Lone working, long hours, free labour and a poor work-life balance are the most frequently recurring complaints made about ten of the worst companies to work for in the UK. However, you may not be surprised to hear that this is just the tip of the employee exploitation iceberg. A recent study by CV-Library has revealed some of the most restrictive and ridiculous workplace rules in the UK. These range from allocated and searched three-minute toilet breaks to 20 metre zone restrictions during lunch to prevent late returns.
With all of the challenges facing employees in today’s workplace, it is only natural that more and more people are turning to self employment for financial fulfilment and personal wellbeing. But how do you start a business when you have limited funds and nowhere to operate from? Long leases and tie-ins, high overheads and legal contracts can be prohibitive. Self storage is one possible solution currently being used by tens of thousands of new business enterprises up and down the UK.
Expanding into self storage
One such business is SSP Direct, a signs, security and safety products distributor in Holcombe Brook, Lancashire, which started life in a potting shed, but expanded in self storage to a credible company turning over in excess of £750,000. Husband and wife duo, Hayley and Gwyn Ewens, are now running a highly successful business from bespoke premises but feel that the transition would have taken considerably longer without the self storage catalyst. Ewens says, ‘With manageable overheads and the ability to grow as our key priorities, the decision to move into self storage was an easy one. Not only were we able to expand rapidly, but, the money we were able to save allowed us to invest in staff, growing our team from two to seven within two years.’
Rick Chebrika, owner of T-shirt business the Monthly Tee Club is following a similar trajectory having moved from his garage two years ago into self storage. Chebrika says, ‘At the Monthly Tee Club, we are committed to making a positive impact in the local community. For every T-shirt we sell, we donate one to a homeless person in Manchester. For this initiative to work, we require 24/7 access to our stock. Unlike many offices and warehouses which come with time and security restrictions, in self storage I have complete access whenever I need it. Self storage allows me to run the business the way I want, rather than restrictive opening hours dictating when I can and cannot operate.’
Launching their business, Slot Track Scenics, from the family garage in Warwickshire, Scalextric builders Guy and David Jessett quickly realised the need to expand to house their ever-increasing inventory. Jessett says, ‘Recently, we have received a surge of large-scale, bespoke commissions. To cater to this evolving demand, we have found self storage leases invaluable. Their flexibility provides us with the peace of mind that, should we receive a sudden influx of requests, we can quite easily upscale into a larger unit, and conversely, if for any reason we have to scale back, we can do so with the minimum of inconvenience and expense.’
Cheadle-based low-calorie alcohol brand, SkinnyBooze, also realised massive success after deciding to move into self storage, doubling in size year-on-year. Founder of the company Tom Bell says, ‘When my business began to gain momentum, moving into an office on the high street appeared to be the next logical step. However, considering today’s tumultuous and unpredictable economic climate, I was reluctant to make a long-term commitment to commercial premises. Seeking a cost-effective and flexible alternative, I turned to a self storage facility in the town and haven’t looked back.’
Rennie Schafer, chief executive of the Self Storage Association UK says, ‘We have seen a massive rise in the number of entrepreneurs looking to self storage to solve their space dilemmas. The safe and secure storage rooms have a range of business uses. Whether it be for retail stock, documents and administrative storage or fully-fledged head offices, self storage is your 2018 flexible friend.
‘Currently, a staggering 250,000 units in the UK are rented to start-up or established businesses, 120,000 of which are home to successful online retailers. The trend is likely to continue as small enterprises recognise the many business benefits of self storage flexibility, cost-effectiveness, security, and accessibility.’