Q&As: Furnishing Your Office on a Budget

Q: Will household furniture work in an office?

A: A lot of household furniture will not hold up to the heavy usage that office furniture gets. If you move household furniture into the office, you may be surprised to find out how soon legs break on chairs, drawers fall apart, and desks become wobbly.

Q: Why are some file cabinets so cheap and others so expensive?

A: Much of the furniture designed for home offices is junk. File cabinets are an excellent example. The cheaper file cabinets feature drawers that jam even before you leave the store. I am surprised the warrantees don’t promise breakage before you even get home!

A good file cabinet that really holds up can be quite expensive. So, it is better to buy a better-quality used item than a cheap new one.

Q: Should I rent furniture?

A: The rates that furniture rental companies charge are usually exorbitant. It is better to buy.

Q: Whom can I arrange to lease equipment from?

A: Consider the leasing options available from the manufacturer first. Then check the options available from a leasing firm. Banks also offer leasing, but this may affect your borrowing limits in the future.

You can also approach any friends or relatives who have helped you finance your business—and even those who refused. They may be willing to purchase your furniture and lease its use to you while retaining title. It may be viewed as less risky than actually lending money.

I once had my attorney buy an inexpensive typesetting machine and lease it back to me. As we sat over breakfast, after ironing out the details, he only had one complaint—we had just eaten all of his profit!

Q: What about buying office furniture online?

A: You might be able to get a great deal online, but you might find just as good of a deal locally, especially if you will consider close-outs or furniture used as showroom samples, but check it out. Online may be your best route, especially if you don’t live in a major metropolitan area, where furniture pricing can be highly competitive.

Keep in mind that furniture you see pictured online may not seem quite so impressive or sturdy when you have a chance to see it in person.

While I certainly have purchased furniture and equipment through the mail, I offer one caution. One prominent cut-rate electronics mail-order dealer I once used went bankrupt. You should know that if you prepay for merchandise and the company goes belly up after you have sent your check but before they have shipped your merchandise, then you are a general creditor. In other words, you have no special claim on the item you ordered and the check you sent is no longer yours. You are merely one of many on a long list of creditors and you would be extremely lucky to get a full settlement on your claim. To avoid this situation, ask to be billed or pay with a credit card.

About Bob Adams

Bob Adams is a Harvard MBA serial entrepreneur. He has started over a dozen businesses including one that he launched with $1500 and sold for $40 million. He has written 17 books and created 52 online courses for entrepreneurs. Bob also founded BusinessTown, the go-to learning platform for starting and running a business.