Getting the right office FURNITURE is part and parcel of setting up a business operation. That applies to simple home offices as well as large multi-city enterprises and everything in between. Here are several things you can do to ensure that you buy office furniture as ECONOMICALLY as possible.
KNOW WHAT YOU WANT
The first step is to PLAN your office. Write down your exact needs. Figure out what furniture you will need at the minimum. These are things which if absent will impair your ability to run the business. Here's the most important rule for buying office furniture economically -- everything other than the ESSENTIALS you identified above is an optional extra. You may decide to buy it or not depending on your budget. Buy only what you truly need.
PUT IT ON PAPER
Draw out a SKETCH of the office and where each piece of furniture will go. This is a vital step in cutting down waste as well as in planning your office properly. You may discover that the big, attractive desk you saw at the discount store will actually take up space that's needed for something else. This step will help your fine-tune your real NEEDS further. It will help you focus on the must-have furniture as opposed to the nice-to-have stuff.
Once you know what furniture you need, make a decision regarding whether you'll BUY it outright or LEASE it. If you are under a severe budget constraint, leasing may be an option to look at. You may pay more for the furniture over time, but it will be a smaller upfront outlay. You need to determine what your overriding financial concerns are -- cash flow or the final tally.
WHAT DOES IT DO FOR YOU?
FUNCTIONALITY rules over appearances. Sure, it's great if you can afford office furniture that looks terrific. But the main goal in running a business is being able to get your work done in an EFFICIENT manner. Sometimes, style and functionality go hand in hand -- sometimes, a sexy storage unit or fancy desk actually impedes your productivity because it lacks the practical features you need. And usually, the more attractive higher-end items cost a whole lot more. In general, it is better to plan your office space keeping functionality in mind rather than looks. You will likely save a lot of money that way.
LOOK AROUND YOU
Think about what you already HAVE. This applies more to a home office than to other types of offices. If you have a well-designed chair with good back support, for instance, you may be able to eliminate that item from your purchase list. If you have a bookcase in the garage that's not being use, confiscate it for your work area. Turn a coffee table into a credenza or a set of stacking crates into supply storage. There are many ways to RECYCLE existing furniture into something useful.
THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX
Get CREATIVE with your needs, particularly for home offices. Do you really need to buy a large desk? How about placing a board across two filing cabinets? That's one way you can instantly create a desk with storage space! How about SWAPPING furniture with a friend? If you have children's furniture you no longer need, maybe someone you know will be willing to trade them for storage units. Talk to your other business friends and see what kinds of deals you can make -- almost everyone has a piece in their office that doesn't work for them but which might suit your space beautifully. Get to bartering and you might be able to furnish your office for free!
GO FOR THE SECOND-HAND BARGAINS
Consider buying USED furniture. Where can you get it? Lots of places -- auctions, businesses closing shop, estate sales, government sales, classified ads, garage sales, used furniture shops and more. Good hotels redo their guest rooms every few years and may sell furniture at low prices. Businesses go out of business and must liquidate their assets -- and all the furniture has to go. One issue with buying used furniture from many of the sources mentioned above is that you may have to arrange TRANSPORTATION on your own. That can be a problem sometimes. Nevertheless, buying used furniture is one of the best ways of saving money on office furniture. Don't overlook it.
NEVER PAY RETAIL
If you do need to buy new furniture, avoid buying at FULL-PRICE wherever possible. Large stores often have special deals available from time to time. For instance, floor display models that have minor scratches may go for steep discounts. And near the end of the year, just before time to do inventory, you can find great SALES on overstocks and items the stores need to move out for the new models. Be patient and you can find almost anything on sale.
With a bit of planning, it is possible to dramatically REDUCE your expenses on office furniture. Use some of the above ideas and get the functionality you need even if you have a limited budget!
Mary West writes about workspace design. Her articles on office furniture include how to buy office furniture on a budget, other ideas to save money on furniture and more. Visit her website at www.guide-to-office-furniture.info.
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