What would the perfect workspace look like for you? How much work would it take to find this space and to set it up?
The answer to these questions is widely different depending on one other question. Do you deal with physical goods?
This divide between businesses that can be run from a desk vs. those that need warehouse has driven a stark inequality in workspace. If you sell software or services, you can easily find creative spaces in the most desirable locations, replete with barista quality lattes and bespoke interior design. The second you need a warehouse, even the basics of human comfort become “nice to haves”. Forget micro roast coffee, most warehouses don’t have air conditioning or security when working at night.
The result is that concrete class businesses are forced to spend enormous effort on hacking together a space that works. After searching across the metro area for an appropriate space (there aren’t many below 10,000 square feet with loading docks), these entrepreneurs then have to set up fans and space heaters, wireless internet, a security system, commercial freight pickups, and waste disposal. And after all of this, they can still need office space for their corporate functions and hosting clients.
All of this setup cost is made worse by all of the long term commitments required. It is rare to find warehouse space that will allow for lease terms of under a year - most actually require multiple years. Even if you negotiate your rental lease down, the wireless internet company and the security company all want long term commitments. Concrete class businesses often see their square footage needed scale with their sales, and making all of these long term commitments to a space that you will outgrow in a year is problematic in itself. Then there’s the darker outcome of being caught with liabilities if your business ceases to continue.
This problem of lack of functional and habitable industrial workspace is large and growing. eCommerce is a huge industry, $560B in the US alone in 2019, and is growing 10% every year. And eCommerce is just the tip of the iceberg. The world of businesses that deal in physical goods is significantly larger than just eCommerce, and includes manufacturing, construction, equipment rental, and any business that cannot be run from a desk. The entrepreneurs in this world are having significant impact, and deserve workspaces that empower them.
At Saltbox, we are not just trying to bridge this gap of landlords selling “good enough” spaces on long term commitments, we are trying to turn the situation on its head. Where most other warehouses provide the bare minimum that gets you to sign the lease, we want to create the most empowering environment possible for physical good entrepreneurs, and provide it all with flexible, month to month leases.
It starts with the basics. Comfort and functionality are out of the box and included in one price. Our warehouses have AC, heating, and wireless internet. The building has enterprise grade security, and there are commercial freight pickups from USPS, UPS, and Fedex every day. There are loading docks and pallet disposal, and a range of square footage to fit your needs today. Your business could move-in, and fulfill an order the next day.
But as mentioned before, Saltbox goes further than the basics. Whenever there are shared problems among physical good entrepreneurs, we seek to solve it for everyone. For example, we know that businesses can face spiky demand in labor requirements, whether it is decanting a large incoming shipment or fulfilling an order, so Saltbox spaces offer a flexible labor pool that can be hired hourly when you need ready hands in a pinch. We also know that often entrepreneurs might have to make an ad-hoc local delivery, such as to a promotional event or a one-off rush order to the airport. To help out, Saltbox membership includes use of a shared cargo van, and all we ask is that you pay for gas and insurance. This is just the beginning of how we at Saltbox will provide opportunities to enhance the space and offerings for all members.
The last and most important way in which we are creating the perfect workspace is community. A sad effect of warehouse space being sparsely scattered on the edge of town is that there is no natural interaction between physical good entrepreneurs. There are massive benefits from working alongside a community of like-minded businesses. At a transactional level, when you face a problem in marketing, logistics, or operations, it’s likely that someone in the community will have knowledge and experience that you can learn from. But at a human level, there is comfort in sharing a morning coffee or water cooler conversation with someone who understands and empathizes with the type of problems you’re facing. At Saltbox, you can learn and grow together with a set of neighbors like no other.
If this post resonates with you, get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and if you are in Atlanta, come by for a tour. We are always looking for feedback and would love to show how our combination of flexibility, function, and community can help your physical good business.