How to Start an Office Supply Business

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Offices need a regular supply of their various needs day-to-day like paper, ink, paper clips, and many other things. Schools are also big users of office supplies, which can even be among your major markets of the business you are thinking of setting up.

An informal survey of the number of offices and schools in the area of your planned business would be helpful.

When you start your office supply business, ensure that the space you occupy has enough storage capacity for the various office supplies that you have to keep in stock in preparation to servicing your clients. Your stockroom must be of the all-weather type, meaning your supplies, especially paper, may not get wet even if there are strong winds and rains that may hit your area every now and then. You should have also a closed van that you can use for hauling the office supplies from your supplier or for delivering them to your clients’ offices.

Identify Your Source of Office Supplies

Your location should also be near enough to the suppliers you would tap to provide you with all the office supply items that you need to be ready with, whenever your customers and clients call for them. If you can get suppliers willing to deliver to your place the items you need, so much the better, so you can substantially cut on your own transportation costs. That will also mean some savings for you on overhead expenses for personnel. All the suppliers you will work with must have appropriate communication facilities so you can easily contact them anytime.

Locate Your Store Centrally

The other important factor to consider in deciding where to locate your store is its central location relative to the business offices and the schools that will be your main clients and customers. This should make your many delivery trips of office supplies to them easy and convenient for you. If you can also get a store space, where there is considerable pedestrian traffic passing by all day that will be an added source of income. You can set up a retail portion of your store for small transactions with individuals needing to buy your office supply items.

You have to make the existence of your store known to the public, especially to the establishments that you will be supplying with the office supplies. You can initially spread this information when you conduct your survey of the area in the city where you intend to do business to determine how many offices and schools are there that will be your market for your goods. When you have finally decided where to locate the store, go around the offices and schools a second time, this time with your business card detailing more information about your new store. If you have established your own website, your business card should include this information for those who might choose to order office supplies from you online.

55 Comments

  • 1. Gerald Copeland said on 3/21/2009 9:29:50 PM
    Please provide information. Thanks.
  • 2. Ann Lott said on 9/2/2009 11:34:42 PM
    Thinking this article is pretty close to minimal information for somebody asking HOW TO START AN OFFICE SUPPLY BUSINESS.

    For instance, how does one get in touch with suppliers, how does one derive the formula to markup a product, are there categories or specialties of office supply stores -- not every store offers office cube installation, does one carry the inventory or use just-in-time inventory, and why would one do either. What are some of the best venues on which to advertise? A successful Office Supply Business depends on letting folks know one is in business.

    These are just the beginning of questions I had after reading this article.

    Something positive can said about the article; it caused me to think about the questions to which I had no answers.

