Now that you’ve created your business and have many of the preliminary plans in place, it’s time to prepare for production on the scale that is right for you. Every company will have different needs.
Where will your work space be? Some people can work out of their home, while others need more space. Perhaps you can start in your home and move into a larger facility when your business expands. I’ve known fairly large scale businesses that didn’t need to rent extra space for years, because they could work within their home.
If you do rent a space, make sure you lease the least expensive space possible to produce what you need. Having a high overhead to start is risky, especially if you’re locked into the lease for any length of time. Be sure you can afford it into the future.
However, if you can’t get around leasing a space, you can sometimes find very good deals, especially in a sluggish economy. Stuart Siegel, executive managing director for New York City’s Grubb & Ellis, said, “This has become a tenant’s market.” According to him, the small business owner often has the upper hand, because landlords are a bit desperate.
If you’re on a very tight budget, but just can’t run your business from your small studio apartment on the tenth floor, there are a few creative options open to you. Consider sharing a space with another small business. You can either network to find another entrepreneur or start your own co-working space.
If your budget for an office space can jingle in your pocket, don’t give up quite yet. There may still be a few choices. Libraries and coffee shops can offer you a quiet space, often with free wireless internet. Another option might be to ask one of your clients. One might love having you on their premises for easy access.
Furniture and equipment
If you need furniture and equipment, you might consider leasing the basics. It would give you a measure of flexibility, because you can replace equipment as needed. In addition, you might be able to write off the expense come tax time.
The downside to leasing is the cost. It can add a large monthly expense that might be hard to meet. Plus, you will never really own the equipment, which means once the lease is up, you don’t really have anything to show for your months of payments.
You may decide it is more advantageous to own your own things. There’s a pride in that and it does add to your business asset list. In addition, there are tax breaks for small businesses that choose to pay for furniture and equipment. The IRS also allows a depreciation discount, an annual allowance for wear and tear of larger equipment.
If you do purchase your furniture and equipment, you will either need to pay in full upfront or put down a deposit. Both costs can be prohibitive to a new business owner. On top of that, you must remember that you are responsible for the maintenance, which can be expensive and time consuming.
Your business will have a niche list of supplies to perform your daily tasks. For instance, if you’re starting a cleaning business you’ll need dozens of different cleansers and tools. Or if you’re starting a catering business, you’ll need cooking supplies, plus specialty items like food carriers and beverage dispensers.
If you’re not careful, you can go a bit crazy with supplies and before you know it, you’ll have a huge bill. The best strategy is to determine a realistic budget before you shop and force yourself to stick to it.
Of course, some supplies are impossible to get around. You’ll need a computer, a printer, pens, paper, and other organizational tools to run a successful business.
On top of that, your business may have raw material costs, which need to be purchased in advance, probably in bulk to get a decent price. Order well in advance, taking into account the time it will take the wholesaler to ship the materials to you.
No matter what kind of small business you’re setting up, you’ll need certain technology devices to help you make things easier, such as:
Depending on your needs, you may require a landline as well as a cell phone. Both cost quite a bit each month. Some companies require multiple lines for various devices, like phones and fax machines. How about paging and intercom capabilities throughout the office? Consider all your needs upfront.
If you’re able to invest in a high tech cell phone, make sure to download all the applications you’ll need. In addition, it’s a good idea to actively promote using all the social media applications, like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.
One useful feature you might consider for your cell phone is the mobile hotspot, which gives wireless internet capability to your devices, like tablets and laptops. Using this, you don’t need to rely on others for internet access if you’re out of the office.
There are a host of factors you’ll need to consider before purchasing your office computers. One of the first questions will be, do you want to use a Mac or PC? Some people have very strong opinions on this subject.
You’ll also need to determine what speed and power you’ll require, as well as the necessary storage capacity. And don’t forget to invest in a backup system. I’ve known a few business associates who lost years of information overnight when their hard drive crashed, some of it irreplaceable.
Since technology is always changing and updating, you’ll need to research available computers when you’re ready to purchase one. Some say to only stick with the name brands if you opt for a PC, while others encourage you to buy the least expensive on the market.
Bob Gaines, a manager at the IT firm, All Covered, advised, “What you want is a name you can recognize.” He goes on to say that cheap PCs aren’t always to be tested and can therefore cause you trouble down the line.
Research the software you’ll need for your particular business. Some basics would be: a database/spreadsheet program, word processing program, email program, and a contact manager.
I also highly recommend you find a great online, cloud-based contact manager you like. Make sure you can create categories for all your contacts, so that you can easily view existing clients, prospective customers, vendors, and other important groups.
If you have a website and count on business coming from people finding you on the internet, you’ll need to study the statistics from an analytics program. I use Statcounter.com and find it extraordinarily helpful. These figures help me improve my internet presence and attract more people to my business.
Once you have determined the proper production space, figured out your furniture and equipment needs, handled all your supplies, and worked out which pieces of technology you can’t live without, you’ll be set up to deliver your product to your customers without delay!