It is no secret that the Internet has prompted many people to start their own business, and many of those people are running those businesses from home. While this keeps overheads to a minimum, it can present a problem for businesses that do not have storage space for physical stock.
The knock-on effect of this is that warehousing businesses are in greater demand, but that does not necessarily mean that every warehousing business will be a success. Before you commit to starting a warehousing business, here are some important questions you need to ask yourself to ensure you give the project the best chance of success.
Is there a demand for your service?
It may seem an obvious statement, but there is no point in starting a warehouse business if there will not be enough clients wanting your service.
Small businesses can choose to rent a storage space for their stock, which is less than ideal, or they may choose to rent space in a large warehouse, which is often costly. Your warehouse service may offer a solution for these businesses if you can do so at an affordable price.
Your first step is to investigate the warehouse services that are already in your area, as well as local businesses that might need storage space.
How will your warehouse business operate?
If/when you decide that there is enough demand for your business, you need to consider how the warehouse will operate.
This includes deciding where you will be leasing or buying your warehouse building. It will need to have enough space for shelving which is able to take a great deal of weight, as well as a shipping area with a loading dock.
You will need staff who will be able to handle products with efficiency and care, as well as written procedures and health and safety policies.
Will you need to buy equipment and machinery? For example, a conveyor system that transports materials and/or products from one area of the warehouse to another could maximize efficiency and productivity, but it will require upfront investment.
How will you finance your business?
Often the main obstacle facing entrepreneurs is the financing of a startup business. Costs will vary, but you are looking at thousands of dollars for leasing premises, setting up equipment, and employing staff. It is common for entrepreneurs to turn to bank loans, angel investors, or family/friends when looking for initial start-up funds.
A commercial bank often has the strictest criteria when it comes to approving a loan, and you may need to put up collateral.
Alternatively, the Small Business Administration (SBA) can give loans and grants to small businesses which struggle to get traditional loans. Once you are operational, you will also need to cover the running costs and wages until you are profitable, which may take some time.
Do you have a written business plan?
Every startup business, whether you are seeking funding from a lender or an investor or not, needs a written business plan.
The plan outlines how the business will operate from a logistical and financial point of view, how much you will charge, your marketing strategy, and which clients you will be targeting. It should also outline the financial projections for your first few years of business including turnover, losses, and profits.