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A Comprehensive Guide To Starting Your Self-Storage Business

Business Development

Have you ever felt like there's too much stuff in your house? You’re far from alone, which probably explains why so many people buy storage space. The self-storage market was worth USD 48.02 billion in 2020 and is expected to be worth USD 64.71 billion by 2026.

Starting a self-storage business costs a lot of money, but once it's up and running, you can make a steady income without doing much work. You just rent out units, get paid, and move on with your business.

But to get there, you need to work hard and know what you're doing. You may also need self-storage SEO.

This step-by-step guide will give you all the information you need to start a successful self-storage business. These steps will be divided into two phases: business planning and business start-up.

Phase 1: Business Planning

Self-storage businesses can be very profitable. You are responsible for your customers' personal belongings, so you should ensure that you are ready to handle this responsibility.

Before you start the business, you will need to do some careful research and detailed planning.

Step #1: Conduct Market Research

market research meeting

Self-storage is a rapidly expanding small business sector that, if approached correctly, can be highly profitable. The best way to ensure success is to conduct thorough market research before investing time, effort, and money.

A clear understanding of local demand, local competition, and potential profit margins is essential before embarking on a new business venture.

When conducting your market research, consider doing the following:

  • Start by searching for self-storage businesses in your area, both online and by looking through local newspapers.
  • Check out how much they charge, how much space they have, and what kind of service they can give.
  • The presence of many storage businesses in a given area suggests high demand, but it also indicates that the site may be fully serviced.
  • One study says that sites three or four years old but only 70% full show a soft market that you should stay away from.

Step #2: Determine Your Goals

Once you know what the local storage market looks like, it’s time to make SMART goals. It helps to ask yourself the following questions when doing so:

  • Are you interested in starting a small business that you can run part-time from home?
  • Do you want to create a medium-sized enterprise and scale up after a few months?
  • Do you want to build a bigger business requiring you to spend more time and money?  
RELATED: SMART Goal Examples

As you set your goals for your business, keep in mind that using the SMART grid will help you narrow your focus and put more attainable milestones along the way.

Step #3: Calculate Your Start-Up Costs

calculating costs

An estimate of your start-up costs is a necessary first step before moving forward. Some call these "sunk costs," which are the expenses you will incur to get your business up and to run.

RELATED: What Is A Sunk Cost?

Before launching a new business, you must have enough money in the bank to cover your startup costs. Start-up costs can include everything from renting a storage facility to creating a website and printing marketing materials.

An established budget helps you stay focused on your goals and ensures that you are making progress toward those goals.

Step #4: Design A Business Plan

Your business plan will probably be the most important document you ever write. It will include the results of your research on the market, your projections of costs, and your goals for your company's future.

If you want to obtain funding from outside sources for your company, you need to have a business plan that is credible, extremely detailed, and well-researched. It should incorporate all the following elements:

  • An overall summary that outlines your goals and the system you'll use to achieve them
  • An overview of your company's size, location, and ownership structure
  • A section devoted to your company's offerings
  • An overview of the market
  • An outline of your business's marketing and implementation strategy
  • An overview of the company's organizational structure and management philosophy
  • A comprehensive financial plan for the first few years of the company's existence

Remember that a solid business plan will help you make a case for a higher valuation.

Step #5: Prepare Your Marketing Strategy

elements of a marketing strategy

Developing a well-thought-out marketing strategy is the final piece of your business plan. Since every business is unique, finding the right marketing strategy requires both creativity and adaptability on your part.

In the early stages of your marketing plan, you should focus on the following areas:

  • Market Penetration: This refers to how your business will enter the market and make a place for itself.
  • Communications Strategy: This refers to how you'll talk directly to your customers. This could include things like sponsored ads, flyers, and other printed materials.
  • Growth Strategy: This refers to your plan for how your business will grow over time. This could include getting more storage units or hiring more people.

By making a plan, you can be sure you're reaching the right people with services that interest them. The more time you put into making a clear plan, the more chances you'll have to make sales.

Phase 2: Business Start-Up

Now that you've completed the planning stage of your business, it's time to start putting those plans into action.

Step #6: Find A Source of Funding

Starting a new business requires outside funding to help you get it off the ground and cover your startup expenses. Financial institutions need a detailed business plan and financial information before considering your funding request.

You'll be expected to write about and be ready to answer questions about the following:

  • What are your funding needs, and how much money do you have available?
  • What are your projected financial needs over the next five years?
  • How will you put the money to use, and what specific capital expenditures or other costs do you have in mind?
  • Do you have long-term financial goals, like selling your company or paying off your debts?

Getting off the ground can be challenging for new businesses but keeping them on track is even more difficult. You will need a well-crafted business plan and all the necessary documents to get funding.

Step #7: Secure Your Business Location and Storage Units

To run a successful self-storage business, you'll need a location where your customers can keep their belongings.

Look for a location with a lot of traffic and proper business development zoning. You may want to consider these two options:

  • You can construct your storage units on land you own and have the right to use.
  • You can purchase storage units directly from companies that design, build, and deliver a wide range of unit types and sizes.

Wise location decisions can significantly boost a company's long-term performance. Poor ones can cost tens of thousands, if not millions, of dollars in lost talent, productivity, and capital.

Step #8: Comply With All Tax And Legal Requirements

lawyer consultation

If you own a small company, you are responsible for ensuring that it is correctly registered and complies with all applicable tax and legal regulations.

So, before you go any further, look into licenses issued by the federal government and individual states.  

An organization like the United States Small Business Administration (SBA) can help you figure out how to deal with all the paperwork that comes with starting a new business.

Hiring a lawyer specializing in the laws and regulations that apply to small businesses would also be best to ensure that everything is taken care of properly.

Step #9: Develop Your Brand to Create a Strong Online Presence

People evaluate a company based on its online presence. This is why businesses of all sizes devote time and resources to building their brands.

The same is true for your self-store company—it needs branding.

Building your company's brand is about making a solid first impression on potential clients and customers.  

From your logo and color scheme for your website to the content you create, you can create a brand image, personality, and message that connects with your customers.

RELATED: 6 Reasons Branding Brings So Much Value to Your Startup

After developing your company's brand, it's time to establish your online presence.

The ease of finding a company or brand online indicates its online presence.  

There are countless ways to establish your online presence, but the first step is to create your website.

Your website is essential, but it does not have to be overly complicated for a self-storage company. Remember that this type of business relies on finding a dependable, cost-effective, and simple-to-use website for its customers.

Step #10: Reach Out to Clients

Using SEO to promote busines

Once you've established a solid online presence, it's time to step up your marketing efforts and start interacting with potential customers directly. You can reach out to people in various ways, from direct mail and flyers to social media.

You can even try your hand at search engine optimization (SEO).

SEO is the process of getting traffic from search engine results. Its goal is to help your website rank higher in search results. Trust us when we say self-storage SEO is the most effective way to increase your online visibility!

RELATED: SEO for Self-Storage Websites

When you're in the self-storage business, you can count on self-storage SEO to bring you most of your inquiries and customers.

Are You Ready To Grow Your Self-Storage Business?

The build-up to launching your business is always exciting. Why?

Many entrepreneurs have told us that setting sail into the unknown excites them; they have so much control during the planning stages, but once a business is out in the world, you are now in completely uncharted territory.

That may not be the most comforting thought, but if you need a partner to help you grow your business, we can help.

At Digital Resource, our self-storage SEO experts will increase your company's online presence and get you booked all year round.

Contact us today to find out how we've assisted other businesses in converting online leads into sales and how we can do the same for you.

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