When you start a business, you expect to pay for certain expenses, the same as you would if you bought a house. No matter how well you prepare for these expenses, some costs surprise you. It could be the electric bill or business insurance premium—whatever it is, it causes you to wince.
Fortunately, you can minimize the shock with the following checklist. It covers the most common business expenses, decreasing the likelihood of unforeseen expenses. It also helps you stay in the green—environmentally and financially.
1. Advertising, Marketing, and Public Relations
If no one knows about your business, no one will buy from it. Advertising, public relations, and marketing expenses are sensible ones to make your brand visible, but the three quickly drain your finances if you’re not careful.
Solution: Always set an advertising and marketing budget. Also identify your target audience so you spend that money well. You want marketing aimed at a specific target, not flung against a wall and serving no purpose.
2. Business Software
Your business grinds to a halt without software because those programs streamline day-to-day processes. Your business requires, at minimum, accounting and project management tools and antivirus software to manage and safeguard information that belongs to your company, your employees, and your clients.
Solution: Software costs can become a pain point, so purchase slowly. Use free trials before committing to anything. Also rely on free software when possible. Basic social media and project management tools are often free, but some programs charge a fee once you reach a certain number of subscribers or social channels.
3. Cleaning Services and Supplies
Maintaining a clean office environment can improve employee morale and attract, rather than repel, buyers. But the cost of cleaning services and supplies can siphon your budget if you’re not careful.
Solution: Consider cleaning your own space instead of hiring a cleaning service. Also think about making your own cleaning supplies. Doing so not only decreases costs but also confirms your commitment to a sustainable workplace.
4. Electricity and Other Utilities
Many costs will surprise you in your first and second year of business. The biggest shock, though, may come from your energy usage. When you have employees in the building five to seven days a week (and they’re all working on energy-reliant equipment), your costs will go up.
Solution: Keep utility costs containable by going smart. Invest in smart thermostats, lightbulbs, and motion sensors to prevent spikes in energy use. Also, compare electricity providers. In some states, there are better energy provider options, so renewable energy can be a much more affordable (and planet saving) choice.
Many workplaces provide healthy food and drinks for employees. You may want to follow the trend to capture attention when recruiting or retaining employees. Offering healthy food options could award other benefits, too, such as enhanced employee health and productivity.
Solution: Buy in bulk, if possible, to keep costs in check. Also seek food and drink partners in your local community. You could receive a discount as a preferred customer, or, if nothing else, get some free samples to share around the office.
When you start a business, you need to purchase at least two types of insurance: business and health. The first protects you against liability claims. The second complies with federal regulations.
Solution: Always work with an insurance agent to guarantee adequate coverage. It’s easy to end up with excess or inadequate coverage and pay too much or too little for what you have. Let a professional guide you through the terms and conditions. It’ll put your mind and budget at ease.
7. Office Equipment and Supplies
You will likely spend more time at work than anywhere else, so make it a place you and your employees enjoy coming to. Furnish it with the best technology, comfortable furniture, and necessary office supplies. Some of those purchases will last several years or more; others will need to be replenished on a monthly, quarterly, or annual basis.
Solution: The “best” technology and “comfortable” furniture doesn’t mean buying new. Refurbished equipment can be just as good as the latest product, and consigned furniture can save you money. For office supplies, try to buy in bulk from eco-friendly providers.
You may benefit from having an office two-miles away from home. Even if you do, some of your employees probably have to commute ten miles or more every day. Think about that expense as well as the cost associated with transporting your goods around the country.
Solution: Depending on your line of business, you could offer telecommuting positions or remote work opportunities. Doing so reduces transportation expenses and carbon footprints. For shipping and logistics, work with companies dedicated to renewable energy and smart shipping solutions.
As a business-owner, you aim to keep business costs and environmental impact low. The eight items outlined here can help you meet that goal, improving your triple bottom line. They can also provide other advantages, such as simplified processes, enhanced productivity, and increased workplace satisfaction, to help your business stay successful.
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