It's one thing to play around with your sofa and coffee table at home; it's another to figure out where the copy machine should go and whether or not you have enough office space. Keep function first when planning your business floor plan, and take advantage of the free floor planning software available to visualize how things will flow before you actually move a single filing cabinet.
Make a list of what your business needs to house and the various functions it must serve. For retail businesses, you'll need to accommodate not only your retail space and counter area, but also have a space to store inventory and take care of office work. Non-retail businesses may need to accommodate multiple offices as well as storage space, copy room, shipping area, or other specialized areas.
Measure your floor space. If you can obtain blueprints for the location, you can use those measurements. Otherwise, simply walk out the perimeter of your business with a tape measure.
Measure the furniture and other large pieces that will go in from your list in Step 1. It's not necessary to measure everything, especially not the smaller items, such as office chairs. However, for larger elements of your business, such as large filing cabinets, storage units, desks, and copy machines, you need to know exactly how much space they will take up.
Set up an online floor planning software. There are several free options which you can download and install on your own computer. See the Resources box below for links.
Think about the customer's point of view. First impressions matter, so be sure that the first view any customer gets when walking through your business doors will create a positive impression. Keep the customer area streamlined and uncluttered.
Keep like things together. Make it easier on yourself by keeping all the supplies in one area, all the shipping operations in one area, all the offices in one area, and all the retail space in one area. Organization will make it easy to locate what you need, when you need it, and it will help your day-to-day operations go smoother.