So you have this awesome skill and you know you can sell it. But what would your startup expenses be like? Starting a business can cost you big time. Even if it’s just you building a presence to get the word out, you can end up bleeding cash.
It doesn’t have to be that way, though. If you’ve read Connor’s book, Free Up Your Business, you know that you can bootstrap with a few extra bucks. And you can scale that business just as well as you could any other. We have the strategies and knowledge available to us to make startup expenses pretty much what we want them to be. It just takes a little ingenuity and a lot of hard work.
Getting off the ground is the hardest part when you’re strapped for cash. This guide was created to help you get to know what your startup expenses will look like. It will provide a few options that you can check out along with some advice for keeping costs down. You will have to spend for a few things, but there are usually ways to do things for very little or even for free.
You should definitely aim high when you’re thinking of starting a business. There’s no telling where you can go if you reach for the stars. At the beginning, however, you can’t expect to put yourself way up there without spending too much. To keep your startup expenses to a minimum, you have to be prepared to start small.
One of the best business tips I can give to startups is to plan like you’re a million bucks but take steps like you have a dollar to your name. Born entrepreneurs are risk-takers, but always calculate and validate before jumping in. This starts with crunching numbers and doing diligent research for your business idea, and it never ends.
Your startup expenses will add up, especially in the crucial first few months. Put your limited capital where it will be most useful and you’ll be fine. Don’t worry just yet about how you’re going to scale your business if you don’t have seed money. All in good time.
What you need to focus on right now is how much you love your business idea and how much work you’re willing to put in. And read at least the first chapter of Connor’s book. Once you see that you can, really, build a million-dollar business by starting small, it can be liberating. Without a lot of overhead to weigh you down, you can climb faster. And you can do it on your own terms.
With that in mind, let’s dive into the basic startup expenses that you need to prepare for.
The first thing you want to do is get all your paperwork in order. You do not want to start building or operating before you have at least taken the first steps to file your company. You will want to do this in your state, and find out what this entails, including the limitations and benefits.
Note: Before registering a business name, you will want to have one ready. Your name means a lot, and it’s going to play into everything from here on out. You’ll want to get a website up and running pretty soon, for example, and you want to make sure that your business name is an available domain that you can reserve.
Depending on what type of business you want to form, your startup expenses to file can range from about $250-$500. A great place to start is on BizFilings. They have a lot of experience and can help you decide what the right business structure for you is. Their agents are available to assist clients, and they will know what licenses and permits will you need. Get all of your questions answered and all of the paperwork started so that’s out of the way.
While you wait for your official documents to be finalized, get your domain name and start looking at hosting options. Your startup expenses in this area shouldn’t be much at all. Still, it really depends on what you want and how fast you see your business expanding.
Domain and Hosting
There are a ton of domain providers out there, and you should spend some time shopping around. You can save as much as $20 or more depending on where you purchase from. Some domains will go for as little as $1 while others can cost you hundreds of dollars. But you can usually find a good one to match your name for under $20. Renewals are a different story, but it’s really easy to switch over. When renewal time comes, just go back and check the providers again to see who offers a better deal on a comparatively priced domain.
For hosting, you can go with a cheaper host as well, but you should know what you’re getting into. A lot of cheap hosts don’t provide a great platform and some don’t even have support. like HostGator that offers a basic package for about $5 per month. There is also Bluehost that runs about the same. They both have a great support team and have different hosting options that you can explore to see what fits your needs best. Make sure to check your upgrade options so you get the best value for your growth plan going into the next few years.
You want to have an awesomely unique and catchy logo for your business that captures who you are. You can take a crack at it to save a few bucks if you’re a creative. To get it professionally done, expect to spend from $50-$200. The lower end is if you outsource this, but be sure to hire a reliable designer who has great communications skills.
Again, if you’re a creative, you can get all this done yourself. Just browse the websites of a few competitors to get an idea of what kind of content you need. If you choose to get a professional writer to put all that together, you will spend about $10-$20 per hour. For all the standard pages of about 300-500 words each, expect to spend around $75.
Be wary of fixed-priced proposals for writing or you might end up with pages of generic content that don’t really fit your business. This can hike up your startup expenses if you have to get it all redone professionally. Remember that your business is unique, so you will still have to provide your writer with a ton of information to get the content right. Meet with them to make sure they have what they need to get started. You might want to prepare a draft or some bullet points based on their questions and feedback to make it clear.
Now it’s time to build your website. Having a developer come in and do a custom job can cost thousands of dollars, easy. Don’t worry, you’re not there yet.
There are a lot of drag and drop options out there that almost build themselves. They are inexpensive and you can have a site up and running in a few hours. All you need is your basic content and a few nice stock photos or videos. Be warned that these options are very limiting, though. They can be a good choice if you just want something live that you can direct traffic to in the early stages. Be careful when choosing a provider as well because some of them have hidden fees.
SiteBuilder is a great option for about $5 a month. It’s not the fastest-loading, but it provides great uptime and is very easy to use.
Wix is another popular option. It says free, but it will cost you about $9.25 per month. Speed and usability are good, and uptime is great.
SquareSpace is comparable in performance to Wix, and you can get your domain for free with them. Monthly charges are higher, though, at $18.00.
Weebly costs about $12.00 per month and has great site load time and uptime and a fairly easy to use builder.
BoldGrid is a cheaper option at $4.19 a month, but the load time is slower and the interface is difficult to use for the uninitiated. On the upside, BoldGrid has great uptime and will give you a WordPress site.
