Whether you’re planning a start-up business, or are in the beginning stages of opening a small business, you have surely considered some different options for all your business needs. Choosing whether to purchase or lease commercial equipment is a huge decision for businesses to make, assuming of course that their business will require printing services. Below, we discuss some of the benefits and disadvantages of all of your options when it comes to figuring out how your company will produce printed work.

Buying a Commercial Printer 

One of the first things that scares off small companies in terms of buying a printer is the sunk cost. The initial cost for buying a printer can range from several hundreds to thousands of dollars. The cost depends on the quality of the equipment that you buy and will increase if you need to purchase multiple printers. When purchasing a printer, it’s also worth thinking about the unexpected costs for ongoing support, maintenance and accessories like ink.

On the plus side, purchasing your own printer may get you a significantly larger tax deduction for standard business operating costs, which will take a bit of the sting out of the initial purchase price. If you manage to get a printer that lasts and requires minimal upkeep it can be a major money saver in the long term compared to the ongoing costs of a lease or outsourcing print jobs. Should customer printing needs change requiring new printing technology you may end up with a very expensive (and very large) paper weight.

Leasing A Printer 

Leasing a printer is an option to negate that initial spend that comes with a commercial printer, but may cost you more in the long run. While leasing or renting a printer, you might have to pay an initial security deposit so you will need to factor that into your budget. With technology changing so quickly these days, you might find yourself constantly upgrading your printers.

If you have a flexible lease you may be able to upgrade your printers without any or a significant change in pricing. However, depending on how frequently the company you lease from upgrades their stock, you may not have much of a choice when it comes to the equipment that you get.

One of the big advantages of leasing a printer is the technical support. It may also give you an advantage on specific costs, such as the cost of printer ink, because the leasing company may offer discounts on ink purchases or the cost may be included in the rental fee.

Leasing printing equipment can also help you maintain predictable monthly expenses because you will be given a pre-determined monthly cost. Leasing a printer will still typically allow you to claim it on your tax deductions, but usually not as big of a deduction as it would be had you bought it.

Even though you have a bit more flexibility in terms of unloading a lease than a purchased printer, you can still get locked into an unfavorable contract. If your business finds a way to function without needing to constantly be printing you may still be stuck in a contract that you’re unable to end early.

Outsourcing Print Work 

Determining whether or not you should source out your printing needs to a company such as Fed Ex/Kinkos really depends on how much you will be printing. If your small business can function with minimal printing or your larger print jobs don’t need to be printed in house then it may make more financial sense to outsource these services. There is no need to spend money on equipment as expensive as a commercial printer if it’s something that you will hardly use.

While individual print jobs will be substantially more expensive using a third party supplier, the long term savings from avoiding the costs of maintenance, support, printers, ink, and paper can make a sizable impact on your bottom line. Over time, if your printing needs grow there’s no switching cost to moving into a lease or purchasing your own printer.

Before you make a decision it’s worth taking a long, hard look at your company’s current and future printing needs. As a small company every dollar matters and an expense as large as the cost of a new printer or the long term cost of a leased printer can make a big difference on the bottom line.

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Amanda Sozak is a blogger and contributor to many small business sites across the web.