Editor’s Note: Here at Dispatches, we are always looking for ways to help our readers do things. For some of our readers, that means helping navigate the working world, for others, it means assisting in the ever challenging question,“what’s for dinner?” For still others, it means figuring out how to balance family life with everything else. In an effort to aid in all of these endeavors, we have collaborated on this article written specifically for our readers.
While you may not yet be in a position to need a warehouse for your business, you likely have to keep track of inventory or office supplies to keep you business moving. If you take the steps to create an efficient warehouse for these items, if you grow to need an actual warehouse you’ll already be set up for success.
An efficient warehouse (or spare closet for current supplies!) starts with a good floor plan. Whether you’re going to use what you have access to, buy the space or rent it, make sure you have a blank plan that shows the whole layout. If you’re using a closet, make sure you know what’s already there.
Start with a blank sheet of paper and list all the different areas you’ll need in the warehouse or dedicated space. Once you have a list, start labeling them on the plan. For example, paper, writing utensils, items specific to your business, etc. Make sure you have a dedicated space for receiving items. You don’t want to place a big order from SSI Schaefer but not have any place for it to go once it arrives. From your shipping to your receiving to your admin offices, try to lay it out in the most convenient, efficient way possible. You might not get it right the first time, which is why it’s a good idea to have a couple of copies of the blank layout.
On this paper plan, you may have one area labeled stock or completed projects. Your next step is to categorize all the stock or completed projects you’re going keep in your dedicated space. Let’s say your business has grown from musical instrument repair to additional supplies. You might have an area for instruments needing repair, one for repaired instruments, one for amps and PAs, and another for accessories. Categorizing stock and separating completed projects from those in progress is important for organization and productivity. If you aren’t sure where to start, try looking at supplier logs or past customer receipts. The ultimate goal is to avoid major hiccups which could spring up further down the line.
Finally, create a good system for incoming items. You may have all the materials, but without a plan for receiving and distributing items, you might end up with costly duplicates or missing an item when you need it most. It might seem silly for you to write out a formal process for how you want your business to receive and distribute items if you’re a solopreneur, but if you take care of this now, you won’t have to start from scratch if your business outgrows the home office. Plus, once you’ve got a system that works, you’ll have a guide for training future staff.