Common Start-Up Expenses of Small Businesses

September 23, 2012 | By | Reply More

raise money The first time you go through the costs to start up your new business, you do not need to be particularly precise. You can just “ball park” the amount to get a rough idea of your expected start-up costs. As you refine your business idea and shop around for the various items you need to make it happen, you will be continually narrowing down your estimates, and eventually you’ll arrive at the actual dollar figures.

Here are the common kinds of start-up expenses that most small businesses face:

Research and development costs

Whether you hire a market research firm or do research by yourself, you need to budget for costs involved in knowing more about your market. Interviewing potential customers or suppliers, checking the Yellow Pages, or photocopying trade publications and articles about your business all involve costs.
>> RELATED: Cost of Opening a Retail Store

Business Plan Preparation

If you are preparing your business plan yourself, the only cost to you is your time. However, there are entrepreneurs who need help in developing their business plans. If you are one of those business owners, you need to input the costs of hiring consultants or business plan writers into your initial budget.

Product Development and Beginning Inventory

This will be your most significant start-up cost. To get a better estimate, you can ask potential suppliers for required inventory levels for your type of business. Some entrepreneurs, particularly those who create their own products, take years of product development before a prototype can be launched. You need to factor in the length of time that will take you to develop your first products.

Advertising and Marketing Promotion Expenses

You can chose to have some ‘buzz’ for your business, even before you officially open. Some entrepreneurs do a pre-launch campaign to generate interest for their products or services. You can also plan for a “grand opening” promotion as well. The cost, of course, will depend on how simple or elaborate your pre-launch activities will be.


This refers to the amount of cash that you need to run your cash register. One thing that your business should never be caught without is cash.

Cost of Financing. You also need to allocate some funds to help you cover your cost of financing, whether you got your funds from the bank or from your credit card. Be prepared to pay the interests of your loans, particularly if you used your credit cards to finance your business.

Remodeling and Decorating

This will include physical and cosmetic improvements to the new business facility. Solicit bids from contractors or interior designers, even if you decide to do everything later on, to give you an idea of how much these jobs cost.

Fixtures and Equipment

The fixtures and equipment needed for your new business are normally substantial, depending on your kind of business. A restaurant business, for example, will need modern kitchen equipment, chairs and tables, tableware and utensils. On the other hand, a home business will require significantly less in terms of fixtures and equipment. Computers, fax machines, modems are some of the most important equipment that you would need. In addition, you should provide some budget for the costs of installing all the fixtures and equipment and making sure that these are ready for use.

Hiring employees

Allocate a few months’ salary for the payroll of your new employees. While employee costs will not actually start until you are open for business, some entrepreneurs hire a few employees even before the business is launched to help in the initial groundwork.

Insurance Costs

You will need liability and property insurance to protect yourself and any business assets. Some other businesses also require workers’ compensation, health, life, fire, product liability and professional malpractice insurance. Check what you need for the kind of your business.

Lease Payments

These include amounts that must be paid for equipment and facility leases before opening. Expect to pay several months’ worth of lease payments even before you open your doors for business.
>> RELATED: Cost and Expenses of Starting a Shoe Retail Store Business

Licenses and Permits

This amount will include all fees charged by the local, state and federal agencies. The more regulated your industry, the higher the fees and charges. Various states also have a different licensing requirements and fee structure. If your business is based in California, for example, expect to spend for putting a legal announcement in the newspaper to announce your new business. In Virginia, there are no such requirements.

Professional Fees

You will probably need the assistance of a lawyer in drawing up the proper documents and filing them with the state if you are forming a partnership, Limited Liability Company or corporation. You can opt to incorporate your own business yourself, as long as you understand each form and requirements. Part of the professional fees you need to budget include the accountant’s fees, should you decide to outsource your record keeping or accounting tasks.

Signage costs

The signs for your business establishment can leave a significant dent on your budget. Obtain bids from sign companies, depending on how elaborate you plan your signs to be.


This is the part of your budget for all the office, cleaning and employee supplies that your business needs in its first few months. To help you save, try buying wholesale if you can meet the minimum order requirements.

Cost of Web Site creation

If you are planning to supplement your brick-and-mortar business with online operations, you need to budget for the costs of creating a web site. These include web-hosting fees, web designer, e-commerce components (shopping cart, merchant account, etc). You also need to allocate some amount to cover the marketing and promotion expenses of your online business.

Unanticipated expenses

The rule of thumb is to allocate about 10 percent of your total start-up budget for contingencies and other unexpected expenses.



Jenny Fulbright

Jenny Fulbright

Jenny Fulbright is a writer for

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Category: Startup Expenses

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