Starting a small business is easier than ever thanks to international wholesale supplier websites, affordable shipping services, and other online resources. Yet once you're buying pallets of products at a time or need more space for keeping your raw materials and packaging in order, you might think that your only option is a warehouse lease. However, a commercial self-storage unit is likely a better choice for a growing small business. Find out how storage units and warehouses differ so you can pick the right space for your needs.
Do you ship your products across the country or only sell products locally and for pickup? Then you likely don't need a warehouse space. Warehouses are designed for truck access so a shipping company can pick hundreds of packages at a time from you. When you're only packing two to three orders a day, you can definitely handle picking up products by hand and taking them home or to another office space. Warehouses dedicate a lot of space to aisles and paths between racking so forklifts and other heavy equipment can travel between the shelves. If you'd rather make more efficient use of a space to save money, a commercial storage unit is a more flexible option.
Space and Price
In general, storage space is more flexible to adapting to your financial and storage needs at the same time. If you don't need your second unit because you're downsizing a product line, you can drop a short-term lease without hefty fees. Growing and adding more space is just as easy, especially if you choose a large commercial storage facility with plenty of open units. You tend to get a better rate per square foot of total space by choosing commercial storage units, but this varies based on your area and the offers available from individual companies.
Most full warehouse rentals include at least a small amount of office space so you can conduct business out of the building. Storage units may or may not include separate office space, but in most cases contracts strictly include enclosed storage space. Many contracts bar business owners from moving in computer equipment and spending hours operating a business out of the unit. Other companies are happy to make this kind of arrangement with an entrepreneur. Talk to your commercial storage provider to find out how flexible they are with the use of storage space as an affordable office area.
Many warehouse spaces including racking so you don't have to spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars more on equipment just to use a rented space. Unfortunately, this limits the flexibility of a warehouse space because the racking is permanently mounted to the floor for safety and durability. If you need to rearrange your storage to accommodate different types of equipment, such as used restaurant appliances or antique furniture of different types, you may not want to deal with permanent racking and shelving. In this case, commercial storage is a better choice for flexibility.
Finally, consider your need for climate control in your storage space and the cost this can add to a rental contract. Most warehouse rentals require you to pay for electricity and other utilities yourself, leaving you footing the bill to cool or heat an entire large and drafty space. Commercial storage units are smaller and more tightly sealed, providing more efficient climate control. You can build smaller enclosures in a warehouse to act as coolers or freezers, but this is done at your cost and makes less financial sense than renting a separate climate-controlled storage unit.