1. Assess the skills you have and those that you don’t. I would assume you have the skills and equipment necessary to build storage buildings. Do you know how to set up your financial system? Do you know where your start up money is coming from? If you don’t, learn those skills or have someone else who knows how to handle your business. Quicken had a good small business software program that is easy to use. If you have difficulty with this part of the business, hire someone who is skilled in this area that you feel comfortable working with who can take care of this part of the business for you. This person will help you decide how you will pay your workers. (Are they subcontractors or employees?), take care of payroll issues, (taxes), and give you insights in ways to make your business more financially efficient.
2. Check out the ‘competition’. How can you do things differently than they are doing them? Make note of what segment of the storage building market has not yet been adequately addressed in your area. Provide value rather than considering a lower price. (You want to make money, right?) Consider using higher quality materials or consider ways to speed up the building process rather than cutting cost. By making a better product you will be selling to the higher end customer who is willing usually willing to pay a higher wage as well as for better materials. Identify what is available, in what price range, with what special features. Remember too that not all of your competitors have brick and mortar locations. Be sure to look at your online competition.
3. Have a building where you can construct your buildings any time without concern for the weather. Because storage buildings are often smaller than other buildings, they can be fabricated one place then put together on the site If you’re considering using your garage as your prefabrication site, be sure to follow local zoning laws.
4. While you’re checking out local zoning laws, get the proper contractor’s license and other necessary licensing; learn the local building permit laws. Obtain the proper business licenses for your area by checking with your county’s business division, often found at the local court house. Forgetting to get the necessary licensing will result in fines and that is not good for the bottom line in your storage building business.
5. Find the best prices for the materials you will be using. Since you have a contractor’s license you can buy your materials wholesale but don’t forget to shop around. Finding ways to save even a few pennies per board foot can amount to the difference between breaking even and having profit at the end of the year. Speak with local building-material suppliers to determine at what point you would qualify for volume pricing.
6. Create only a few basic designs that you plan to work with that complement the homes in your area. If the designs of homes in your area require specific designs that require special tools, then you know you will need to special tools.
7. Create miniature versions of your basic storage building designs. Take pictures (or have a skilled photographer take pictures) of these designs and with these pictures create business cards, brochures and flyers. You may want cut costs by using templates produced by publishing software on your computer.
8. When beginning your business, don’t quit your day job until you discover that your day job is interfering with your business. If you have a location where you can prefabricate your buildings, you will be able to work in the evening pre-fabricating your buildings then on Saturdays you can erect the storage building on the site. This way you can reinvest your income from your business into your business initially rather than requiring you to live on your business income.
9. In the beginning especially, don’t over-spend in the advertising department. Begin by using free advertising like the billboard in the local hardware store, grocery, or restaurant. Don’t forget Craigslist and other free advertising on the internet. Get the word out by telling your friends and family. Hand out your business cards to everyone you meet. Place a small ad in the local ‘free paper’. Look around at neighborhoods and find houses that do not have storage buildings. If door to door solicitation is against the law in the area, creatively find some other way to connect with them.
10. One place you will want to spend on advertising is at home and garden trade shows. Here you will not only be able to show your storage buildings with potential clients but don’t forget to network with other venders at the show. Leave your business cards brochures and fliers with everyone you connect with. When one of their clients are looking to build a storage building and ask them who they know that builds storage buildings, they will have a business card to share with them.
11. Always be professional. Put your proposal into writing. Make any changes and be sure that you and your customer agree on the work you are to perform. Both you and the customer will need to sign and date the contract. Never do any work until you have a detailed signed dated contract. Do what you say you will do when you say you’re going to do it. This not only includes finishing a job on time but includes every area of your business. When people see that you’re an honest, hard-working company who does quality work and finishes the job on time, you will have a successful profitable storage building business.