    (In fairness to the author, I'm thinking maybe there's a word limit on these articles.... But some references to help on start to answer the questions above would have polished off this piece in a 360 kind of way.)
  • 3. erick masidza said on 1/14/2010 8:25:32 AM
    i'm intending to set up the office supply business in Kenya, Nairobi City
  • 4. Shandra P said on 2/3/2011 6:35:51 PM
    I would like to startup an office supply business I live in the area of Queens, NY USA
  • 5. satheesh said on 5/3/2011 3:49:16 AM
    how to contact and get order in offices for selling office stationery items
  • 6. Mohammad Rafi said on 5/7/2011 6:10:23 AM
    Hi, Kindly suggest me how to start office supply business in Dubai? What should be the strategies? What products should I focus? what are base price of Office Supply products? How to contact the local suppliers? How to find the customers who can pay cash? How to find the target market? How to purchase and setup the business in low capital? How to get the product knowledge? I am based in Dubai, UAE. Kindly suggest me. Thanking you. Best Regards, Rafi.
  • 7. kweku boakye said on 5/27/2011 3:50:30 AM
    i would like to start a paper in Accra,Ghana. there are already big players in the industry what i am hoping to do is to target the very small to medium companies and we would do a proactive type of supply. Just in time supplies and we will get paid at the end of the month. for most companies around here they need to come up with the money to buy office supplies but ours will be such that we supply and bill them at the end of the month. could you please help out with some advice please
  • 8. syed Amjed said on 6/15/2011 2:50:39 AM
    Hi im located in bangalore in rt nagar area, Karnataka , India . Kindly let me know some details on how to start a business in office supply.
  • 9. Sebongile Goitsemang Moganetsi said on 12/2/2011 6:29:42 PM
    I want to start a business of office supply in kopong Botswana may u please tell me What should be the strategies, What products should i focus? What are base price of office supply products? How to contact the local suppliers, How to find customers who can pay cash? How to find the target market, How to purchase and setup the business in low capital, How to get the product knowledge. I am based in Botswana, Kopong village. Thanking you. Best regards, Sebongile.
  • 10. Marissa Sunga said on 1/25/2012 2:43:32 AM
    I want to start a small business like this office supplies here in Paranaque and Makati City Philippines. What are those requirements or legal docs to be prepared before starting. and how to make a company profile or proposal to get client? kindly suggest and advice me. Thanks a lot.
  • 11. Goitseone Tebatso said on 2/16/2012 7:28:38 AM
    Botswana,,capital city,,Gaborone. i want to start an office supplies business but i am not sure how to go on about it..and my problem is i dont want to be focused only on office supplies as i believe i have a lot of potential and energy.
  • 12. goabaone gabonewe said on 6/5/2012 8:28:36 AM
    Botswana, Gaborone. i am interested in office supply business. what will be my target market, where can a find suppliers. how do i price
  • 13. Bita said on 8/7/2012 12:49:05 PM
    I would like to start a wholesale office supplies store in los angeles. How do I get in touch with suppliers. Where do I make my purchases.
  • 14. Rodney said on 8/9/2012 7:00:05 PM
    I'd like to start an office supply company in Fort Washington, Maryland specifically for the purpose of selling the supplies to the government of Liberia. How would I go about doing that?
  • 15. motlalepula isaac said on 8/22/2012 2:43:37 PM
    i would love to start an office supply company in botswana, chobe. supplying all companies including the government. pls help.
  • 16. narendra vyas said on 8/25/2012 1:04:46 AM
    how to start online stationery store? How much it cost ? How can i supply the same, pls guide me in competition mkt. Small town Phalodi, Jodhpur, Rajasthan, India
  • 17. Vas said on 9/14/2012 11:55:21 AM
    I am interested to start online office supplies store in my township Piscataway, NJ, first serving township businesses, later to county level and etc., myself and my wife, may be I will drive day time and my wife cares online and office supply fill up.
