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Small Business Start Up Costs: How Deep Are Your Pockets?

One of the challenges of planning and getting a new business off the ground is to establish what your start up costs are going to be. At best, it’s going to be a stab in the dark or a wild guess, but there are some specific steps you can take to make your costings more realistic. Why Estimate Your Costs? But, before we look at where you can get help, we should consider why you need to get your estimate of start up costs to be as close to reality as possible. Firstly, if you are seeking bank finance the dreaded Business Plan is required! The Bank Manager is not going to be impressed by a comment such as, “I think my start up costs are going to be around £10,000 but hey, who knows!” Secondly, you need to go into any new venture with your eyes open. You have to be as sure as you can on how much it’s going to cost to get your new business started. There is nothing worse than getting 90% of the way there, only to fall at the last hurdle because you didn’t cater for one major expense.

Lastly, as a start up you are likely to only have a limited pot of money available. You have to prioritise which costs are essential and which can be delayed until the business is more established. You can only do this if you have researched and understand what your costs are going to be. Where Can You Go For Help? It’s easy to think that you have a good idea of what your start up costs are likely to be, but do you really? Once you think about it, a whole can of worms starts to open! But there are sources of help you can turn to, which will ensure that you don’t face oblivion within the first few weeks. A good starting point is your country’s government support and business advice agency.

These are government funded organisations which are there to provide free and impartial advice on all aspects of running a business. Call and book an appointment to see an advisor. They will have a wide range of material and experience which will give you a good grounding in the costs you will have to cover. The service is usually free, so that’s one cost you won’t have to worry about! Chamber of Commerce or Local Business Club/Group If you have a local arm of the Chamber of Commerce or any formal or informal business group, then they are a good source of knowledge and information. Within the group you will find a wealth of experience and people who have been through it all – good times and bad times! You may be lucky enough to attend a meeting when a speaker is there on just the topic you are looking for. Colleagues and Other Business Owners If you don’t have a club or group you can attend, then seek out business people yourself. Ask all your contacts to tell you about their start up experiences. What costs they budgeted for; what costs they didn’t budget for; where they overspent. Genuine business people are usually happy to share their experiences and give you advice. Listen to what they have to say and take note.

If you don’t have a circle of business contacts, put the word out to all your personal friends. A few of them will have friends or relatives who are in business on their own. Ask for an introduction or referral. This will ‘warm’ them up before you ask your searching questions. Bank Business Guides Many Banks provide comprehensive brochures on starting up in business. They usually contain a Business Plan template which will include a section on start up costs. Some go further and produce guides for specific industries and sectors. They provide in depth analysis about the business, the market, the competition and estimated start up costs. Call in to your local Bank and ask to see the Small Business Manager/Advisor. Suppliers If you are looking to cost your raw materials or partly finished stock for buy in then, as a key part of your financing, call your potential suppliers and ask for quotations.

Tell them that you are starting up and they should be more than helpful, after all you could be a potential customer! Examples of Start Up Costs If you haven’t got the time to try any of the above (and there’s no reason why you shouldn’t find some time!) here are some of the key costs you will have to cover: • Equipment • Fixtures and fittings • Installation • Initial stock • Advertising • Decoration • Legal and other professional fees • Licenses • Specialised computer software • Up front rental payment • Initial cash float • Cash to cover trading for the first month or two until the payments start rolling in The list is by no means exhaustive but it will provide you with the first step to finding out how much it will cost you to start up. Who Said It Was Going To Be Easy? Getting a new business off the ground is difficult enough, even if you fully understand what it’s going to cost you. Doing it with no idea is not a recipe for success. Devote some time to this exercise and you will be amply rewarded.


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