Running your own business provides the type of freedom that many people spend years dreaming of. And if it is a home-based enterprise, you have the added bonus that costs and overheads are kept to a minimum. It all sounds great, until you look at the bank statement at the end of the month and ask yourself just where all that money is going.
The problem is that whether it is in a traditional corporate environment or a room at the back of your home, an office soaks up money in consumables. Generally, it is more in the form of small drips than major floods. However, that is only the more dangerous, as those expenditures are harder to spot, yet they can still add up to a significant dent in your bottom line.
If you’re scratching your head as to how you’re managing to spend so much on office supplies, here are some areas to look at that might just alleviate the problem.
An office gets through lots of paper. That might come as a surprise in this largely online world, but it is true, and it goes to show that we are not quite as paper-free as you might think. In part, however, our use of paper is down to habit rather than necessity. Some people still prefer to read a hard copy of a document, as opposed to simply viewing it on a screen.
If that’s because they want to make ink annotations, fair enough, but if it really is simply to print it, read it then throw it in the recycling, it is a habit that you should encourage them to break. Also, adopt a policy of printing double sided, or of placing waste sheets face down in the printer feed so that they can be reused.
Reduce the amount of printing, and you won’t just save paper, you’ll also use less ink. It is one of life’s ironies that while today’s printers are incredibly cheap, their consumables can still cost a fortune, especially if you buy direct from the manufacturer. It is both cheaper and easier to buy Canon ink from third parties, and they typically stock cartridges for other major manufacturers such as HP, Epson and Xerox, too.
A basic fact of life is that you can never find a pen when you need one, and this is particularly the case when you operate a business. You can order pens, staplers and so on in bulk, but the problem is that if you employ staff, they can start to assume there is a magical and inexhaustible supply. The result? A few weeks later, you are having to order more.
You don’t want to make a mountain out of a molehill and start rationing out paperclips, but if you choose wisely and give one person the responsibility for stocking, distributing and reordering stationery, there is a 100 percent guarantee that people will take better care of it, and what was lasting only six weeks will suddenly keep you going for six months!