  • 18. Randy said on 9/21/2012 2:58:57 PM
    I an interested in starting an office supply business in Georgetown, Guyana.
  • 19. MANOJ KUMAR MITRA said on 11/4/2012 5:42:56 AM
    want to start office & school items supply business. tezpur. assam, india
  • 20. Dannies Mpho Pasela said on 11/28/2012 9:46:11 AM
    I am young Motswana man living in Gaborone the city of Botswana. I have an idea of opening a supplies company in my city. I am looking for business plan that can help me make a step towards my intention
  • 21. Ajit Kumar said on 12/30/2012 4:35:56 AM
    Dear Ma'am/Sir, i want to start business of paper based office stationary supply with focus on educational institutions and offices in bihar, india. what would be better strategy to manufacture or to source and sale. kindly advise me.
  • 22. ester said on 1/23/2013 3:30:44 AM
    I was reading the request for guidance and I'm looking for guidance too. I am in the process of opening a stationery shop and would like to be guided how to get suppliers in Namibia and RSA
  • 23. hermie liwanagan said on 3/8/2013 6:05:40 PM
    Dear sir, I'm planning to put up a small business office/stationary supply in philippines. But i want to know how to contact the supplier, in Philippines?
  • 24. tshediso ntlhokoe said on 3/11/2013 6:12:16 AM
    Dear sir/Madam I'm looking forward to start my stationary or office equipment business so staying in south africa ,freestate botshabelo so I'd like to know better from you guys
  • 25. Gajender Verma said on 3/14/2013 2:53:52 AM
    Hi, I am thinking to start up the stationery Business for Offices, School & Local as well, Please guide me, Also required your valuable comments on Capital part... Thanks in advance
  • 26. Rekha Babbar said on 3/16/2013 11:12:08 PM
    Hi, I am thinking to start up the stationery business for offices, schools at Canada, Vaghan ON
  • 27. Ashokkumar said on 3/24/2013 2:49:43 AM
    Hi this is Ashok i want to do export import business, from chennai to any country r india. please send full detail email: ashokkumar0414@gmail.com
  • 28. rodrigo said on 4/16/2013 2:54:34 AM
    I have read most comments. I plan to have a business like Office supplies which brought me here. I am a contract specialist and involved in supply chain business. I would not consider my self an expert but I can start some sense in this discussion. I will make it brief and concise and I have my own questions as well so please bare with me.
    1. Think small first. Better start small scale and escalate your business later.
    2. This answers the space and storage requirement because you only keep a small inventory. Example your storage room in the house that is secure and dry.
    3. Local government business license requirement and information are readily available in your municipality. This answers you licensing issues. Example business permits and licensing, capitalization required, business configuration alternatives, sometimes list of suppliers are available in your local government offices.
    4. What kind of products? Check the market and industry demand in you place of operation. If you are near schools, business establishments, etc.
    5. Know the products they need, there are multiple products. Start with your excel spreadsheet by listing the products. Place a cell and estimate retail and wholesale pricing.
    6. Identify suppliers in your area. Check the yellow pages, internet.
    7. I will continue next time with more recommendations.
  • 29. tumiso said on 5/5/2013 12:25:08 AM
    hi im 22yrs and im in johannesburg,i would like to start an office supply company,i already know of someone who will be selling me his used office equipment,so how do i start? How do i negotiate with new clients? How do i contact local suppliers and maybe discuss discounts when buying in bulk?
  • 30. Bubba said on 8/8/2013 3:49:16 PM
    - Finding wholesalers: Your country's business or industrial guide. Visit trade shows. If you are in the US, many manufacturers will sell directly to you. Check out the vendors list for CAMEX or EdExpo.

