Although you may not have been in the garden for many years, it might still be filled with tools and equipment. Did you know that the wooden shack at your garden’s bottom could be a source of extra income?
We were pleasantly surprised by the fascinating world of shed-working. You have many options to transform your shed into a profitable source of income.
The Shedworking Revolution: Some ideas for shed-based businesses
It may seem odd to use your shed for any other purpose than storage of gardening tools. Many people have made their sheds a productive workplace alternative. This is possible with whole websites!
Alex Johnson is the writer of The Independent’s Home Front property column. He also runs Shedworking.co.uk which provides a daily update for those who work in gardens offices and other spaces.
Johnson founded the site after moving to the UK with his growing family from Madrid in 2006.
“As we loved where we lived and didn’t want to leave. After looking at the tiny market for garden offices, I decided that this was the best way forward. It became apparent that there were likely to be others in the same boat after a few months. He explains that he started “The Shed” PDF magazine, and later the Shed-working website (which inspired the book).
Johnson’s website has been around for more than 10 years. Johnson’s first post was in October 2006. Since then, Johnson has covered all aspects of shed transformation and interviewed a variety of shed-workers around the world. He also published an inspiring illustrated book, Shed-working, The Alternative Workplace Revolution.
Contribution to GDP
Johnson’s most memorable article to date was however a 2010 post where he highlighted the fact that shed-workers make up a staggering PS6.1BN of the UK’s economy.
Johnson’s poll revealed some interesting statistics about shed-based businesses based on his findings.
In the last financial year, the average turnover for a shed-based business was PS76,449. An estimated 80,000 workers were based in outbuildings and garden sheds in the UK. More than half of shed-based companies (61.3%) are owned by sole traders. 32.3% employ 2-5 workers. 74% of the more than 500 shedworkers surveyed for the study said they intended to stay in their sheds indefinitely.
Seven years later shed-working is becoming more and more popular. Johnson has not been able to collect more statistics on shed-working, but there are reasons to believe it has a greater impact on the UK economy.
Johnson comments, “I believe we are returning to a more natural life with better work/life balance. More like the cottage industries that used to be the main way people worked. Not the mindless commuting we have become accustomed to over the past century.”
He believes that the frenzied lifestyle we have become accustomed will eventually slow down.
“Technology was basically used to get us into factories. The way technology has evolved now means that we no longer need to go to a central office. Johnson says that Johnson is not saying this all the time.
Consider shed-based businesses
These are some ideas for businesses that you could start from your shed.
Turn your backyard shed into a brewery and join the craft beer revolution. You can always buy this fully-kitted TigerSheds Brewery Shed.
You’re likely to know that creativity is enhanced when you have a creative environment. Your garden is the perfect setting. If this Guardian article is any indication, the idea of transforming sheds into studios is very popular among creatives.
It can be listed on Airbnb
People are constantly on the lookout for unique and interesting Airbnb listings, just like pop-up restaurants. You can give your shed a spring clean and then prepare it for guests. This would include installing a toilet, shower, and possibly a kitchenette. Learn how to save money and make your rental more affordable.
Urban chicken coop
First, it is not a good idea if you have neighbors living close to you. If you have a bigger garden and more space to sell eggs, it could be a lucrative venture.
For some tips on making your shed a coop, see our guide to keeping chickens.
You could use your shed as a location for photo shoots or film sets if it has character. You would need to have a lot more foot traffic in your garden and house. The money you make can be very worthwhile.
For more information, please see our guide on renting your house as a film location.
Are you thinking about working full-time from home? You could always use your shed to make your guest bedroom an office.
Dog grooming business
If you are a dog lover and have a large, secure garden where your dogs can run free and safe, this is a great idea. You will need water, a large basin or bath, and a table to dry, cut, and trim their coats.
