How to Use Storage as an Entrepreneur

Jon Fesmire |

So, you’ve been selling items online, maybe on eBay, maybe on Etsy, or maybe through your own site, and it’s going great. Or, you have a small store, and sales are going so well that you don’t have enough room in your building for extra stock.

Don’t fret. Self storage is a great solution for storing your inventory year round.

Why Self Storage?

Self storage offers many advantages for small businesses that need a place to keep inventory.

  • Price and Privacy: You could store your items in a shared warehouse, and you might save a few dollars doing so. However, you would share the space with others, and a warehouse employee would have to get your items for you, which you may have to pay for each time. Overall, this adds up to a hassle.  With self storage, you have access to your unit every day, and can drop off or pick up items as needed. Unit prices vary greatly depending on location, but across the U.S., average between $40 and $50 for a 5x5, between $75 and $140 for a 10x15 (or $115 and $150 with climate control), and between $95 and $155 for a 10x20 (or $170 and $180 with climate control).

  • Easy to Expand: Self storage facilities will work with you as you grow your business. You may start off storing in a 5x10, get great sales, and need to upgrade to a 10x15. You may start with a basic unit, then decide your product will keep better in one with climate control. Often, you can book a new unit online and schedule a date to close out your old one, then simply go to the facility and move everything to the new unit.

  • Tax Deduction: When storing inventory at home, unless you keep it all in one designated room, it can be difficult deducting the amount of rent spent on that specific area from your taxes. If you store in a self storage unit, you know exactly how much your business pays in storage fees every year, making it easier to list on your tax forms.

  • Receiving Deliveries: Most self storage facilities accept deliveries to units! You’ll want to ask the manager at yours for details, but this way, you don’t have to haul your deliveries to your unit.

  • Short Term Lease: You don’t have to sign any long-term lease with self storage. You lease, and pay, month to month.

The How To

Now that you know the advantages of using self storage for your business, you’re ready to rent a storage unit. Here are some important steps to take.

Decide if you need a unit with climate control or not. If you live in an area prone to hot, humid weather or cold, dry weather (or, like many locations, both), you should know that climate control is essential for protecting your items. Humidity can cause mold or mildew to grow on your inventory. Cold can cause wood to warp and crack.

Compare facilities. You may find, for example, that one near you charges more per month for units, but that a facility a mile away offers the same level of service, but has lower rental prices. In that case, it may be worth renting at the second one.

Ask what the facility doesn’t allow. For example, you won’t be able to store flammable chemicals or explosives, including ammunition. You can’t store open food containers, live animals, or live plants, either, as these can attract pests. You also can’t store anything illegal. What if you sell items that use plant or animal materials? For example, you might craft jewelry that displays preserved butterflies or bees. In that and similar cases, ask the facility manager and explain exactly what you hope to store there. If it is legal and poses no risks, they just might allow it.

The facility may offer you self storage insurance on your items when you rent. Ask exactly what it covers. You’ll want to have the value of your items covered, and might have to take out additional insurance, either through the facility, or privately.

Make sure all your stored items are clean and dry, and store them in airtight plastic bins. Create a labeling system for your bins as well, that tells you what products are in each one. Perhaps you’ll have letters to represent types of items, and numbers for specific items.

Using a self storage unit to store your business inventory, as an entrepreneur, can create space in your home, save you money, and provide a safe, temperature-controlled location for your inventory. It just might be the ideal situation for your growing business.