Starting a small business is an accomplishment anyone would be proud of, but it cannot be underestimated the amount of hard work and effort involved. It may look easy from the outside, but the truth is new small businesses need time in order to find their feet; once a good routine gets going, and contracts are established the process becomes easier, but it does take time to get there.
One of the problems small businesses often face is managing their inventory; if it isn’t managed correctly it’s like a downward spiral from there, everything else tends to be a nightmare, starting with the bookkeeping! So, in order to run a smooth, successful business, it’s vital that owners keep track of their working inventory efficiently.
Inventory Management Tips
Lots of things can disrupt your inventory management, and one of them tends to be lack of space; owners could be in the process of trying to grow a business when suddenly they find themselves in an overwhelming situation where the stock takes over the store or office, with every last inch of available space occupied. If this is the issue you currently face right now, then it’s time to get your organisation skills into action and obtain a business ‘working environment’ that is both practical to work in and easy to manage.
Here are some helpful tips to get your business on the right track:
- Clear out old inventory!
When owners have invested so much money into their business, it may be hard to part with past purchases that are never or rarely used or products not being sold anymore. This is doing you and your business absolutely no favours whatsoever and is clogging up space – space that could be put to better use!
Clearing out and decluttering is better for business, it helps a company move forward, and perhaps invest in newer things later on like upgrading unused stock and supplies. Just be sure to log an inventory adjustment as you go along, with a valid reason such as wastage, making notes of old inventory you no longer stock and will throw away or donate, and keep your bookkeeping up to date, including your accountant, if anything financially significant is no longer part of the business.
- Tracking methods!
Most businesses have a best-seller range in their inventory, and for many, it usually accounts for 20% of their range, with the remaining 80% simply making up the numbers. When sorting through your stock it’s good to track the best sellers and store those items within convenient reach, as they are your most valuable assets when it comes to sales, and you need to be able to access accordingly. Arrange storage so that best-sellers are stored at the front, and as you descend, it’s the less significant or lower value to business items further back.
- Storage solutions!
As the business grows and stock mounts up, space generally becomes limited.
Commercial storage units are ideal as they help to remove the clutter from the workplace or home. They offer a secure, climate-controlled environment with the option to expand your purchases and supplies for business. They can also be rigged with shelving and hooks etc. to offer a superb organised space that’s easy to access and use.
For growing small businesses, it’s generally effective to arrange for inventory to be stored off-site as it keeps your home free from the clutter, not to mention your brain. It can be stressful if home-life doesn’t allow you to wind down anymore due to living amongst the hustle and bustle of it all. Also, off-site storage is convenient since it allows the opportunity to give any employees a key to the unit instead of your home. With regard to costs for this service, you’d be pleasantly surprised by its affordability when compared to the costs of a commercial warehouse.
- Organisation is the key!
Inventory management works effectively when everything’s fully organised, and it doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated to maintain effectiveness. The most important thing is that a small business organises and upholds their routine so that a workable system is reached. Certain types of businesses will do things differently to others, for instance, shops that sell unique items like perhaps an antiques store may require a more specialised inventory management programme than a store that sells bulk loads of the same kind of product.
To make things easier, try to organise items by product type or price range and always keep them in the same place so that you can access easily and without getting items mixed up or lost.
When items are stored in boxes, a good way to arrange things is to display a digital print on the outer surface, that way you won’t have to open every box to find the item you require. You could also use stickers with codes or numbers which relate to the item to make life easier within the stock and storage facility.
- Virtual offices for home workers!
Working from home is convenient and cost-effective for many, but in order to separate work from home life, it will require some dedication. When running your business from home, it’s so easy to fall into a combination of both homely duties whilst performing your working tasks, and oftentimes laziness can creep in, especially on tired days.
At the office, a work ethic mindset is easier to uphold because of being away from home, and with lesser distractions around us, so to try emulating that kind of scenario at home, a good working office environment is the key! Not everyone can budget for an office at home, so some choose to use a virtual one instead. Virtual offices are extremely helpful for small businesses that work from home but have a lack of funds or space to set up a real one. Basically, a small monthly fee is paid, and everything is provided. You gain a business contact number (separate from your home one), a receptionist who will take calls, a business address for parcels, packages and mail, a voice mailbox which is personalised and a fax number which ideally converts to email. This workable system is ideal for being able to separate business from home life.
- Finding the perfect App!
These days there is an App for everything, and inventory management is no exception since you can find a helpful App for this too. Small businesses don’t generally have spare funds, and the budget is generally tight, so enlisting an App is an affordable approach to take. Inventory Management Apps replace the need for expensive software, and some Apps are even free to use; prices depend on what’s on the table, the more hands-off you’d like to be, the pricier the App!