All business ventures start with a great idea, but successful business ventures are built on organisation, structure, routine and efficiency, as much as business know-how and an eye for a good deal.
Savvy stock organisation, and sensible office structure and workflow, form the infrastructure that creates a firm business foundation.
An Efficient Home Office
Choosing to take care of admin, paperwork, customer service, communications and promotions from home makes sense for many entrepreneurs. Organisation and efficiency is key, however, for maintaining a healthy life/work balance.
If you can, try to keep your “office” all in one area rather than dotted about the house in separate rooms. When you organise a dedicated office space (whether it’s the luxury of the spare room or you commandeer a corner in the kitchen) it’s easy to keep everything neat, and also easier to make the space off-limits to children. You could:
Put up shelves over your desk to hold box files or reference books.
Have a small filing cabinet or chest nearby, on which you can house the printer and store your copier paper and stationery supplies.
Have a dedicated draw (or use desk tidy’s) to store pens, pencils, paper clips and other small bits and bobs that tend to go missing.
The idea is to create a work area where you can get into ‘work mode’, and not have your chain of thought broken by needing to walk across the room to retrieve an item you need.
Minimise the Paper Trail
Make the most of cloud storage so you can cut down on the amount of paper you handle and store in physical files. This extends to receipts and many of the other documents you need to hang onto for HMRC tax record purposes. Even physical receipts can be scanned or photographed then digitally uploaded into cloud storage, and these are now accepted by HMRC in place of the physical originals.
Cloud storage is nothing new, but to use it efficiently you need to set up automatic syncing so your created documents, spreadsheets or databases automatically upload when you update them. If you rely on memory to physically transfer them to the cloud, not only are you sure to forget something, you’re wasting precious time by adding an unnecessary step into your workflow.
Coping with Seasonal Adjustments
Every business that sells physical products needs additional storage to satisfy the extra demand for items especially around Christmas time. It’s during this period that many entrepreneurs run into difficulties, especially those running the business from home. No one wants demand to outstrip supply. There’s nothing worse than having orders pouring in, knowing you’re unable to satisfy them because you didn’t have space to store additional stock.
The solution is simple: you need extra storage space. Many entrepreneurs worry about the additional overhead, or the cost of a long-term contract when they no longer need space.
Stepping up to fill the gap, self storage facilities welcome entrepreneurs and small business owners, providing exactly the kind of spaces needed whether it’s in the short term to satisfy seasonal fluctuations, or longer-term storage.
Particular benefits include:
Short-term contracts that run from week to week, you’re never locked in or forced to rent more space than you need.
Wide variety of storage space sizes. They start from locker sized and go right up to warehouse size.
Long opening hours and convenient locations make them ideal for those working the business around family commitments.
Secure and private, with pallet trucks and trolleys that make loading and unloading easy.
Helpful staff that will take receipt of deliveries when you can’t be there.
Another hack that makes self storage a real boon for any online retailer is the ability to add a small desk or table into the storage area, which is then used as a pack and dispatch station. Obviously, this saves time and effort because it cuts down on travel and handling. With your customer list and orders to hand, you can do all packing and labelling on-site then post everything on your way home.
Storage is one of those things that should operate invisibly in the background. Get it wrong, and business can feel muddled and overwhelming. Get it right and everything slots into place easily.