How much to spend on stationery as a small business?

“Small business” doesn’t really mean its expenditure is small.  Unsurprisingly, this is linked to your business size. A small business is likely to lack the scale.

If you are running a start-up, you’ll recognise the challenge of controlling your costs having not yet established any revenue or customers.  It is at that early stage you need to keep a grip of all your spending.  Besides the cost of space, furniture, utilities, technology etc one hidden cost you will have is your office supplies and that will take a considerable part off of your revenue if overlooked.

However you would like to focus on key strategic activities instead of low-level tasks for your own business.  But small businesses already signals that they spend more time buying stationery than doing marketing as shown in Pitney Bowes‘ research.

Employees working from home also spend also extra for their home office. You may be able to get this reimbursed as long as it is in line with your company’s procurement and HR policy.  More and more corporates support working from home and it’s not only to offer a work life balance to their employees but also save costs, on their rent as well as office consumables including stationery. Ask for company policy, and whether you can get the same deals from your company’s supplier of stationery if you have an arrangement to work from home.

What is the amount we are talking about for a small business?  In the UK, a small business spend on average £870 per year on stationery.  An office with 1-4 people can spend up to 84% more than an office with 40 employees, efficiency is only achieved by scale suggests.  However there are still things to do until you get that scale!

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5 top tips for a good practice on controlling your stationery cost in your home office:

  1. Estimate ahead what you are likely to use based on the size and type of your business
  2. Define what value you need from your stationery and create a shopping list of planned purchase, avoid impulse purchase
  3. Look for deals and bulk purchases online, thinking of going directly also to suppliers. A survey run by Axa Business Insurance shows that over a quarter of small businesses in the UK don’t receive discounts from their suppliers.  Why not?  Ask also if your local store of office supplies has deals for repeat purchase.
  4. Visually control your stationery stock, even if a small drawer, create a space for them and keep an eye on.
  5. Make sure you get the value you need from the products, i.e. feedback your supplier and move to another if your expectations are not met.  Your cost of change is much less than your supplier’s cost of losing you in their crowded industry.

There are lots of deals and stores who will fulfil demand for commodity office supplies.  However if you describe the value of these products differently and looking for designs that inspire, motivate, instil pride and signal quality in your new venture, you will usually be asked for a lot more money.

Without considering the premium  brands such as Moleskine or Smythson, or inexpensive notebooks sold by grocery retailers,  the price difference could get to twice as muchen in the middle range:

200 Pages Pukka Pad £2.99 (Staples) versus No Probllama A4 slim ruled notebook £6.00 (Paperchase)
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Brass paper clip £9.00 (Smug) versus Nicket paper clips £3.49 (Staples).


Working from home or starting your own business can be solitary, messy, laced with doubt and your selection of stationery should not be an extra burden.  However make sure your home office supplies still inspire you, motivate you, and bring a touch to your day at home office. Be proud of your stationery you use!

Let us know if you have any recommendation for inspirational and good quality stationery at an affordable price you have found for your own business.  Please enter your thoughts below in the comment box.

Our suggestion for a practical and professional notebook for your meetings is Rhodia Active Meeting notebook.  We have found it helps gathering your notes, draw out actions and organise by topic or date. Easy to write on with smooth look and feel. Click the image below to check online: