Some challenges of running a business are universal. And while it’s not always what entrepreneurial minds gravitate to, stocking your business with the right supplies is an important consideration that can’t be ignored. Supply needs are often specific to the type of business you run, the number of people in your office and the features included on your office’s premises. You have to consider all of these factors when deciding what supplies to purchase.
Because supply costs can add up quickly — particularly over a long period of time — most small businesses are very deliberate in making these purchases. If you want to make sure you stock up on supplies in the most cost-effective way possible, use this list to cover your bases.
Everyone in your business will need access to office supplies of some kind. These comprise some of the most basic items you’ll want to have on hand when running your business. Essential office supplies include pens, paper, printers, printer ink, labels, notepaper, staplers, paper clips, folders, dry erase markers and so on. You might also want to include computers, phones, copy machines, dry erase boards and other larger items until the umbrella of “office supplies.”
Poor hygiene can open a window of opportunity for bacteria and other germs. Each bathroom and kitchen area in your office needs to be equipped with some essential products. These include soap dispensers, antibacterial gels and lotions, toilet paper, paper towels, disinfectant cleaning wipes and disinfectant sprays. You might also consider outfitting each bathroom with toilet seat covers, paper towel dispensers and a plunger.
And don’t forget about toilet cleaners, mops and other cleaning sprays to take care of janitorial duties.
Most businesses at least occasionally have to ship various items, whether for clients, vendors or other entities. You can save on shipping costs by having these stocked and readily available in your office — invest in boxes, mailing labels, tape, postage scales and other packing materials. These supplies are even more important if you do a large percentage of your business through online sales.
The operational supplies you’ll need can be affected greatly by the type of business. A restaurant, for example, will need vastly different supplies and equipment than a lumberyard. Outfitting yourself with the right supplies will require some familiarity with your industry, and you’ll want to plan for these expenses well in advance.
Because of the significant variance in how much these can cost, they will likely figure in to your business plan and could influence the amount of money you end up being loaned to start your business. Be cautious when planning for the expenses and budget for more costs than you think you’ll need, and start seeking out these supplies early to get them under your wings — and maybe even at a great value.
In the end, supplies can deliver a hefty bill that catches some business management by surprise. But unlike other aspects of business operations, supplies are a tough expense to cut corners on — doing so could drastically reduce the quality of your product and/or service, and maybe even put you in violation of business safety and health codes. Do your due diligence to find out what expenses you will need and build a budget that comfortably accounts for them. If you do, you won’t feel squeezed when the supply room runs out of toilet paper.