What Office Supplies Do You Really Need?

Office supplies are as critical a part of running a successful and efficient home office as anything else. There are certain essentials items that you should ensure your home office is never without.

The humble stapler. Nothing worse than being caught without one. The only tip you need for buying a high quality stapler is don't get cheap when buying [an error occurred while processing this directive] one. Avoid the grocery store type. They're fine if you need to staple 1 or 2 sheets of paper but anything more intense than that and using a small stapler becomes a lesson in heartbreak and frustration.

Purchase a stapler that can handle 20 - 30 sheets of paper. This will mean purchasing a "heavy duty" stapler which might seem like overkill. The bigger, sturdier staplers only cost a few dollars more believe it or not. This added to the fact that your stapler will last 5 times longer than the cheap models is reason enough to buy a quality stapler in the beginning.

Paper Punch
Do you need a paper punch? Well it depends. Do you intend doing filing of any type? Very few businesses can operate without filing documents at some stage so a paper punch again is a basic office essential.

Avoid the small paper punches. They buckle and warp when you try to punch any more than a few sheets of paper. Purchase a punch that's capable of piecing 10 - 15 sheets of paper without breaking a swat - or the paper punch itself. Don't cut corners when buying your office consumables. It's false economy of the worst kind.

Comb binder
Bought an ebook lately? Eyes sore from trying to read them on your computer screen? Solve this problem by simply printing them out and comb binding them to read at your convenience. It makes them far easier to read and you make notes on them as you go along.

Not an ebook person? That's ok. When are you next going to be putting together a business proposal, brochure or other important document. Why not add that extra touch of class to them by comb binding the documents beforehand.

A basic binder can be purchased online at huge discount over standard office retailers. Before purchasing your comb binder do as much research as you can on the cost of replacement supplies for the binder itself.

Ink & Toner
Picture the scenario. You're smack dab in the middle of printing out a series of important documents. Perhaps even a business plan to present for a bank loan. Pages 1 to 9 print out fine and then on page 10 your printer stops and starts flashing. No more ink or toner. Frustrated and annoyed? Utterly furious?

I'm not ashamed to say that my trusty HP Desjket 970cxi almost left my house via a window after one such incident.

Always keep a set of spare cartridges or refills in your home or office to prevent the above from happening to you. Much cheaper to buy spare ink cartridges than to have to pick up the pieces of the printer that was thrown out your office window just minutes beforehand.

When buying ink or toner you have two basic choices:

OEM Consumables (Original Equipment Manufacturer)
They're produced by the manufacturer so the quality of the ink cartridges or toner is assured. They will also of course carry the huge profit margin that manufacturers expect and desire. Using inkjet cartridges or toner cartridges produced by the original equipment manufacturer will generally serve you well as long as you have deep pockets

Refills and remanufactured cartridges
It's cheaper to fill a swimming pool with champagne than inkjet ink from companies like Epson or HP. The expensive nature of OEM cartridges has led to a boom for third party companies marketing inkjet refill kits

Horror stories abound on the Internet about warranties being voided because somebody somewhere used an ink refill kit. This is hogwash. It's illegal for any inkjet company to void your warranty for using a third party consumable. Several such claims have been thrown out of court in favour of the customer and not the inkjet company.

Are there good reasons for using refills and remanufactured ink and toner products? How about the fact they're 25% - 80% cheaper than the OEM products and offer comparable output results as their more expensive competitors?

Whatever your choice of cartridge or toner keep some spares handy. You'll thank yourself one day soon.

Copy Paper
The Internet and computers were meant to bring the age of the paperless office into being. We all know that didn't happen unfortunately.

Offices still consume vast amounts of paper. The need for it was never replaced by any electronic device because, as much as we all hate to admit it, we like holding paper documents. It's the way of the world.

There are two basic types of copy paper that most offices will need:

The generic multipurpose copy paper is best used for documents that you might be researching or working on but may ultimately dispose of. The most common weight for this type of paper is 70gsm. The higher the gsm number the thicker and heavier the paper will be.

The heavy duty copy paper is used for serious printing. You'd be amazed at the drastic improvement in print quality you can get for spending an extra $5.

Using heavier paper gives you more crisp text and graphics and much more vibrant color. When purchasing heavy duty copy paper always aim for at least 90gsm and sometimes even 100gsm - depending on what the task requires.

Business Cards
Depending on the type of business you want to run you may or may not need business cards. Most people would prefer to have a business card of some kind to present when asked for one. Owning a nice business card is not the route to business success but it does provide a definite feel good factor.

Keep your business cards simple. Classic white card with black text is still as effective as ever. Don't make the mistake of going for fancy designs - they rarely impress. A business card is just a reminder to your clients of who you are - not a statement of your artistic abilities - unless of course you are actually an artist selling art.

There's some great online office supply companies out there - you should check them out when you get a chance.

The Paperless Office
Has the paperless office become a reality or are we still buried underneath piles of A4? Read our article and find out.