How to Grow Your Small Business

  • Author
    Alan Denke
  • Published
    May 12, 2024
  • Word count

Do you have a home business? Do you have a great idea and want to get started? One of the first major challenges you may face is having enough space. Stepping up to the space you need, while maintaining a budget can be a huge challenge for small businesses. Let’s look at how some small businesses dealt with space and growth.

Melissa Mercado-Denke started Campanula Design Studio in a two-car garage. Growing from a garage to a thriving online and retail business has been a floral adventure. Melissa delivers something unique to the gifting community in Seattle. Campanula sells wooden baskets that hold both florals and gift offerings. The baskets are custom and made at home. This required a separate space to isolate the sawdust from the flowers. The local government required that Melissa store alcohol in a secure location. This meant having a special place in the garage for these items.

As sales grew, the neighborhood was not thrilled with the noisy power tools used to make baskets. The planer’s rhythmic hum as it danced on old fence boards was not a welcome noise to neighbors. Seattle’s variable temperature added another layer of challenge. Designing flowers in the garage was a labor of love, but success brought its own set of challenges.

The Quest for Space

As demand soared Melissa moved into a dedicated workspace. Enter SaltBox, a solution tailor-made for small businesses like Melissa’s. Saltbox is a co-warehousing and 3rd party logistics company.

Co-warehousing companies exist around the country. They offer amenities like:

Shared kitchen spaces

Sound-proof phone rooms

Shared meeting rooms

Photo studios

Shipping stations

Package pickup by major carriers

Shared restrooms

Shared office equipment

Wi-Fi networks

Shopping for the Right Co-Warehousing Space

Try researching warehouse space leasing companies like ReadySpaces, WeWork, CubeWork, Room2Work, and Saltbox. See what companies have a presence in your city. To find a shared warehouse space you need to ask some important questions:

  1. Do you need ground-level shipping and receiving? If not now, will you soon need dock access?

  2. How much space do you need and what is the cost per square foot of each option?

  3. Do you have specific electrical needs? Melissa had a floral cooler which is best kept on its own circuit. Will your landlord allow for such custom installations?

  4. What sort of lighting is available in your space? Will you be taking product shots there and having to set up a photo station? Does the landlord have a photo studio as an amenity?

  5. What about meeting rooms? Do you meet with customers or vendors?

  6. Budget: Can you afford this space at the sales level you are at now? If not, are you on a growth trajectory to afford it soon?

  7. Will the landlord’s amenities help you save on some costs? If you don’t have to pay a Wi-Fi provider or buy a refrigerator, can those costs help justify the space?

  8. What about privacy? Does the space have floor to ceiling walls? Will you be subjected to your neighbor’s terrible taste in music?

  9. Look at all the options in and around your city. Consider commute time – how accessible is this to your home, your vendors, or your customers? Co-warehousing options are popping up all over – some are part of larger chains and some are local.

Investing in Growth

Success has a way of outgrowing its confines, and soon, the need for a retail space became clear. The warehouse space was just not good enough for servicing Melissa’s customers or attracting drive-by business. Watching your local real estate market can be critical to a business owner. Melissa had priced the rental of retail spaces, but hadn’t found the right space at the right price. One day, she found a commercial condo unit for sale that worked out to less of a per-month cost than renting. This was surprising for the Seattle market, and serves as a reminder to always keep your options open. Historically, an investment in real estate has been the lifesaver for some companies. It’s always good to know what is out there, even if it is out of reach for now.

No Budget? Try Pop-ups!

There are still options if renting, or purchasing are not in your budget. Sarah Herbert of Toadstool Flower Club has found a creative answer in Pop-up retail. Pop-up retail allows you to set up a temporary store for a short period of time. This allows you to take advantage of seasonal demand. This can take place in a farmer’s market style setting with other retailers. There are also other options for pop-ups. Study the neighborhood. See if you can find a non-competitor who might be willing to share some space. Some businesses will be happy to have an event like a plant sale, or craft sale to draw in more customers. Sarah has sold houseplants and Christmas wreaths at donut shops and neighborhood cafes. If you have a product that attracts attention, chances are you can find a business willing to lend you some space, even if it’s on the sidewalk outside.

Most Importantly, Don’t Give Up!

You’ll never succeed if you don’t try. You’ll never get rewarded if you don’t take risks. Try one of our ideas or find one of your own that suits your business. Take a chance and prepare for growth!

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