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How to: Manage Inventory

If you don't know what's in stock, there could be trouble in store.

This story appears in the August 1998 issue of Business Start-Ups magazine.

Ruth Kelsey's method of tracking inventory for her gift basket business, Brittany's Balloons and Gifts, used to be informal--to say the least. "I was going by sight," recalls the Lithonia, Georgia, entrepreneur. "Basically, I stored everything in my den and garage, and every so often I would count it all."

As Kelsey's business grew and expanded to include party decorations, her inventory system became inadequate. "I would think I had 20 baskets left, then I'd go to fill several orders and find I had only 14," she says. "That would put me in a pinch, especially in my busy seasons." Kelsey is in the process of computerizing her inventory, which she expects to give her a more accurate method of tracking.

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