How do you know you are financially ready to open your business? Better still, how much does it cost to start a business? To start a business, you need dedication, time, and money.
You can be dedicated if you really want to be.
And time, well, everyone has 24 hours a day.
If you don’t have a lot of it to devote to the business, then you’re probably not dedicated enough.
However, money is not something you can just have.
Money begets money.
Your business will bring in money, but the business requires money in return.
If you do not have money, where can you find it?
And if you do have the money, how much does it cost to start a business?
Too Much Optimism Can Be Your Downfall
First of all, you don’t need to put in everything you have right now for your startup.
Do not just blindly believe that the higher the initial investment, the higher and faster the returns.
Lower your expectations and projections, as many issues will arise.
Keep an open mind and always have a plan B.
Remember: The cost of starting a business does not equate all of the money you have in your savings.
The Cost Of Starting A Business
You might think that your initial business expenses will only go to salaries, utilities, rent, and equipment.
If you’re thinking like that, then you’re overlooking a lot of things.
Here are other common factors to consider in start-up budgets.
In an optimistic entrepreneur’s mind, any business he establishes will be an instant success.
In the real world, nobody can perform a feat like that.
However, the chances of success can be raised by careful research.
Then again, research costs time and money, especially when starting a business.
Also, remember that time equals money, too.
Never forget that the time you should have spent working equals money you could have earned.
You have medicals, worker’s compensation, general liability, professional liability, and even commercial vehicle insurance to pay for once you set up a business.
Some countries make it compulsory for companies or businesses to be insured.
Check with your local government or talk to your lawyer on the rules and regulations of setting up a business.
Taxes, Fees, Licenses, And Permits
You’re lucky if your government only asks for one-time business fees.
Most governments around the world require yearly business fees like franchise taxes.
Permits and licenses, on the other hand, are often set to be renewed at a fixed interval.
Product Development Costs/Online Costs
If you’re building a product, you need to invest in an experienced and skilled product and design team that can both create, modify, and continuously improve/enhance whatever it is you’re selling.
It can get very expensive — but you can’t cut corners on these if you really want to develop and offer a high-quality product.
On the other hand, if your business is involved in the service or e-commerce industry, you need to invest in enhancing your skills, building your business profile, creating quality content, setting up an e-commerce site, and ensuring cyber-security, among others.
Office And Retail Space And/Or Online Presence
The amount you need for this part depends on your business.
Renting commercial space is much more expensive than just building a website.
Commercial space will also require you to think about utility bills.
Other variables that come into play in this category include mortgage, lease, association fees (if applicable), and the like.
Printer ink, paper, pens, and other office supplies are cheap, but their cost easily adds up over time.
To save yourself a lot on this aspect, consider buying wholesale.
Another option is to make everything in your business digital.
Even if you settle for an online business, it might come to a point that it will grow and require you to establish an office and hire additional employees.
So you still can’t completely avoid some of the costs required when a business is started.
Marketing and Advertising
Your products and/or services will not sell themselves.
It is crucial to include a marketing and advertising budget in your projected business plan costs.
Lawyers And Accountants (a.k.a. Business Legal Fees)
It is best that you have a lawyer and accountant to help your business at the very beginning to help you avoid any legal and financial loopholes and clashes.
Things can go wrong at any time.
It is always a must to have some money on hand to bail you out during emergencies.
Setting Up Costs
Another thing you should think about is the setup cost of your products.
The setting up cost is the amount you need to spend to prepare and process the goods that you are going to sell.
It also includes the cost required to repair or replace the equipment used in production, as well as the costs of quality assurance and logistics.
Usually, it is considered as a non-value-added cost.
Non-value-added costs are business expenditures that improve the product but do not necessarily increase its value.
For example, quality assurance processes such as checking your products for scratches is a non-value-added cost.
If you are in retail, customers expect that your products are good to go when they buy them.
So, as a retailer, it is expected that the goods you sell are already in good condition.
But since you want to assure or meet the standards of your consumers, you still need to perform quality assurance.
In general, when starting a business, note that non-value-added costs and processes are important, but they should be minimized in order to maximize profit.
Estimating The Start Up Costs For Running a Business
Knowing the considerations, at this point, you can make an estimated start-up cost for your business.
You will need to create two lists.
The first list is for startup expenses.
The second list is for startup assets.
Startup expenses are the things you need to spend on before you start your business.
It is the amount of money that you need to use before your business brings in any form of revenue.
For example, creating a logo or hiring a lawyer to assist you in your new entrepreneurial endeavor is included in the startup expenses.
Startup assets are your initial product stocks and money on hand.
Assets can include business vehicles, furniture, equipment, and supplies.
Starting Cash Balance
You cannot run a business without money on hand.
Also, you shouldn’t use all of your money to get assets and spend on expenses.
Your starting cash balance may depend on how much money you used to fund the business minus the startup costs.
It is crucial that you project the movement of your starting cash balance.
If that hits zero, you must look for more funding or reduce expenses.
Most entrepreneurs accumulate huge balances to combat business risks and emergencies.
If you’re getting outside funding and from people or bodies who have little business experience, you can expect that it will be difficult for them to give you or replenish your cash balance.
From an expert’s point of view, your cash balance should cover at least six months up to one year of business operations.
However, sometimes such funding can be difficult to obtain, and that can easily mess up your estimates.
The easiest way to get a better estimate of the needed cash balance is to compute all the possible expenses and losses you will go through during operations.
The cash balance should be enough to cover all of those expenses until your business comes into a break-even state or steady state.
Note that reaching the break-even state takes a lot of months and years after launching.
