Wondering how to start a warehouse business? We take you step-by-step from start to success.
The 21st Century Warehouse Industry
The warehouse industry has come a long way from the days when an entrepreneur could simply lease space to local business owners. In today's business environment, warehousing has become a highly sophisticated industry that relies as much on technology as it does on square footage.
As an emerging warehouse business owner, it's essential to educate yourself about the services and processes that dominate the industry. Logistics, inventory control, crossdocking and other services are all part of what it takes to operate a profitable warehouse operation in the 21st century.
Warehouse Business Startup & Expansion Opportunities
Most entrepreneurs lack the capital to launch a technology-driven, multi-city warehouse operation with millions in assets. Fortunately, it's possible to start small and gradually expand your reach.
A single owned or leased warehouse space is enough to get your business off the ground. Combined with forklifts, storage equipment, inventory tracking software and a vibrant front office, you can begin to solicit warehouse contracts from local businesses and possibly even consumers interested in temporarily storing their personal property.
As you grow, there are many ways to expand your operation. Refrigerated storage, multiple sites, logistics, pack-and-ship order fulfillment and other warehouse-related activities are all legitimate expansion opportunities.
But from the moment you launch your warehouse operation, it's important to create a strategy for growth and expansion. To be successful, your expansion into new business areas will need to be intelligent and strategic, leveraging your warehouse company's core competencies as well as gaps in the marketplace.
As a result, strategic planning is a must for every entrepreneur interested in starting a warehouse business -- even if you are launching a very basic warehouse operation.
Business Plans 101 for Warehouse Business Startups
Startup entrepreneurs slave over the creation of their business plans, investing countless hours in the details of their startup strategy. But your business plan won't be finished until you've included material about your industry.
Industry analyses are standard chapters in warehouse company business plans and are often required by lenders or investors. Industry analyses are critical for contextualizing your startup within an industry setting.
To succeed, you'll need to be careful to avoid common industry analysis mistakes and to accurately represent your startup in an industry context.
Review the Competition
Prior to opening a warehouse business in your area, it's worthwhile to find out how many competitors you have. Use the link below to generate a list of competitors in your area. Complete the form by entering your city, state and zip code to get a list of warehouse businesses that are close by.
Gain a knowledge of how existing firms have positioned themselves in the marketplace, and then design your business in a way that sets you apart from the others.
Getting Advice from Experienced Entrepreneurs
If you want to open a warehouse business be sure to speak with somebody who is already in the business. It's very unlikely that the local competition will talk to you. It'd be crazy for them to teach you the business.
However, an entrepreneur who owns a warehouse business outside of your community may be willing to share their entrepreneurial wisdom with you, after they realize you reside far away from them and won't be stealing their local customers. Many business owners are happy to give advice to new entrepreneurs. Our estimate is that you may have to contact many business owners to find one who is willing to share his wisdom with you.
So, what can you do to find an entrepreneur who is running a warehouse business who is willing to advise you because you live in different cities?
No problem! Just use the link below and try a random city/state or zipcode. Then start dialing for advice until you are successful.
Gaining Access to Warehouse Business Ownership
Common sense will tell you that to enter the world of warehouse business, you'll either need to start a new business or acquire a promising company on the business-for-sale marketplace. But despite the attraction startups have for many entrepreneurs, you should also consider the benefits of buying a warehouse business.
If you're on the fence consider this: There has never been a better time to acquire a warehouse business. The down economy has resulted in a glut of available businesses, many of which can be acquired for bargain prices.
Is Franchising the Right Option?
Your odds of becoming a successful entrepreneur immediately improve if you purchase a franchise instead of doing it all on your own.
Before starting a warehouse business, it's worthwhile to assess whether there are good franchise opportunities available that might make it easy to get started.
The link below gives you access to our franchise directory so you can see if there's a franchise opportunity for you. You might even find something that points you in a completely different direction.
Useful Associations for Warehouse Entrepreneurs
If you want to start a warehousing business, you should connect with the International Warehouse Logistics Association. They can provide useful startup resources to you.
These additional resources regarding starting a business may be of interest to you.
If you sell to warehouse businesses, we've got better information for you elsewhere on our site. These resources are more appropriate for you:
If you are interested in starting a different kind of business, please browse our directory of guides below.