6 Startling Startup Costs - And How To Simplify!
So you're thinking about starting your own business. Let me tell you, working for yourself is awesome. Having control over your own schedule. Making your own rules. Hiring your own team. And reaping the fiscal benefits. It'll be a good move--trust me! If you feel like you're ready to take the plunge, you're probably wondering how much it's going to cost you. Here's a bit of a rundown. Every business is going to be a little different of course, but these are the bare bones you're going to need first and foremost.
#1 Big Idea
First things first, you need to figure out what you're going to do. This should be one part what you're good at, one part what you enjoy doing, and a third part, what there's a demand for. You'll want to consider how this business is going to impact your lifestyle, and if you're okay with that. Do you want to run an all-consuming, multi-million dollar conglomerate that sends you to high profile speaking engagements around the world and requires investors and a board of directors and a huge staff? Or do you want to create a family business that allows you to be home with your kids and enjoy more free time?
You'll also want to do some research and figure out if there's a market for whatever you intend to offer. Are there competitors in the space? How many? (You want to see some proof of concept but you may not want to enter a saturated market--that's hard!). Are people willing to pay for your product or service?
Cost: FREE - but remember, time is money, and we do suggest you spend ample time doing your research and thinking this one through to make sure you get it right.
#2 Business Name
Put your creativity pants on and start brainstorming! We recommend selecting a few key people to be in the room with you--think about those that you trust, those that know business, marketers, or people who know the industry or target market--and put up a whiteboard. Your business name is going to stick with you forever, so take it as seriously as you do when naming your children. Once you select your ideal name, you need to make sure you can own it. You'll need to do a search with your local business registry to make sure no one else is using it and register it as your own (we didn't add the cost of a lawsuit to this list, so be careful!). You should also consider taking this one step further and paying to trademark your business name. (This isn't always necessary for smaller businesses, but be sure you do your research and are aware of the potential repercussions if you don't.) And finally, you'll want to purchase an applicable domain name. But more on that later....
Cost: $40 for registration in BC (this varies province to province) + $450 to trademark (not including legal fees that might be required to help you do this)
#3 Marketing Strategy
Marketing is a vital part of starting your business--you need to get your business in front of the right people at the right time, for the right price. Now, you can hire a marketing professional full-time, or you can outsource fully to an agency, but if you're starting off small and are motivated to keep your costs low, you can do a lot of this yourself. There are lots of traditional marketing mediums you could try--billboards, TV, print--but all of these are expensive. With the dawn of social media, things have changed. It's easier than ever to reach and engage with your target audience. "The reason that billboard and bus ads used to work, is that we all walked around looking up. Now-a-days, everyone's looking down, staring at the phone in their hands. So how do you get in front of them there?" Social media marketing is affordable and with all the tools out there to help you manage, it's reasonable for you to handle on your own. If that's your plan, you're going to want to make sure you're doing this right. You will need a customized strategy to ensure your target market and brand tone are defined, and you know how to strategically execute on specific platforms with specific types of content that will work.
Cost: $299 for a custom Social Media Strategy
#4 Professional Headshots
If you want others to take you seriously, you need to present yourself appropriately. A bathroom selfie is not going to cut it in press releases, speaker profiles, your website or your LinkedIn profile photo. It's time to up your game! Hiring a professional photographer to shoot some sleek and impressive headshots of you is a must as you get started.