Don't Break the Bank: 30 Sometimes-Overlooked Expenses Small Business Owners Should Budget For
Oct 31, 2023
Pulse check: When was the last time you took a look at your expenses? We mean, really look at them. Line by line. Item by item. We’re talkin’ getting up-close-and-personal with the final destination of every dollar and cent that’s passed through your business.
Would any of those expenses surprise you?
Whether you’re just starting out (or have been in the game for a few years), running a small business has its fair share of financial challenges. In the daily hustle and bustle to keep the metaphorical boat from sinking, it's easy to forget about certain expenses that might sneak up on you.
To keep your finances in check and prevent any nasty surprises down the road, it's essential to create a comprehensive budget. To help you out, we’ve highlighted 30 sometimes-overlooked expenses that small business owners should account for.
- Taxes and Licenses: Be sure to set aside funds for business licenses, state and local taxes, and any industry-specific permits.
- Insurance Premiums: Insurance is a must to protect your business from unforeseen events. Remember to budget for property insurance, liability insurance, and any other coverage relevant to your business.
- Website Maintenance: If your business relies on a website, regular maintenance, security updates, and hosting fees can add up. Make sure to include these costs in your budget.
- Marketing and Advertising: Marketing expenses often extend beyond your initial campaign—budget for ongoing marketing efforts, such as social media ads, email marketing, and content creation.
- Office Supplies: Pens, paper, printer ink, and other office supplies seem like small potatoes, but they’re essential for your day-to-day operations and, most of all…can add up very quickly.
- Utilities: Don't forget to factor in costs like electricity, water, and internet for your workspace.
- Professional Services: If you require legal, accounting, or consulting services, make sure to allocate funds for professional fees in your budget. Staying compliant with regulations often involves additional costs—budget for any compliance-related expenses specific to your industry.
- Travel Expenses: If your business involves traveling for meetings or events, account for transportation, accommodation, and meal expenses.
- Technology Upgrades: Technology is ever-evolving, and your business might require software or hardware updates—budget for new equipment and software licenses.
- Credit Card Processing Fees and Bank Fees: Transaction fees for credit card payments can eat into your revenue. Include these costs when creating your budget, along with monthly bank charges or any fees associated with your business bank account.
- Maintenance and Repairs: Equipment and vehicle maintenance and unexpected repairs can be significant expenses that often catch business owners off guard.
- Employee Benefits: If you have employees, remember to budget for benefits such as health insurance, retirement plans, and paid time off.
- Inventory Storage Costs: If you're in retail or e-commerce, warehousing and storage costs can accumulate, especially during peak seasons.
- Inventory Shrinkage: Theft, spoilage, or inaccuracies in tracking can lead to inventory shrinkage. Include this in your budget to maintain accurate inventory levels.
- Unforeseen Contingencies: Set aside a portion of your budget for unexpected emergencies or opportunities. Having a financial cushion can save your business in times of crisis or enable you to seize unexpected opportunities.
- Employee Training: Budget for training programs and resources to keep your team up to date with industry standards and best practices.
- Software Subscriptions: Many businesses rely on software tools for various tasks. Don't forget to include subscription fees for software like accounting, customer relationship management (CRM), and project management tools.
- Maintenance Contracts: If you have equipment, machinery, or software covered by maintenance contracts, allocate funds for these recurring fees.
- Maintenance of Intellectual Property: If your business relies on trademarks, patents, or copyrights, consider the expenses associated with maintaining and protecting these assets.
- Customer Returns and Refunds: If you have a return policy, account for the potential costs associated with returns and refunds, including product replacement and shipping expenses.
- Product Packaging: Packaging materials, such as boxes, labels, and branding materials, can sometimes be an afterthought, but they're integral to your business operations.
- Interest on Loans: If you have loans or lines of credit, account for the interest payments in your budget.
- Rent Escalation: If you're leasing a commercial space, be prepared for potential rent increases as your lease terms change.
- Marketing Collateral: Beyond digital marketing, physical marketing collateral like brochures, business cards, and signage may be necessary expenses.
- Credit Reporting Services: For businesses that extend credit to customers, consider costs associated with credit checks and reporting services.
- Membership Fees: If you belong to industry associations, clubs, or networking groups, don't forget to include annual membership fees.
- Bankruptcy or Liability Insurance: Depending on your industry, insurance to protect against customer bankruptcy or liability claims may be needed.
- Employee Turnover Costs: The process of hiring and training new employees can be expensive. Include recruitment fees and training expenses in your budget.
- Energy-Efficiency Upgrades: Investing in energy-efficient equipment or practices may result in long-term savings but requires an initial budget allocation.
- R&D and Innovation: If your business relies on innovation or research and development, allocate funds for research costs and prototyping.
By accounting for these sometimes-overlooked expenses, you'll be better prepared to face the challenges and uncertainties that come with entrepreneurship. Remember that a well-planned budget is not static; it should evolve as your business grows and changes.