When running a small business from home, chances are you have little money available to invest in equipment and supplies. What most business owners fail to consider is how office equipment and supplies can snowball if you don’t plan ahead. Compared to buying supplies for a corporation, purchasing office equipment for a home office may seem like a minor expense. The significant difference is that corporations have big budgets for buying furniture and equipment.
If you decided to set up a home office, and you need equipment to run your day-to-day operations, the following guidelines can help you decide. Buying an item that doesn’t meet your budget, or one that isn’t fit for the job can cause your small venture to bleed money.
Let’s learn how to save money when browsing for office supplies.
Track inventory and make a list of what you need to buy
Buying around without first checking your inventory and making a list of supplies you need won’t help you save money. Before you browse the internet for laptops, printers, air purifiers or staplers take a look at what you already have and make a list of things you need for the next month, six months and years.
What items are vital for your business operations? What items are almost out of stock and which supplies cannot wait?
If you’re shopping to stock a new office, be conservative, it’s easier to add extra items later. Stick with the essentials for now.
Compare offers before you buy
Once you have a list of items you need for your home office, do your homework and compare prices on items. You don’t have to leave your house to physically visit the stores because most have a website you can browse to check the offers. You can do all your office supply purchasing from the comfort of your house.
When you don’t work with an established supplier, you can look around and browse for the best quote. But be careful to check the shipping cost when you buy online because buying items from offshore providers can come with pricey transport fees. However, most suppliers have free shipping if you order a minimum amount of items.
Look for discounts and specials
For expensive items like desks, laptops, ergonomic chairs, and air purifiers double check to see if some providers are running sales or specials. Getting a coupon to save $20 for every item you purchase may not sound much, but when the savings add up, you make enough to buy pizza for the Friday movie night you planned for your family. Good morale improves productivity, and if there’s any way to boost yours, you should do it.
If you have established a partnership with a provider, use the connection to ask if they have discounts for loyal clients, especially if you plan to purchase some items in bulk.
Also, it’s a great idea to sign up for emails from retailers that offer office equipment and supplies. Register on coupon sites for coupon codes to save money when you buy online. These resources are customer-focused and can match you with discounts for electronics and other pieces of office equipment.
Order in bulk
Most office supplies and equipment can be purchased in bulk. If you print bills, instead of buying 500 sheet packs, buy 5000 packs. The drawback is you pay more to buy a larger quantity, and you have to store the items, but the overall price is lower.
Don’t forget to compare price rates when you buy in bulk, because some stores undercut the prices for some items and charge more for others to make up the profit. They’re convinced that once you notice a smaller amount for pencils (let’s say pencils), you won’t check if the price for pens is also lower than the one their competitors offer, and you’ll order all items on your list from the same source.
Consider buying items in bulk from warehouses because they have lower charges for most products. Set up an account with your local supplier because most companies provide you with a statement of your last orders so you can check the list and compare the fees. Also, some brands offer discounts to their loyal clients because of the volume of products they purchase.
Sign up for business memberships at stores
In addition to competitive quotes on office supplies and equipment, some stores also offer their business members unique benefits. Being a member of their exclusive club can bring you lower prices for daily supplies, and can help you operate your company more straightforward. Some stores and warehouses offer their loyal business clients, cash-back credit cards, access to low-cost loans, and other financial services that allow them to save money in the long run.
Establishing a corporate account with your regular provider also allows you to track the supplies and equipment you purchase the most and use the data to find solutions to lower the use and cut expenses. You can also track purchases through your corporate accounts to prevent supply theft.
Don’t wait until you run out
Buying something at the last minute is not only stressful; it’s also pricey. Impulse purchases bleed your budget dry the most because you pick the first product without determining if it comes at a reasonable price.
When you work from home and try to reduce the resources you’re using, you can find yourself high and dry between some deliveries, especially when you work with an offshore provider. When you notice the supply is running low, it’s smart to reduce the amount you’re using and plan out an emergency resupply before you run out of the particular item.
If you run an emergency resupply, check the entire inventory to identify if there are other items you’re low on and save yourself from shipping costs. To prevent impulse buying, make a monthly list of supplies and equipment you need, one similar to the grocery list. If you know what you need ahead, you can plan purchases and compare price offers to prevent getting sucked in.