Fancy setting up a business of your own? Do you daydream of sleek white offices or cute boutique shops where you’re the boss? Perhaps you’ve got amazing skills in crafting, sewing or design and everyone keeps telling you that you should do it as a job. Or maybe you’ve been working in an industry for so long that you know it inside out and just know that you could do a better job working for yourself. If you’ve been thinking about setting up a business there are plenty of things to consider long before you take the plunge and I’d love to chat through a few of these with you today.
Setting up your online store
These days many business start out online and grow their customer base before requiring a physical store. So if you’re thinking about creating a website, I’d definitely recommend doing your research before buying a domain, a hosting plan, e-commerce package or site-building software. Some are more user-friendly than others – so you’d be able to design the website yourself and save money – while some might have hidden charges for future updates or for adding more data storage as your business grows. An easy way to dip your toes in is to list your products on already-established retail sites such as Etsy, Folksy, Not On the High Street or even Ebay. You’ll pay different fees for selling via these sites but it may be less expensive than setting up your own e-commerce site and customers will be able to find you more easily.
The internet is THE best place to promote your business so use all the free resources to get your name out there. You definitely want to link a blog to your e-commerce site, because the regularly updated content on a blogroll is great for SEO and will help increase your ranking on Google. There are plenty of free social media platforms you can use to promote your business – think Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Google+ etc.
Save money with better storage
Finding ways to save money should be one of the focuses of every business manager and owner. When it comes to providing adequate storage for a business, this can be a cost-saving measure in its own right. All sorts of costs drop as a result of increased capacity in storage or a more rational approach to keeping stored items in good order. First of all, handling errors are minimised by staff when storage is laid out well. They tend to be able to find the components they need or able to fulfil customer orders more rapidly. This means greater productivity which, in turn, means you need fewer staff, thus saving money.
In addition, well laid-out storage of paper records, stock and goods-out areas means that mistakes are made less frequently. Having to fix something that has gone wrong is so much more costly to businesses than getting it right first time! High-quality storage improves efficiency, leads to better customer fulfilment and reduces costs year on year.
Minimise processing costs
There will always be costs associated with businesses who are retailing online, as you need to get the product to the customer quickly and in great condition. So shopping around for suitable suppliers of low-cost boxes, packaging, tape, tissue paper, packing materials and anything else you need to pack up an order (ribbons and personalised stickers are a cute touch) is essential. It might be easy to stick with the first company you speak to, but if you’ve got a quote from one supplier, why not get in touch with a couple more to see if they can match or beat the price. You may find it beneficial to stick with a local company – even if a national brand DOES end up being a littler cheaper – because you’ll probably be able to get in touch with them more easily, develop good business relationships (perhaps there’s something you can do for them?) and if you need something in a hurry you can actually go straight to them to physically pick up a box of tape etc.
Delivery companies also should be compared before you start selling online, so that you know how much you should be charging for P&P. You could end up losing money if you just pluck a delivery charge out of the air! Postage costs vary wildly so it’s a good idea to pack, weigh and measure your product and then get quotes for the delivery. It could very well be easier to pop to the local post office each day, but if you’re sending out high volumes of products each day, perhaps having one courier collect all the parcels from you at once would be more convenient – and cheaper!
Avoiding accidents is essential to any business, whether you’re working on a building site or in a shop, so it’s essential to tackle health and safety issues head on. Okay, paperwork might not be the most fun part of running your own business but you MUST risk assess every space, all activities and each member of staff. With all of the financial implications that might come about if injury occurs, having health and safety procedures in place is an absolute must, as any type of litigation for even the smallest issue might be enough to close your business down. It ought to be mentioned that better storage helps workers to operate safely in the warehouse or stock room so investing in robust storage systems is essential too.
Grow your capacity
As your business grows and customer demand increases, it’s likely that you’ll start to work in higher volumes. It’s a great idea to look into the possibility of buying in bulk, as it leads to lower costs per unit and therefore more profits for you. Perhaps you’ll will start having your designs mass-produced by a manufacturer or plan to start bulk ordering stock for your shop. Of course, you’ll need more space to set up a production line or to store all the custom-made items you’ve created but don’t worry about moving premises just yet! There are a number of ways that you can increase capacity of your current business without having to go to the expense of hiring more space in the unit you currently use or face the inconvenience of using a self-storage facility, perhaps miles away from your place of work. When more space is required for hand picking of items, installing a mezzanine can be the preferred option. Indeed, they can almost double the amount of room you have to operate in! Different companies, such as Warehouse Storage Solutions, offer mezzanine floor service, which provides great working flexibility and can be used for extra office space as well as for conventional storage.
I hope that these ideas for saving money when you’re starting out and growing your business will help you in the future. I’d love to hear more tips for cutting-costs so please do leave me a comment below with your ideas. And please tweet me @Cassiefairy if you’re starting a business of your own because I’d love to share it with my followers!