Timing, Prelaunch, And Normal Operations
The starting cost of your business is heavily affected by the timing of your business launch.
One of the factors for determining the right launch time is the amount of time you will spend during the hiring process.
Another factor that can affect your launch date is commercial space or website development.
Also, it is sometimes recommended that the month when you launch your business should be set to be the first month of your company’s fiscal [financial] year.
The timing of the start and end of your fiscal year will affect your taxes.
This makes your prelaunch operations and expenses separate from your first operating fiscal year.
It also means that you can process your prelaunch activities and expenses as soon as your business starts.
The Difference Between Assets And Expenses
Expenses are money you spend on items that are consumed.
These items are not owned by the company.
Assets are owned by the company and could provide future economic benefit to the company.
Many people are often confused by the difference between expenses and assets.
To make it simpler, follow this differentiation as laid out by standard accounting and taxation laws:
Expenses are deductible against [can be deducted from] income, which means they reduce taxable income. Assets are not deductible against income. Assets can be in the form of business equipment and property rights.
However, the amount spent on assets can become an expense if you sell said assets since the money used becomes the cost of sale/cost of goods sold.
Most businesses reduce the amount of money-generating assets to reduce the tax burden.
In most cases, accountants tend to include development costs as expenses instead of assets.
Some governments allow specific business equipment to be written off as expenses.
However, it is best to check with your accountant on which items are included or are within the rule.
The declaration of assets seems good since it inflates the value of your company.
But it can bring more headaches than benefits.
For example, declaring some expenses as assets can make you overstate your assets.
Plus, including assets that should be expenses will not look good in your accounting books.
Drafting A Business Budget
One of the difficulties in drafting start-up budgets is the lack of past information.
Because of that, you will have to rely on guesses and estimates.
The best way to get over this without too much guesswork is to obtain the budget data of a business that’s similar to what you are planning.
Even if you acquire budget data, you still need to create estimates of your own.
To make sure that your estimates will be close to reality, it is best that you generate the data for these business components:
- Facilities cost
- Rent, utilities, and subscriptions
- Marketing and advertising
- Employee salaries
- Professional fees
- Loan payments
- Fixed and dynamic costs for your products (raw materials, production equipment, packaging, shipping)
Meanwhile, your cash flow statement should include the following: monthly sales, collection, fixed costs, variable costs, and cash balance.
You should err on the side of caution and estimate your income to be lower than your expenses.
If this is your first time entering the industry, always remember that what you need will always cost more than you think — and what you get will always amount lower than what you expect.
Business Legal Fees
Small business owners often hesitate to get lawyers.
However, if you decide to not get one, know that you are going to be defenseless against lawsuits.
Those lawsuits can easily bring your reputation and business down.
Some of the problems you will face as a company owner are:
Employee lawsuits because of work environment issues, employee mismanagement and discrimination; customer lawsuits; and law violations.
Having a lawyer will come in handy, especially for asset management, application for permits and licenses, the creation of contracts, and mergers and acquisition.
Lawyers are often paid by the hour; some accept a flat fee.
As early as now, it is important that you choose and build a good business relationship with one.
Always prioritize getting lawyers with experience and skills.
As much as possible, don’t make cost the main consideration when hiring a lawyer for your business.
It may seem smart to hire cheap, but you might end up paying more in the long run — that’s because generally, the cheapest lawyers have the least experience.
So, you either end up shelling out more because they don’t have the experience and skills to cut costs for you, or you end up getting more qualified lawyers to fix unresolved issues.
Together with saving up for attorney fees, you should be prepared for potential legal fees you might encounter.
Two of them are court fees and damages.
If you do not want to manage that yourself, consider getting legal protection insurance.
Other Monthly Business Expenses
Don’t forget these monthly or occasional expenses in your budget and tax planning.
Services And Maintenance Expenses
These include maintenance costs on the facility, equipment, and general maintenance, such as lawn mowing, snow removal, etc.
Business Association Fees
Your membership fees in a professional association or business group will fall under this category, as well as professional publications.
From time to time, you may be expected to go on a business trip, whether it’s to meet with new customers or new suppliers, attend a conference or conduct an inspection in person.
When tracking such expenses, be as thorough as possible and list the purpose of each trip, the breakdown of expenses, etc.
At this point, you should already have an answer to your question, “How much does it cost to start a business?”
But then here comes the tricky part: breaking down the budget.
Which areas need more money, and which ones don’t require that much investment?
As a rule of thumb, business experts recommend placing more emphasis on your product or service and cutting back on your fixed expenses.
However, say you’re running an e-commerce site.
The monthly or annual fee you pay for the web domain is a fixed expense, but you would naturally want to invest in a good quality one since the user experience (UX) is an important factor for luring in and retaining customers.
So, when allocating funds to your business, you must factor in three things: how much money you have, how much you need to spend, and how much you must rake in to meet business goals.
Keeping detailed records of your cash flow — in and out of the business — is a must if you want to be in control of your business’ finances.
Don’t hesitate to note even the tiniest details, because every little bit counts when planning your budget and projecting your profits for the next year or quarter.
The more data you have, the better equipped you are to make well-informed decisions, especially in terms of cutting corners where needed and putting your money in smart investments.
What’s more, by laying out your business plan costs, it will be easier for you to secure funding and loans from investors and/or banks, determine the direction of where you plan to take your business and the immediate next steps of your startup, and improve your credit rating.
You can hire outside help such as a lawyer and an accountant to handle the nitty-gritty and legwork for the most part.
But ultimately, the success of your business depends on how knowledgeable you are with your finances — and having an estimated start-up cost on paper is a good start.
Have the above tips helped you answer the question of costs for your startup business?
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