Yoga studio & retreat
You don’t need to go far if you have always wanted to run your own wellness retreat. Your unique angle may be exclusivity, as you won’t be capable of accommodating too many people at once. This is where the main goal is to create an airy, inviting and serene space. You can add windows, heating and air conditioning to maintain a mild temperature throughout the year.
You can also make money using your shed for storage. Instead of storing your stuff in the shed, you can help others by keeping their stuff safe.
Learn more about renting storage space in your home to make money.
Here are some tips to transform your shed
You will need to invest a lot of money in transforming your shed before you can make any money.
These are just a few of the things you should be aware of:
You will need electricity, no matter what type of business you have. It’s best to hire professional help unless you are a certified electrician or have an affinity for these types of things. You don’t want power problems to disrupt your work, or worse, an accident to put a shadow on your new venture.
Heating/air-con installation is not necessary unless you are running a yoga studio. A heater in winter will suffice, while a fan in summer is sufficient.
An internet connection is essential for any business that relies on a desk. You might want to avoid distractions if you are trying to escape them all.
Tools for your trade
You will need to fully equip your shed to support your business. If you plan to use it as a base for your catering business, you will need a spacious, safe and clean kitchen. You will need a large table with good lighting, ample storage, and plenty of space to store your fabrics if you are designing and sewing wedding gowns.
It is a good idea to make a complete list of everything you need, then add in any extras. After you have completed the first, you can start to add items as you go.
Rules & regulations
Finally, if you’re going to be running any sort of retail/catering/food/beverage business from your home, you may need to check with your local authority about any zoning regulations. You will also need to adhere to health and safety regulations if you plan to work with food. To help you get started, the Food Standards Agency offers a complete start-up guide.
Study of a case:
Dawn Fry, from The Melting Pot, was on hand to answer our questions about her workshops in chocolate making.
Here’s what she had to share:
Could you briefly describe what you do at The Melting Pot
The Melting Pot offers workshops in chocolate-making to children, adults, and teams. It is a place where people can come and create their own delicious creations under my guidance. I have developed a business in a box that allows me to teach others how to run workshops right from their homes.
Before it was The Melting Pot’s home, what did your shed do? What size shed do you have?
This shed was our family’s den. Three children live with us, as well as a small terraced home. It was a large space that they could have fun with their friends or family when they were young. It was a place where children and adults could have fun. This tradition continues today. The shed measures 5m x6m. It was constructed entirely by Jo, a blacksmith by profession.
How did you transform your shed into an office?
I was inspired by the way that friends used their sheds to start businesses. I wanted to start a fun, flexible business. Because I love to cook, I knew that it had to be food-related. I also wanted to include people. I enjoy being able to meet people from all walks of life and knew that I wanted to be a chocolatier. I researched the various courses available and began planning my business while still working part-time. This was in early 2009. In June 2009, I was laid off from my job. My new business was not funded by a redundancy package, but I completed my training and launched it in September 2009. It was terrifying, but it has been one of the most rewarding things I have ever done. I have been able to take advantage of the incredible opportunities that chocolate has provided me. It was also flexible for me as a child, which is exactly what I wanted.
What was the time it took to complete the transformation? What were some of the major changes you had to make? Which was the most difficult?
In terms of making the shed usable for my business, the structure was already in place. To create storage space, we added a false wall to the shed’s main body. We added flooring, underfloor heating, mains water supply, and painted the shed. The hardest part was worrying about whether the investment would be worthwhile. It was during the recession that we didn’t have enough funds. It was a waste of precious resources to launch a new business idea that had not been tested!
What are you most proud of in your work space?
My work space is my home but it’s not home. It’s my personal space but it’s also shared with many others. It’s where we have fun and good times. It has a positive atmosphere and a peaceful feeling.
Would you recommend that other entrepreneurs RE-PURPOSE your shed to make it a workable space? If yes, then why?
My husband and I both believe it is a good idea to repurpose your shed if your business idea is viable. My success in chocolate workshops inspired him to offer courses.
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MoneyMagpie: How to make money with your shed