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Boost Your Bottom Line By Cutting Down on Supply Expenses

Supply Expenses Quickly Add Up

Office supplies are a recurring expense for most small businesses. Whether you are operating as a sole proprietor or managing a small office, you need to periodically restock basic supplies, including paper, pens, light bulbs, and hardware.

These expenses can quickly add up. But every business owner can reduce expenses and boost their bottom line with foresight, common sense, and the help of some simple tools.

Three Tips for Cutting Costs

1 – Buy in Bulk: Office supply stores typically offer substantial discounts to customers who buy in bulk. So why not buy enough ink, paper, pens, disks, etc. to last six months or a year? Make sure you get a number of bids from a variety of retailers: national chains, local stores, and online vendors. After all, competition makes the world go round, and it helps your business slash expenses.

If you are planning to buy in bulk, then you will want to run a thorough inventory assessment before you swipe your card. Buying in bulk can save you precious dollars in the long run, but remember that supplies in a storage closet are the same as hard cash gathering dust in a vault.

If your business can find a better use for the money (an investment that might generate fast returns, for instance), then you might end up regretting your purchases.

2 – Use the Internet: There are literally thousands of office supply stores online that cater to small businesses. Imagine if your local Kinko’s had to compete with hundreds of independent stores selling high-quality products at competitive prices.

When businesses compete, you win, so take advantage of the virtual marketplace and find an outlet that is willing to go above and beyond for your business. If you already have a relationship with a major retailer like Office Depot or Staples, then you should consider setting up a virtual account to purchase goods directly, and have them delivered to your door.

3 – Centralize Your Inventory: Corral all of your office supplies in a central location where they can be easily located and efficiently monitored. When supplies are spread around (some at home, some at the office, some in a storage locker), employees waste time and energy tracking down essential items, and your business ties up vital capital in excess inventory.

If you don’t have an inventory management system in place, then you will benefit from being able to immediately “visualize” your stock.


Marshall Walker Lee graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of Michigan's Honors College with degrees in Writing and Philosophy. As a freelance writer and designer he has developed branding strategies and programming for J. Walter Thompson, Nike, the Kellogg Foundation, Spike TV, Sony Films, and General Motors. He is the co-founder and director of Poor Claudia, a 501(c)3 non-profit publishing enterprise based in Portland, Oregon.