Personally, I love WordPress. It’s one of the most flexible platforms out there, and it’s great for SEO. You will want to consider flexibility most of all when you build your website so that you can manage everything easily. Builders will offer that, but they won’t be easy to work with when you want to level up. One of the greatest things about WordPress is that it’s built with SEO in mind. If you have a bit of website know-how, you should try building with WordPress to get better visibility on search engines right from the start.
WordPress itself is free to use, and you can get free themes to load onto your domain and start building with. You can choose to spend up to $200 if you want a nicer theme with more options. You can also wait and upgrade later when you have some income. If you are with a host like Bluehost, you can even use their easy tool to set up WordPress in a few minutes with one click. Hiring a professional developer will increase your startup expenses, but weigh your options and go for it if you see that it will add more value to your launch and business plan moving forward..
Once you have your official business name and papers, you will need to set up your bank account and business credit card. You always want to keep business financials separate from your personal accounts.
You might think that where you set up your account doesn’t matter. It does, and not just in terms of controlling startup expenses. Some banks are just better set up to accommodate small business owners. These banks have certain features on their accounts that you can take advantage of. You might even find one that is offering a promotion on one or more account types.
Bank of America offers renowned online and mobile banking, and small business services and products like credit and investing, cash management, and payroll. Their fees range from $5 to $15 per month for business savings accounts and up to $30 for checking accounts. They do waive fees, though, when certain conditions are met.
They also offer credit options that are specifically designed for small businesses. One option is the Cash Rewards for Business MasterCard®, which offers no annual fee and a cash rewards program, and allows you to get cash back, 1-3% on restaurant, gas station and office supply purchases, $200 statement credit, and 0% introductory APR. Bank of America also has a range of products for businesses like cash management tools. These include Payroll services by Intuit, remote deposits, account management, direct payments and invoicing, and express tax services.
Capital One offers no monthly transaction limits for checking, and no monthly service fees or minimum balances for checking or savings accounts.
Chase offers Spark Pay, a way to accept and process payments on mobile or an e-commerce store. You can use it for inventory management, downloading transactions and reports, issuing customized receipts, and creating personalized promotions or deals across multiple device and users.
This back is also a top provider of credit card solutions. The Spark Miles Rewards card allows you to earn 2x miles for each business purchase, and there’s no annual fee. You can also earn a miles bonus of up to 50,000. The Spark® Cash for Business card offers 2% cash back with Spark Cash plus a $500 cash bonus. One of Capital One’s most attractive business resources is the Spark Business IQ program. It is designed to guide entrepreneurs through business ownership with tips for maximizing finances and cash flow, and creating positive change.
Wells Fargo has savings accounts with monthly fees from $6 to $15 and checking accounts with monthly fees from $15 to $40, but offers ways to avoid these fees. Some accounts have a minimum deposit of $25.
They offer a small business program for credit, merchant services, insurance, and payroll. They have flexible credit card options for managing cash flow. A few are the Business Platinum Card, the Business Secured Credit Card, and the Business Elite Card. Wells Fargo payroll services are diverse, designed for different businesses types.
The Money Map program provides you with cash flow tools to gain more control and better plan for expenses. The Business Spending Report puts business expenses into categories and tracks them. Budget Watch helps you design monthly goals in key categories and compare and track your spending with budget alerts.
Chase of JPMorgan Chase & Co. has steep monthly fees for some accounts – up to $95 on checking – but these fees can be waived as well. Their business savings accounts have a $5 monthly fee and a $25 opening deposit.
Chase’s specific business services include payment processing options and credit cards. They have accounts that take into account the needs of new businesses. One credit card available from Chase is the Chase Ink Business Cash℠ Card with no annual fee. It gives you premium rewards and benefits like a $300 bonus cash back, 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers, and 1-5% annual cash back on purchases at restaurants, gas stations, and office supply stores, and on phone, landline, internet, and cable tv bills, just to name a few.
You can also take advantage of Chase Mobile Banking through the free app for iPad, iPhone, Android or Kindle Fire. A mobile website and text banking is also available. QuickDeposit allows you to scan and deposit checks electronically. Person-to-Person QuickPay sends and receives money to and from anyone, anywhere. If you open a business checking account, you can get a free debit card. Chase Business Debit Cards are great for convenient ATM deposits and withdrawals. They can also be managed online and used to set up recurring bills payments. Chase Business Associate Debit cards can be issued to employees for safe and quick purchases, with daily limits to manage purchases and withdrawals.
There are several other must-haves that you can choose to take care of yourself or have someone else do. A couple of the important ones are customer outreach and building authority and trust. If your initial tally of startup expenses is heavy at this point, consider adjusting other areas before you write these off.
You might want to take this on yourself initially, at least until you get a feel for the flow of it all. If this is an area that you feel you’re really not cut out for, you can consider consulting with an expert to give you some advice. Consultants are pricey, mind you, so it’s better overall to go to the Web first. You can find a ton of free resources there that can help you gain more confidence to start reaching out and building your name.
Social media and your website are great ways to put yourself out there without spending a dime. On your website, develop some really good content that provides value to your targets. On socials, do some research on where your targets spend their time. Develop a presence there by providing real value. Link out to your website content where you see that it can help. Be genuine and avoid spamming people and you can build a following within a few months. You can also use socials in the early stages to reach out to your customers in addition to communicating with them through your website.
Your Startup Expenses
So you’re all set now, and can launch your business with as little as $400, and definitely less than $1000. You are in complete control of most of these startup expenses and can distribute what you have based on your budget.
Domain and Hosting: $6-$40
Logo Creation: $50-$200
Content Creation: $50-$100
Site Build: $0-$20