to it.

What Does Business Storage Involve?

At the bare minimum, running a business of any size requires space, whether for equipment, resources, staff, or inventory. Owing to the unpredictable nature of demand and the need for backup equipment to mitigate the potential damage of accidents or failures, there is a significant disparity between the space the typical business needs to operate unladen and the space it needs to comfortably contain everything it owns without disrupting that operation.

Think about how awkward it would be for the average person to sleep in a room containing everything they owned — all their clothes, electronics, old photos, everything. They’d have no space to move, it would be deeply hazardous, and all their belongings would be at risk of being crushed under their feet while trying to navigate the mess.

Instead of living that way, we segment our belongings, keeping only what we need in our sleeping areas and securing everything else in other rooms. That’s essentially the service that business storage provides for businesses. It allows them to store all the things they don’t need to carry out their daily operations, and thus keep their premises clear and efficient.

Why Might You Need Business Storage?

There are very few types of business that can operate indefinitely without accumulating products or equipment. If you’re a committed freelancer getting by with a laptop and a Starbucks loyalty card, then you can probably make it from one fiscal year to the next without needing to put down roots, but if you have any kind of team, you’ll need a cooperative working space — that means furniture, desks, electronic equipment, and much more besides.

And if you sell any kind of product, then you need somewhere to keep your inventory. If your supplier offers you a great deal on a bulk shipment, you’re not going to be able to stack it all in a cramped office space (especially if it’s on the fifth floor). You’ll need somewhere to securely offload it while you keep working on leads. You could get a giant ground floor office, perhaps, but there’s a problem with that idea.

See, in thriving areas of the country like Texas, rental costs are rising steadily. If you’re a Texas-based entrepreneur with big aspirations but a modest budget, you’re in something of a bind — you might consider buying a business in Houston, but only if you’re willing to consider areas still in need of renovation. Otherwise, you’re going to be paying through the nose for an office space with some decent size.

If you make use of business storage, you can rent a minimalist office space that’s just big enough for you and any people you employ. Everything else you need will be kept in a low-rent location that is convenient and secure. That also affords you the advantage of having mobility. Find a better rate on office space elsewhere? You barely have anything to move over.

How to Choose the Right Business Storage For You

If you’ve decided that business storage is something you need, then look no further than your local self-storage facility. You might think of self-storage just as a place where people stash all of their extra junk, but in fact about 30 percent of the customer base for self-storage is commercial.

Some facilities are better suited for business customers, so be careful which company you choose. Think of the many high-value items you might store — can you risk not properly vetting several options?

Location is something you should investigate first, because that will significantly affect your storage experience. If you’re just looking to store old files that you don’t need to access everyday, then you might not worry about proximity. Most commonly businesses store things that they need to be able to reach fairly quickly. If you’re storing surplus stock, for instance (instead of selling it cheap), you might see an unexpected surge in business and quickly need to replenish your supplies or else risk losing your momentum.

Once you find somewhere that seems suitable, investigate the company. What do you make of the website? The rates? Aim to answer the following questions at a minimum:

  • What is the level of security on offer?
  • Would anyone else have access to your space?
  • What’s the alarm protocol if someone tries to break in?
  • Is there drive-up access? (This can be good or bad, depending on your needs.)
  • What do existing clients say?
  • What can and can’t you store in the space?
  • Are there any access limitations?

If you’re satisfied with the answers and the rates are reasonable, then go for it. Remember that storage contracts are month-to-month. Whenever you don’t need the space, you can stop renting it. Be mindful that another client may swoop in to take it after you are gone.

Confirm that your belongings are covered by your business insurer, otherwise acquire a limited line policy from the storage operator.

Do You Need Business Storage?

So, now that we’ve covered the basics of business storage — now it is time to decide how to use it. Is it something your business could benefit from? If you’re struggling to handle a swelling inventory and you could use some operational flexibility, give it a try.

It might be just what you need.

Kayleigh Alexandra writes about the small business life for Micro Startups, a blog obsessed with actionable advice for helping passionate people achieve their dreams. To learn more, stop by the blog for the latest news and stories, and remember to follow us on Twitter @getmicrostarted.

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