By Daniel Hunter

The cost of the little things needed to run a business often come as the biggest surprise to small businesses owners, according to research from insurers AXA.

AXA said small businesses needs to be mindful of smaller expenses when finalising their budgets for the new financial year.

The research shows many small business owners underestimate the money needed for the little bits and pieces needed to keep going, with 13% saying that sundries and miscellaneous items such as tea and toilet roll are the biggest shock cost.

The amount of cash required for stationary and printer ink is the biggest surprise for a further 13% of business owners, while 9% reel at the size of their phone bills and 6% are amazed by the money they spend on postage.

But almost a third of bosses (32%) confess they don’t always shop around to get best value for money, meaning many could be squandering thousands of pounds a year because they don’t have time to check their smaller costs or simply don’t realise the need.

Overall, salaries remain the biggest expense for a third of small businesses (33%) followed by fuel (13%) materials (12%) stock (11%) and rent and rates (10%).

Darrell Sansom, managing director of AXA Business Insurance said: “Little things can cost a lot and even if you have the best of intentions for your business budget, it’s amazing how quickly unexpected costs stack up and start biting into your profits.

“Of course, we all know the importance of spending money wisely, and being too thrifty isn’t always best - there are clear benefits to be gained from paying your people well, using quality materials and investing in the right premises, products and services to protect your business and help it grow for example.

“But what about the basic items that slowly drain your profit margin day in day out? Do you really need to flush away thousands on expensive toilet roll or buy biscuits for every business meeting? Maybe you do — but there’s a good chance that there’s money to be saved somewhere. Carefully monitoring and controlling all expenses is essential and reviewing costs and switching brands or suppliers on some of those seemingly small things could soon see the savings stack up.”