Business finances are the crux of all companies and the main reason people fail, and businesses go out of business. Everyone wants to make money, but not everyone knows how to do it successfully.
“A fool and his money are easily parted.”
If you don’t want to be that fool and have your business go down the drain due to poor financial decisions, then you need to be on top of your finances at all times. You also need to know exactly where all of your money is going unless you want to end up as one of the 82% of businesses that fail due to poor cash flow and bad financial planning that is.
It can be all too easy to focus on the big things, such as your rent/mortgage, paying employees, suppliers, marketing and investments in innovation and even kitting out your new location with fittings and fixtures. Still, generally speaking, it is the small bills that add up and put a dent in your profits. Those little details that you overlook and don’t realise are eating away at your finances and can end up doing serious damage to your profits before you even realise this.
Finding out exactly what these costs are and where they fit into your business is vital to ensure you are able to factor them in and ensure every cent is accounted for. To do this, you need to conduct an internal review or audit of your finances and know exactly what is coming in, what is going out, and what you are overlooking.
This post is going to take a look at some of the most commonly overlooked but essential expenses that are commonly overlooked.
You need insurance; there are no two ways about that, but have you factored this into your budget, and if not, why not? As a minimum, you need general liability insurance, and anything else will depend on your state’s legal requirements for insurance and the type of business you run. Some of the different insurance premiums you can expect to have to pay out include the following;
- Contents insurance
- Building insurance
- Professional liability insurance
- Business income coverage
- Product liability insurance
- Commercial property insurance
- Commercial auto insurance
- Workers Compensation
- Health insurance
- Business interruption insurance
- Cyber insurance and many more.
As you can see, the types of premiums you need can add up, and these need to be accounted for when budgeting for your expenses, especially if you require multiple insurances or your state requires a certain number of different policies for your business.
If you are selling products, you need to remember that packing materials for shipments or printed carrier bags for your customers to take purchases away will add up. If you are using these materials on a regular basis, then they are an expense that needs to be accounted for, so you can forecast changes in costs from supplies, an increase in demand due to a higher volume of sales, or changes in how you package items for delivery for example. Get some quotes, and see how you can ensure this doesn’t become overlooked, and you know exactly how much you are spending on packing costs.
There are multiple licensing fees you need to consider. Firstly, the state or government can apply different licensing fee schedules depending on your trading location. Then there are licensing fees depending on your industry and what you do.
Let’s start with the US State business license; this can set you back anywhere from $50 to $500 depending on the type of license you need; in California, for example, they are generally between $50 and $100. However, if you plan to trade in all 50 states, you need a license for each one, and even at $50 per state, this will set you back $2,500. You then need to look at any professional fees or industries you might need to pay for or join to practice what you do, such as if you are a doctor or dentist, accountant, hair stylist, and so on. Or you may need a license to sell food or alcohol on your premises, to hold weddings, for example, or concerts, or carry out body modifications such as piercings or tattoos.
These are fees you need to pay out to get third parties to come and help you with different aspects of your business. It can be bringing a business mentor on board to help you avoid mistakes and learn the ropes, it can be using outsourcing partners or VA instead of hiring a team, or it can be using an account to do your taxes. Whoever you see needs to be factored into your outgoings so you can ensure the funds are available and you aren’t overlooking this area. Whether it’s a one-off cost or you pay a regular set amount, such as a marketing company to handle all of your marketing needs, or you use a cleaning company to ensure your office building is spotless each night, don’t overlook these bills as this can impact your bottom line.
Your business will need technology in some form, and you need to be sure you have the budget available to meet the technological needs to run the business as you need to. From till points and self-service collection points for retail, order systems for restaurants for automatic processing of orders from servers to the kitchen, to needing laptops for all employees to work remotely or on the go, cell phones, data entry software, and even automated machinery and equipment you can control from a central location. Technology makes life easier, reduces costs, and can be essential to every single business. But have you missed these off your spending projections? Have you accounted for servicing, upgrades, repairs, and maintenance costs? Do you know how much it will cost you to replace your equipment once it becomes outdated or obsolete? Find out and ensure you have funds you can access for this reason to keep you up and running.
If you have employees working for you, you need to think about the type of rewards you will offer, benefits of wiring for you, perks and bonuses, well-paid time off, parental leave, and more. From offering health insurance, dental, and the legally required workers’ compensation packages to team building, retreats, supplying food and drink in the office, safety equipment uniforms, wellness programs, paid vacation time, and more, the last thing you want to do is alienate your employees by withdrawing perks they want and look forward to simply because you didn’t account for the expense it would bring. Sit down and look at the packages you have on the table regarding your employees, how much the maximum cost is annually, and how you can ensure this is covered financially.
Utilities are part and parcel of operating a business. Even if you work from your sofa with a laptop on your knee. You still need to consider the internet connection and electricity you will use. Again, these costs can be substantial for more extensive operations, especially if you have a large warehouse, office building, or retail store. Your equipment will consume copious amounts of energy, from heating and cooling bills to lighting, powering equipment, water costs, etc. You cannot reasonably expect not to use utilities, but you can shop around for the best deal from suppliers in your area to ensure you can keep your bills down and lower your usage day to day.
You need to be paying yourself a wage from day one. It might only be enough to cover reasonable living expenses or to compensate you for a salary you might have given up to open your own business, but whatever amount you settle on, you shouldn’t overlook paying yourself. It can be easy to think you will do it when you are making enough money, but this can be a tricky spot to climb back out of, and you cannot expect to keep going and not be bringing in a living wage. Determine how much you need to pay your bills, and ensure you pay yourself this much. You can increase this as your business takes off and you earn more, but in the early stages, the act of paying yourself is a habit you need to make sure you are carrying out.
When it comes to setting up and running your business, it goes without saying that there will likely be a mountain of expenses you need to consider and be aware of that will eat into your budget. Many of you will be mindful of this from the get-go; however, some, like the ones mentioned in this post, can be overlooked and catch you out regarding your day-to-day operations. Having contingency funds can support you when this happens, as can thorough financial planning and working with a financial or business advisor who can give you their expertise and ensure you haven’t missed anything.
Sit down, take your time, plan out your finances, and ensure nothing gets left to chance so you don’t get any nasty financial surprises you weren’t expecting.