Preparing for your shop fitout

Work out a budget

Starting up a business can be costly, even if you are getting the space for free or for a nominal fee. Work out what you need to buy to set up your space and what you can afford to spend.

Accessing the empty shop Renovating and cleaning your space

Running a business doesn't mean you can put your life on hold or abandon your family and friends. So why not enlist their help in renovating your shop?

This was Dawn Allen's strategy. Dawn was thrilled to get the opportunity to open the Honeydew Gallery in an empty shop - even though it was run-down and occupied by pigeons and squatters.

While Dawn's friends lent a hand with the plastering and cleaning, their three children also helped out by removing old screws from the walls.

But some jobs are best done by the professionals, so be prepared to hire a company that offers shop fitout services if you can afford it. Alternatively, perhaps a friend knows someone in the business who will help you at a discounted fee or a 'contra' - that is, you trade skills. You can find people willing to do this on websites such as Freecycle.

Cleaning upIt's important to think about lighting, although as Dawn points out, this comes down to budget.  "We didn't get too sophisticated with our lighting: we couldn't afford to," she says. "Our shop space has fluroescent tube lighting which flattens everything, but does make for a bright space.  To add some accent we put to use some small spot desk lamps aimed onto artwork from the floor or a nearby shelf.  In our windows we have floor standing paper lamps - $15 each from IKEA - which have been very successful in attracting attention of passers-by.  

"We get a number of people commenting about having seen the windows during the evening and coming back to see inside. We've even had offers from customers to buy the lamps. My advice would be to work within your budget. There are simple things that attract attention that are cost effective. When the budget allows, we would like to introduce some tracking and movable spots to focus on individual artworks."

Painting the floorPaint can make a world of difference

Giving a space a thorough clean will certainly spruce it up, but a coat of paint can take it to the next level - as Dawn found when she was advised by a cleaning contractor who had come to quote for cleaning their wooden floor.

"After a very quick appraisal she diplomatically asked if we'd thought about painting it!  We had priced paint and simply didn't have the budget for it.  A couple of hours later a call came telling us a tin of paint had been donated to our project if we would like it.

"So, we hung up our Allen keys for the day and after spending $11 on a painting kit at Wally's World of Discounts we got stuck into the floors. With every surface that's been painted we've seen a great transformation. The floor was no exception."