Small Business Guide: How to Choose the Right Printer for Your Needs

Photo of author
Written By Andrew Lane

Andrew Lane is a Digital Printing Technology Expert with over a decade of experience in the printing industry. With a deep knowledge of the latest printing technologies, Andrew has a keen eye for emerging trends and innovations.

Selecting the right printer for your small business can feel like navigating a maze. With so many models, features, and price points, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. But don’t worry, I’m here to guide you through the process.

Having the right printer can boost your business’s efficiency and productivity. It’s not just about printing documents; it’s about finding a device that supports your workflow and fits your budget.

Understanding Printer Types for Small Businesses

A small business’s operational needs identify the best printer type. Let’s dig into details of top printer types and their potential benefits for small businesses.

Inkjet Printers: Versatile and Color-Enhanced

Firstly, inkjet printers offer versatility. Often the choice for businesses that prioritize high-quality color printing, these machines can handle a variety of media types, including glossy photo paper or textured stationery. For instance, if you’re running a boutique creative agency, an inkjet printer is a compelling choice due to its color depth and accuracy.

Laser Printers: Speed and Efficiency

Secondly, laser printers provide speed and efficiency. A business that regularly prints large volumes of documents would significantly benefit from the quick turnaround times that these printers offer. The upfront costs of a laser printer may be higher, but the lower operating costs, in the long run, make it a sensible choice for enterprises that prioritize efficiency. Take, for example, a busy law firm – a laser printer can handle their rigorous print demands with ease.

Multifunction Printers: All-in-One Solutions

Lastly, multifunction printers, or MFPs, are all-in-one solutions that offer a printed, scanned, copied, and occasionally faxed output from a single device. If space constraint is a concern, or if your business demands multiple functionalities, an MFP is an optimal choice. A small doctor’s office, for instance, might highly value the multi-tasking abilities of these printers.

Careful examination of the specific printer types available can support your small business in choosing a printer that not only fits the budget but also enhances productivity and simplifies workflows.

Assessing Your Business Printing Needs

Before investing in a printer, I thoroughly evaluate the printing requirements and align them with the nature of my business operations. The first step involves an analysis of the printing volume, the necessary print quality and color requirements, and the importance of scanning and copying functions.

Analyzing Printing Volume

The volume of pages I print daily has a substantial impact on the type of printer for my small business. When the tasks do not involve high-volume printing, an inkjet printer may suffice. For instance, companies that generate fewer than 200 pages per day find inkjet printers cost-effective and efficient. On the contrary, when my operations involve printing over 200 pages daily, a laser printer provides the maximized output I require.

Considering Print Quality and Color Requirements

The need for superior print quality and vibrant color reproduction takes precedence when my business engagements involve marketing brochure creation or detailed graphic presentations. In such situations, the high-quality output of inkjet printers offers an ideal solution. For instance, professional photographers prefer the detailed color rendering and high resolution provided by premium inkjet models.

Evaluating the Importance of Scanning and Copying Functions

If my business operations involve a frequent need for copying and scanning documents, a multifunction printer turns out beneficial. In addition to printing, these printers include built-in capabilities for copying, scanning, and even faxing, all in one space-saving design. For instance, a law firm often requires scanning contracts and legal documents, making multifunction printers a necessary tool in their offices.

Remember, the decision of what printer to invest in isn’t made in isolation, but rather involves examining your business’s specific needs and how different printers can meet those needs in the most efficient and cost-effective way possible.

Key Features to Look for in a Small Business Printer

After understanding the primary types of printers and assessing your business printing needs, it’s crucial to dive deeper into the key features that make a printer suitable for a small business. These features include connectivity options, paper handling and output capacities, and cost-efficiency in relation to toner or ink usage.

Connectivity Options for Seamless Workflow

Modern businesses rely on a variety of devices to complete daily tasks. Therefore, the printer’s connectivity options remain a vital factor. Printers offering flexible connectivity options, like Wi-Fi, Ethernet, or USB, allow for seamless workflow.

For instance, wireless printers let numerous devices connect simultaneously, supporting a range of mobile devices. This feature supports the bustling office environment and the trend of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD). USB and Ethernet connections, on the other hand, provide a more secure and stable connection, particularly essential in data-sensitive operations.

Paper Handling and Output Capacities

Assessing your daily print volume helps determine the required paper handling and output capacities in a printer. Small businesses differ in their printing needs. For some, a 250-pages paper tray suffices, while others may require larger 500-pages paper trays to function efficiently.

Output capacity also earned a spot on the list. Printers with larger output trays, which hold an entire ream of paper, eliminate the need for frequent emptying and thus streamline operations.

Cost-Efficiency and Toner/Ink Usage

Lastly, consider the printer’s cost-efficiency and its toner or ink usage. This includes up-front costs, costs-per-page, and the longevity of the toner or ink cartridges. Laser printers often have a higher upfront cost but provide a lower cost-per-page than inkjet printers.

For instance, businesses with high print volumes might opt for laser printers to maximize cost-efficiency over time. Yet, for those needing high-quality color printing and have a low print volume, an inkjet printer combining cost-effectiveness and quality becomes the practical choice. Remember, the aim is to find a balance between cost-efficiency and functionality.