    - Pricing: Check on other local businesses or in retail locations on nearby counties. For goverment or industrial sales you have to buy direct from the manufacturer. In general, multiply the COST by 1.8. Research the profit margin formula.

    - Products: Start with the basic: Ballpoint and gel pens, Copier paper, Folders, Invoice notebooks, Pencils, Business machine paper (for atm and adding machines, packing tape and masking tape (lots of both, envelopes. If you have schools then add construction paper, crayons, water-based marker, coloring pencils, notebooks. Work it up from there. Don't just buy the cheapest. Buy some quality products too (Ex, Pilot pens. Good place to start - Bazic products. Basically the whole catalog sells.

    - Be warned: Governments are slow to pay. I'd stay away from them until you can absorb their 6mo-1yr (to never!) paying cycle. Unless you can make them pay cash. If so, teach me that trick!
  • 31. Terry Some said on 9/3/2013 5:07:43 AM
    i am looking to start an office and school stationery shop in shillong, meghalaya. however, i am having a hard time finding a supplier in the area, and as i am totally new to the business world my lack of information has left me crippled. your help and assistance will highly be appreciated. Thank You
  • 32. lebzah said on 9/11/2013 11:28:20 AM
    pliz advice me on how to start a distribution company in Maun (Botswana)
  • 33. rohit singh said on 10/26/2013 6:59:47 AM
    i am rohit in lucknow pls suggest me that how to start stationary supply in office.
  • 34. colleta roos said on 11/7/2013 2:33:00 PM
    i am based in wynberg Johannesburg. i have a warehouse full of office stationery that I would like to sell but do not know who to sell it to. please help
  • 35. Matthew Olamilekan said on 11/29/2013 11:21:06 PM
    @ all business partners. My advice for now is that we should start the business with ourselfs. My due respect to you all. If you check my profile u will find out that I am the youngest because I am still in college. Business is all about trust and self determinations.. We need our entrepreneur skill. Do u remember that we re risktaker, money is not everything, make connections every time, manage your resources and try to show up. I promise we will fulfill our plans and destiny...... love you all.
  • 36. simangaliso said on 4/10/2014 1:56:14 PM
    hi, i would like to start a stationary business which will allow me to distribute to neighboring countries like Botswana, Zimbabwe, Swaziland and Lesotho. what is your advice on how i should go step by step on starting this business and establishing it.
  • 37. Martha said on 6/11/2014 5:06:10 AM
    Hi, Kindly suggest me how to start office supply business in Ethiopia? What should be the strategies? What products should I focus? what are base price of Office Supply products? How to contact the suppliers? How to find the customers who can pay cash? How to find the target market? How to purchase and setup the business in low capital? How to get the product knowledge? I am based in Ethiopia, Addis Ababa. Kindly suggest me. Thanking you. Best Regards, Martha.
  • 38. Lawrence Diphahe said on 6/19/2014 6:47:03 AM
    Hi, I'm Lawrence and am currently trying to set up office supplies business, my problem is I need a partner with the same dream. Someone who is a go-getter. Energetic and has interpersonal skills. Someone who can think out of the box.
  • 39. jabeen said on 6/26/2014 3:17:54 AM
    hello sir, pls let me how to start stationery and what is the procedure to start what all the things required and how to take the stationery items and where too. pls guide me. thanking you
  • 40. Godfrey Tlhowe said on 9/29/2014 4:58:58 AM
    I want to start stationery supplies i do not know which steps to take which first thing to do
  • 41. Raj said on 12/16/2014 3:53:42 AM
    Plan to start a school and office stationery shop. Suggest me the plan and the supplier base
  • 42. L R ARIF said on 1/20/2015 4:56:29 AM
    I have opened office supplies store in karama Dubai. How locate to customers and how to locate suppliers. and how to bargains prices from the suppliers in credit terms.
  • 43. SAMEER said on 2/21/2015 2:53:28 AM
    Hi, I need to open Stationery/office supply Business in Dubai, Please let me know how to start, products and suppliers. Regards
  • 44. Kimberly Robinson said on 2/23/2015 9:34:48 PM
    I'm trying to figure out how I can start an office supply i.e. making copies, typing flyers, brochures. Who can I contact for starters.
  • 45. bineeshp pg said on 4/16/2015 7:18:41 AM
    Let me know that how to price the materials i.e how much percentage of profit should be added on the cost of materials. Bineesh, India, Kerala
  • 46. Ruchika Mittal said on 5/20/2015 6:22:30 AM
    HI I want to start stationary business in the south Africa from india. I am from Delhi, India
  • 47. SUVRA DAS said on 7/24/2015 12:16:44 AM
    Sir/ Mam, I want to supply office and schools stationary In Kolkata Offices , Schools or in out of India. I want companion of companies and schools to spread my business.
  • 48. Teresia Munene said on 11/27/2015 6:37:02 AM
    Am glad to find this section discussing my area of interest which is supplies. Am think of putting up kind of a wholesale supplies company but am kindly requesting someone who can take me through step by step to run the business in the best way following the legal documents and procedures.I will be glad to be served by one of you. and I will appreciate a lot. Thank you
  • 49. Ayesha said on 12/21/2015 2:11:17 AM
    I have just started an Office supplies/Equipment Business in Dubai. I am new to this activity. Kindly give basic guidelines as to what steps should be followed initially, all the do's and dont's of this industry if possible. Someone above gave a tip regarding pricing which was a good way to calculate the price of items. How to hit the correct target market.How to do business with minimum money. In Dubai people are mostly doing business in Cash now. So what should be the terms and conditions.Which type of products are cheaper and sell good.Please need support and guidance.Thanks
  • 50. DANIEL said on 1/29/2016 9:29:42 PM
    I would like to start office supplies BUSINESS hear in U.S.A missouri state need help with set ups and amount of money required.also how can i work and connect with company for better deal please help thanks.
  • 51. Mahtab said on 3/30/2016 4:59:00 AM
    Hi. I want to start Office supplying business as well computer selling and its accessories selling and computer hardware software repair, installing and all related things in kolkata india. So please tell me whom to contact for supplying these all things
  • 52. Andrew said on 4/14/2016 10:29:21 AM
    I have already started Office Supply Business but I'm struggling to get clients buy, I don't have a store but I have suppliers who are willing to Source me a products, Kempton Park, Johannesburg
  • 53. delton masoga said on 9/28/2016 12:28:03 PM
    @ANDREW i think of starting office supply business too but i have being doing lot of research and meet up with good suppliers so for you Andrew you just need someone who is willing to convenience clients by gathering information or leads to local business people, and managers to tell them about your business offer them a good discount that they won't even realise that it is a discount. i am delton from tembisa currently unemployed 0820535174
  • 54. Gravano said on 10/4/2016 11:06:17 AM
    I want to start supplying stationary, i recently opened my company but i am looking for shipments where i can get cheaper stationaries. Am gravano and really wana start asap an need good quality stationaries namibia. gobabis
  • 55. Jim beginner adviser said on 11/13/2016 9:02:48 PM
    @daniel - you can email me at jimcooper1224@yahoo.com and I can guide you or anyone with a outline that will help you be successful in the office supplies start up info you need

    jimcooper1224@yahoo.com || Office Supply Business Adviser

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