How much does it cost to start a business? Our guide breaks down the expenses you need to keep in mind for your calculations.
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As an aspiring business owner, you’re going to need money. But how much money do you need to start a business?
While this answer varies depending on the industry you plan to enter, we can offer you some examples and give you a better idea of how much it costs to start a business.
How Much Does It Cost To Start A Business?
According to dropshipping directory Oberlo, home-based small businesses that require little to no equipment can cost less than $1,000 to start.
Opening a business that requires more equipment and even dedicated office space, such as starting a coffee shop, could cost upwards of $100,000 to get off the ground.
According to Small Business Trends, the average cost falls between a $30,000 and $40,000 initial startup investment.
There aren’t a lot of official figures on starting a business because situations and industries vary so greatly, but you can check out the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Startup Cost Calculator after you’ve read our article to get a more exact estimate.
Common Small Business Expenses
|Business Licenses & Permits
|Equipment & Supplies
|Office Space & Utilities
||$5,000 initially, then $2,000 monthly
||$700 initially, then $200 monthly
|Professional Services (legal services)
|Total estimated cost: $28,200
We’ll break down some of these costs below.
Business Licenses & Permits
As a new business owner, you will need to register your business in your state and apply for a local business license/permit in your city or county. Depending on your industry, you may also need to obtain an industry-specific business permit. These initial business registration costs are usually minimal (less than $500).
Equipment & Supplies
All businesses require some sort of equipment or supplies. Examples of equipment and supplies your business may need, include:
- Restaurant kitchen equipment
- Office furniture
- Office supplies
- Business vehicle(s)
- Medical equipment and supplies
- Product manufacturing equipment
- Point of sale equipment (cash register, credit card reader, etc.)
The type of equipment and other materials you need to run your business really depends on your industry.
If you’re starting a wedding planner business, you’ll probably just need a computer and office supplies, whereas a trucking company will need commercial vehicles, GPS equipment, etc.
Office Space & Utilities
If you need to rent or buy an office space, this will be a significant ongoing expense and a big startup cost too, as you will need to pay a security deposit, first and last month’s rent, etc.
Internet, gas and electricity, a business phone, and data plans will also factor into the infrastructure costs of your office space. Most businesses start out as home-based or rent a business space initially instead of purchasing or building property.
If you sell a physical product, you need a certain amount of inventory to start out with (and have on-hand on an ongoing basis).
Retail stores need a certain number of finished products on hand, while food-based businesses, such as food truck businesses, for example, need to stock up on raw ingredients before they can open up shop. This, of course, does not apply to information/service-based businesses, such as consulting businesses.
You may or may not start your business with any employees. But if you do hire employees, you need to consider the following:
In this day and age, you can no longer rely just on traditional methods of marketing like business cards, signage, physical ads, etc. You’re going to have to add digital marketing to your overall strategies like Search Engine Optimization (SEO), social media marketing, and an easy-to-use website.
At the very least, you need to have a website with a professional and easy-to-recognize domain name and a social media presence.
Some different types of business software you might need to launch and run your business include:
In addition to software, don’t forget to factor in the cost of the associated hardware you’ll need to run the software into your equipment costs.
For example, most businesses will need point of sale equipment, a laptop or iPad, a wireless router, etc. For very small businesses requiring only a basic app to take payments, it’s possible that the only hardware you might need is your smartphone.
This category can include legal fees, consultancy fees, CPA or accountant fees, and fees for any other professional services you use to help launch your business. While some businesses require minimal professional services, most businesses should at least consult a lawyer and/or professional accountant during the startup phase.
You’ll more than likely find out that there are more startup costs than you initially anticipated. It’s important to set aside a certain amount of your budget for miscellaneous expenses that will inevitably come up.
Some of these expenses can include:
- Organizational dues
- Travel costs
- Shipping fees
- Loan interest
- Credit card processing fees (once you start making sales)
Of course, you’ll also need to make sure you have enough money to support yourself before your business becomes profitable, so make sure this cost is included as well.
How To Calculate Startup Costs
The SBA has a very useful startup cost worksheet that outlines common business startup costs with sample figures that you can personalize to calculate the true cost of starting your business. Simply enter the estimated cost for each category (rent, utilities, inventory, employees, etc.), and you’ll be able to get a rough estimate of how much money you might need for your initial investment.
When making your one-page business plan, the absolute first step you must take when starting a business, you’ll need to make a sales forecast. This will be an estimate of how much you’ll sell in the first 6-12 months of opening your business. An idea of future revenue will help you determine what you can spend on expenses like payroll and inventory.
If the total seems too high, look for areas where you can cut costs. Could you operate out of your home to start? Could you subcontract workers instead of hiring permanent employees? Could you use dropshipping to deliver goods to customers?
Once you have a good idea of how much startup capital you might need for your first 6-12 months in business, you can decide how you will finance your venture.
How To Fund Your Small Business
Startup funding can be difficult to get from a traditional bank, especially if you don’t have any significant assets or previous experience owning a business. However, that doesn’t mean you don’t have any options.
Online technology has actually made it a lot easier to find small business funding. Here are some options you might try to finance your business.
Business Credit Cards
If you only need a few thousand dollars to get your business started, you may consider a business credit card. These are great options if you want access to credit almost immediately so that you can spend on anything you need for your business. Read our article to find out the best business credit cards we recommend.
If your main startup expense is the equipment you’ll need to run your business then you can simply finance the equipment itself in the form of an equipment loan or lease. Similar to automotive financing, equipment financing involves monthly payments (either to lease or own) and does not typically require good credit or any collateral other than the equipment itself.
Learn more about equipment loans and leases.
Tax-Deductible Startup Costs
If you’re feeling overwhelmed with the initial startup investment, it might help you to know that if your startup costs are $50,000 or less, you can write off up to $10,000 of those costs on your taxes.
Business loan interest is, in fact, a deductible expense included in this category.
This applies to the year that you start the business and includes up to $5,000 in business startup costs and $5,000 in organizational expenses (legal fees, state incorporation fees, etc.).
If your startup costs exceed $50,000, your tax-deductible expenses will be reduced by that dollar amount. If your startup costs are more than $55,000, you are unfortunately not eligible for this deduction.
Certain expenses are not tax deductible. Some examples include:
- Cost of doing business in your industry, like real estate licensing costs
- Business assets that are one-time expenditures like vehicles or equipment
These may be deductible in a different category like amortization.
How Much Money Do I Need To Start A Business? FAQs
How much money should I have before starting a business?
You will need anywhere from $1,000 – $100,000 before you start your business, depending on your industry, location, and business plan.
Can I start a business with 500 dollars?
Yes, you can start a business with $500! Some home-based businesses like dropshipping may only cost $500 in total to start, and there are plenty of options out there if you need to seek extra funding.
How much should I pay myself first small business?
As a first time small business owner, your personal salary will vary greatly. Experts recommend basing your salary off of your businesses’ annual profit and ensuring that it is no more than 50% of that total number.
What is the easiest business to start?
The easiest business to start is going to be the one you find the easiest! Trust us, it’s the truth! Check out our article on side hustles you can start from home to get some ideas.