9 Essential Office Supplies for Small Businesses

Updated September 30, 2022

Running a small business involves a lot of hard work and attention to detail. One simple thing that can keep your business running smoothly is having the right supplies on hand. Office supplies contribute to everything from efficiency to accuracy and they’re an easy detail to get right when you have a comprehensive list to follow.

In this article, we list nine office supplies you should keep on hand with examples and tips to help you stay well-stocked.

Benefits of stocking the right office supplies

Whether you're starting your own small business or you’re an office manager tasked with furnishing a new office space, you need to know which tools and supplies are essential to doing your job. While some offices have specialized office equipment, such as 3D printers, other workplaces use the same basic supplies to get work done.

Stocking your desk and office space with all of the essential supplies before you need them allows you to be as efficient as possible and limits costly supply deliveries. Making a list of all of the supplies your office needs and regularly stocking items as they are used keeps the entire office running smoothly.

Related: 20 Ways To Improve Your Work Environment

Essential supplies for office work

While every department serves its own unique function, some office supplies are in universal demand. Following are the major categories to add to your office supplies shopping list:

Paper supplies

Despite the office memo being replaced by the office email, paper products are never going to completely disappear from the workplace. Anytime you need to take notes or print a meeting agenda, you’ll need some type of paper product. So make sure your office has some or all of the following on hand:

  • Sticky notes

  • Notebooks

  • Printer paper

  • Company stationery

  • Butcher paper or packing paper- Calendars

  • Planners

  • Envelopes

  • Manila folders

  • Business cards

Organizational supplies

Supplies that keep you organized help you prioritize tasks and meet deadlines. These supplies allow you to store items for quick retrieval. They also help people locate necessary documents from other teams. Examples of organizational supplies are:

  • Binders and insert tabs

  • Highlighters and markers

  • Pens and pencils

  • Erasers

  • Planners

  • Staplers and staples

  • Hole punches

  • Paperclips

  • Pushpins

  • Scissors

  • Glue

  • Tape

  • Rubber bands

  • Stamps

  • Desk organizers

  • Utensil holders

Related: How To Organize Your Desk, Office or Cubicle at Work

Meetings and presentations supplies

The right office supplies can help make a visual presentation sing. Keep the following supplies on hand for meetings, presentations and any time a team of employees needs to share ideas and gain feedback:

  • Whiteboards with markers and erasers

  • Chalkboards with chalk and erasers

  • Bulletin board with pushpins

  • Paper easels with pens

Shipping supplies

Any business that has ingoing or outgoing mail on any scale will need appropriate supplies for shipping. Companies that sell products may need large-scale shipping operations with more supplies, while other offices might only need basic mailing supplies. Examples of office supplies to keep on hand for shipping include:

  • Boxes

  • Padded envelopes

  • Tape

  • Bubble wrap

  • Styrofoam

  • Stamps

  • Shipping labels

  • Return address stickers

  • Plastic wrap

  • Security seals

  • Temperature and moisture control packs

Related: Learn About Being a Shipping Clerk

Basic cleaning supplies

Like any shared space, it is important to make sanitation and cleanliness a priority to ensure everyone is healthy and comfortable. Even companies that have a dedicated janitorial staff should have cleaning supplies accessible to other staff members so they can keep their personal desk area tidy. Make sure employees have easy access to cleaning essentials for everyday mishaps, like spilled coffee near a keyboard:

  • Trash cans

  • Trash bags

  • Paper towels

  • Wet wipes

  • Glass cleaner

  • Screen cleaners

  • Soap

  • Sponges

  • Hand sanitizer

  • Brooms

  • Dustpans

  • Rubber gloves

  • Air freshener

Kitchen and breakroom supplies

When people spend a large portion of their day in the office, they may use a shared kitchen or break room to relax, converse and share meals. Consider these supplied when stocking a kitchen space or break room:

  • Cups

  • Plates

  • Utensils

  • Plastic bags

  • Aluminum foil

  • Dish rack

  • Snacks and drinks optional

Related: Create a Productive Home Office

Technology accessories

While your IT department will handle any major equipment needs, your staff’s computers will need a few regular accessories to keep them humming along. A few extras to keep on hand include the following:

  • Toner and ink for printers

  • Keyboards

  • Computer mice

  • Mousepads

  • Flash drives

  • Power strips

  • Batteries and chargers

Basic first aid supplies

Having a first-aid kit fully stocked and easily available is important for office safety. The following list should not take the place of emergency and safety supplies, which should be carefully monitored and adhere to all legal requirements. Here are some basic safety items to keep on hand:

  • OSHA approved first aid kit

  • Flashlights

  • Bandages

  • Gauze

  • Tweezers

  • Gloves

  • Alcohol towelettes

  • Instant ice packs

  • Wet floor signs

Party decorations

Even if you have a small office staff you’ll still have occasion to celebrate birthdays and major holidays. You can make sure the office kitchen/break room/party room is festive with just a few of these basic supplies on hand:

  • Birthday streamers

  • Balloons

  • Candles for cakes

  • Holiday-appropriate decorations

  • Paper tablecloths

  • Paper cups

  • Paper plates

  • Paper napkins

  • Plastic utensils

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