Running a small business from home allows you to be your own boss while still keeping costs as low as possible. However, there comes a time when most businesses begin to outgrow the confines of a spare room or home office.
If this time has come for you but you can’t really afford to move into a whole different office or store, what can you do? How can you control overhead costs without stifling growth? Here are four ideas for any business owner.
Rent a Storage Space
If your home office space is getting cramped, putting some supplies in a storage unit can free up space to make your office more comfortable. Renting a place to store things works best for businesses that need to house inventory, tools, large equipment, or records. Getting items like these off-site can free up your home office to allow you to hire more help or spread out your office needs.
Look for a storage unit that’s climate-controlled or is otherwise protected from the harshest elements of winter and summer. You’ll also want to choose a space that’s a little larger than you need right now so that you can organize and move around to comfortably access all your business’s belongings. In addition, create a floor plan as you fill the unit and tape it to the wall near the door for easy navigation. Be sure to update the floor plan as you move items!
Use an Outbuilding
Another way to expand without having to rent or buy new space is to assess what you can add to property you already own: your home. Adding or renovating an outbuilding — a shed, barn, garage, or basement — can give you lots of square footage for a little investment of time and money.
A shed is often the easiest solution to your growing business needs due to its low cost of installation and maintenance. Whether you have an existing building or want to put a new one up, you’ll often only need to ensure adequate lighting and electrical connections (according to your business equipment needs).
Be sure to get estimates and add up the costs of updating or adding to locations on your property, such as permits, wiring, interior finishing, decor, and home security.
Find a Co-Op
Rather than foot all the costs of operating a storefront or office on your own, you may be able to share them with other entrepreneurs. Many towns and cities now host shared office spaces where you can rent a portion of the facility and use it as much or as little as you need.
A shared office location serves not only to provide you with additional space to work, but it also gives you a place to meet with clients and vendors in a professional setting. Working with other business owners can also make you feel less isolated than working alone in your basement.
Talk with small business organizations and real estate agents in your area to locate potential cooperative settings.
Getting rid of unnecessary records and documents can help create space for necessary ones. It may also make your business more mobile.
Look for ways to purge older records, such as tax records older than 7 years. You may want to consult with your accountant or lawyer to determine a good purge schedule for individual types of documents.
Those records that you can’t shred and anything you’re unsure of can often be scanned and saved on a secure hard drive and then destroyed. You may find that this is a good time to ensure that you have an adequate backup schedule or migrate important records to a cloud storage service to protect against loss.