ALTHOUGH half of all new Scottish businesses start in the home, tools, equipment and stock can soon remove the advantages of a lack of commute and high rental costs.
Begins a spokesperson: “The backbone of the economy, small businesses account for 49 per cent of private sector employment, and a third of turnover.
“However, the high cost of warehouse and office space can restrict the growth plans of new business owners.
“In order to avoid unaffordable warehouse costs, business start-ups in Aberdeen are following an innovative US storage trend, by using self storage facilities as a flexible, affordable base.
“Self-storage companies started in the US in the 1970s, and then concept has grown in the UK over the past 20 years.”
When mother and daughter team, Maggie and Charlotte Litherland, set up their lawn specialist business, Green Thumb in Aberdeen, they struggled to find somewhere to keep their stock of lawn treatment products, and chose Simply Self Storage – a 75,000 sq ft facility in Mugiemoss Road.
Maggie said: “We were expanding rapidly with valuable equipment, so needed a safe and secure base.
“The chemicals we use need to be stored in a clean and dry environment, which was difficult to find. As our business grew, we increased the space we needed before moving out to our own premises.
“As a small business, we didn’t want to take on our own warehouse until the business was ready, which is why self storage was ideal.”
Simply Self Storage in Aberdeen, which opened in 2006, is due to open a second south in and south Aberdeen in 2016.
Martin Bell, from Aberdeen’s Hot Tiki Events, explains that clean, dry and well-lit storage can be vital to a small business.
He said: “As well as wedding décor which needs to be kept in an ambient, dry space, we have recently had a huge Jabba the Hut replica form Star Wars at Simply Self Storage.”
For sole traders, a reception desk willing to take deliveries, and a safe, well lit environment offers a very different prospect to dark, damp shipping container sites.
Scandinavian home furnishings importer, Liselotte Osugo, of Urban Outline, rented a second unit to make room for her popular Swedish Santa Claus ornaments. “Some of the items I import are too large to store at home, but my business is not big enough to warrant renting a warehouse. Self storage gives me the flexibility to expand when I need to.”
Rennie Schafer, chief executive of Self Storage Association UK, says: “For small businesses self storage represents a flexible way to can store their goods and their materials.
“And they only pay for the storage they need rather than a warehouse which could be half empty one month and then overflowing the next.”
Jon Wilson, operations director from Simply Self Storage, said: “Whilst you can start a business with nothing more than a smart phone, and grow that enterprise by using social media alone, when it comes to stock and equipment, a growing business will soon be in need of space.
“We have seen many small businesses grow from one unit into several units before venturing out to their own property when the time is right. For others, such as seasonal businesses or sole traders, the flexibility and security we offer enables them to meet customer needs and keep costs to a minimum. It just makes sense.”
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