Perhaps the only benefit of the recession is that it’s given more people the impetus to become their own bosses. If your inner entrepreneur has come out of the closet, you’ve likely found it takes a major investment of cash.
Even if venture capitalists have got your back, it pays to cut back in on the small things, so you can focus financially on higher priorities. Office supplies are one expenditure on which you can easily save money. Read on for nine tips to reduce the impact on your business budget.
When shopping for a printer, consider all-in-one devices to avoid the additional cost of scanners, fax machines and memory-card readers. If you’re not sure where to start, check out the “Top 10 Best Printers” from PC Magazine and be sure to comparison shop both online and offline. Keep in mind that you may be able to do without a printer entirely since emails, documents and even airline tickets can now be accessed digitally via a tablet or smartphone.
2. Ink Cartridges
Though the price of the printer you found may be reasonable, the ink cartridges for that device may offset the initial savings. The average markup is a whopping 1,000 to 2,000 percent! The most important rule for saving on ink is to avoid your local office supply store and shop online. The upcoming launch of InkjetWilly.com will help you navigate ink prices and deals, saving you up to 90 percent over store prices on brands like HP, Canon, Xerox and many more. You may also consider generic brands sold for a considerable discount from stores like Staples.
3. Dollar-store Buys
Avoid the big boys and head to your local dollar store for small basics like pens, pencils, memo pads, envelopes, etc. This is also a great place to find thank you notes and gift wrap that will give your marketing a personal touch. Stay away from batteries, electronics, power strips and extension cords, however, since these cheaply-made products may actually damage your other equipment.
4. Warehouse Stores
You can save big time with bulk purchases of paper and other supplies at warehouse stores. Keep in mind that these cost-cutting caverns also offer good prices on shredders, office chairs, desks and other furniture, so scope out the deals when furnishing your office.
5. Marketing Supplies
Paper products like stationery and business cards can eat into your pocketbook, but they’re an absolute necessity. Use e-retailers like VistaPrint for seriously inexpensive versions of these branded supplies. They also offer savings on things like personalized magnets, invitations and more.
Membership has its privileges, including office supply stores that have clubs promising benefits and savings on a variety of products and services. Sign up to receive monthly specials and coupons delivered direct to your inbox or mailbox.
7. Build Your Own
Office furniture, especially desks, can be wildly expensive. I found that great deals on quality pieces from stores like Ikea which sell desks, book shelves and cabinets. The catch for the low price is that you have to build it yourself. Not handy? Recruit a neighbor or friend to help out in exchange for lunch.
8. Buy Used
Check Craigslist, your local Goodwill store or simply hit garage sales for great prices on used equipment, furniture, file cabinets and more. You can also find great deals at ArnoldsOfficeFurniture.com, which sells preowned, quality desks, chairs, and conference tables. If necessary, you can always upgrade later when the business really takes off.
9. Online Alternatives
When it comes to software and Internet services, there are tons of options available for writing, editing, file backup, group meetings, video conferencing and so on. Look for free alternatives like Polkast, which allows users to share files among several devices — like laptops, tablets and smartphones — so important documents are always accessible. Skype is another free service for voice or video calls among friends, family and business partners. Finally, CutePDF converts documents into PDF files for no cost.
Andrea Woroch is a nationally-recognized consumer and money-saving expert who helps consumers live on less without radically changing their lifestyles. From smart spending tips to personal finance advice, Andrea transforms everyday consumers into savvy shoppers. She has been featured among top news outlets such as Good Morning America, NBC’s Today, MSNBC, New York Times, Kiplinger Personal Finance, CNNMoney and many more. You can follow her on Twitter for daily savings advice and tips.