Budgetary Considerations for Small Business Printers

Breaking down the costs associated with printers helps in making informed choices. The evaluation includes initial purchase price, long-term costs through consumables, and the total cost of ownership, which sums up all the expenses over the printer’s lifespan. Each area carries considerations that significantly affect the budgetary allotment of small businesses.

Initial Costs vs. Long-Term Savings

Initial printer costs encompass expenses at the point of purchase. Lower upfront costs often produce an eyecatch, an example being the highly affordable inkjet printers. However, don’t let it obscure the view of long-term expenses. While initial costs are important, especially for budget-concerned small businesses, understanding how these costs translate to long-term savings provides a more realistic financial landscape.

For instance, an inkjet printer’s price tag often gives a sense of relief. Yet, the consumables it requires, like costly ink cartridges, often result in higher long-term expenses. On the other hand, laser printers show higher initial costs, but their consumables (toner) prove more cost-efficient with time. They’re suitable for high-volume printing needs, promising long-term savings despite the substantial upfront cost.

Assessing Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)

Estimating the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) integrates both initial costs and long-term expenses together, incorporating aspects like maintenance, repair costs, and even energy consumption. A printer with a lower TCO proves more economical in the long run, irrespective of its initial price.

Consider two printers, A and B. Printer A boasts a moderate price but consumes inexpensive cartridges with a high yield, necessitates less service, and consumes less power. Printer B, on the other hand, comes with a lower price tag but requires expensive low-yield cartridges, frequent servicing, and consumes more power. In this scenario, Printer A presents a lower TCO despite a higher initial price.

In sum, budgetary considerations for small business printers stretch beyond the purchase price. They delve into long-term expenditures and total cost of ownership, evaluating the financial commitment committed to a printer throughout its lifecycle. Select the printer with the balance between costs and performance, tailored to specific business needs.

Top Printer Recommendations for Small Businesses

Armed with the knowledge of key factors like print volume, quality, TCO, and your specific business needs, we can consolidate this information into solid printer recommendations.

The Best Inkjet Options

Inkjet printers bring two primary benefits to your business: detailed color printing and cost-effectiveness for smaller jobs. They work by spraying droplets of ink onto paper for precise color representation. Look for printers like:

  • The Epson EcoTank ET-4760. It sports high-capacity, refillable ink tanks cutting down on cost per print. The initial price might seem steep but the low operating costs make it a great TCO option.
  • The Canon PIXMA G7020 is another great option. This beast churns out quality outputs and the refills won’t dent your pocket since it also uses refillable tanks. High-yield inks, quiet operation, make it a favorite.

The Best Laser Printer Choices

Laser printers use toner, which lasts longer than ink, and typically offer faster print speeds. They are ideal for businesses with heavy print volume needs. Notable options include:

  • The HP LaserJet Pro M281fdw is a color laser printer that doesn’t compromise on print quality. It’s known for its fast output, and mobile printing features.
  • Brother HL-L2395DW is a monochrome laser printer with efficiency and cost-effectiveness at its core. Its Toner Save mode reduces printing costs while maintaining output quality.

The Best Budget-Friendly Printers

A limited budget doesn’t mean you have to compromise on quality. There are printers on the market with great performance and affordable price tags.

  • The Canon PIXMA TR4520 is an affordable inkjet option that offers good print quality and comes with a document feeder.
  • If you’re after a laser option, the Brother HL-L2300D is a monochrome printer that meets essential print needs at a reasonable price. This budget-friendly printer produces high-quality text documents quickly and efficiently.

Maintenance and Support

Understanding Warranty and Service Agreements

Gauging the value of warranty and service agreements offers peace of mind. A comprehensive warranty or service agreement clarifies what kind of support a small business can expect in case of printer malfunction. HP, for instance, offers a one-year limited warranty on most of its laser printers, covering defects in materials or workmanship. Samsung’s printers come with a similar one-year coverage. However, extended warranties or additional service agreements can cover more long-term problems. It’s critical to analyze these agreements as they present an indicator of future support. Unexpected downtime translates to workflow disruption and potential financial loss, and supportive warranties or service agreements mitigate such risks.

Setting Up a Maintenance Schedule

Securing the longevity of your small business’s printer rests heavily on regular maintenance. Instituting a schedule for routine printer check-ups can avert many potential problems. For example, a standard maintenance routine includes regular cleaning of the inside of the printer and the print head, as well as checking the toner or ink levels. Your printer manual can provide specific maintenance instructions tailored to your particular make and model. Additionally, many manufacturers, like Brother and Epson, offer guidance and recommendations for maintenance schedules and procedures on their websites. Abiding by these manufacturer guidelines helps ensure your printer operates smoothly, reducing unanticipated interruptions and extending its lifespan.


Choosing the right printer for your small business doesn’t have to be a daunting task. Remember, it’s all about understanding your specific needs and budget. Keep in mind factors like print volume, quality, and Total Cost of Ownership. Don’t forget to consider the long-term savings that come with cost-efficient models. Whether you’re leaning towards the detailed color output of the Epson EcoTank ET-4760 or the speedy efficiency of the Brother HL-L2395DW, there’s a printer out there that’s a perfect fit for your business. And, when you’ve made your choice, don’t overlook the importance of regular maintenance and support to keep your printer running smoothly. Your small business deserves the best, and with the right printer, you’re one step closer to achieving just that.