The First 5 Expenses When Launching A New Business
Starting a business is super exciting. You have an idea, you have researched the marketing and confirmed a need for it, and you are ready to get going.
Ok, now what?
Well depending on who you talk to, the list of “top things you need to start a business” could vary widely. As a marketing consultant who helps businesses get branded and set up online, one might expect me to say, “Start with your brand” followed by “get a website up and running”.
However, I actually think there are a few other expenses that are more important on Day One, particularly if you’re a bit short on capital.
Here are the top 5 expenses I had when taking DCM from a side hustle to full time.
1. Legal fees.
As past clients will tell you, my BIGGEST piece of business advice: Get that sh*t in writing. You are betting your entire lifestyle and livelihood on this idea so protect it.
That means ensuring it’s legally upset correctly insofar as:
- Registering business name with your state
- Getting an EIN (federal employer identification number for taxes)
- Contracts and/or Terms of Service
It is 100% worth the attorney fees up front to get this done correctly. I hope you never have to enforce your contract and everyone you work with fits your ideal client persona, pays quickly and smiles with happiness at your work like you just gave them a puppy who never barks and smells like brownies and sunshine.
However, that is likely not the case and you need to protect yourself.
Ev-er-y-one gets a contract from the stranger who finds you on the internet to the bst friend you’ve had since you were 11 years old. Everyone.
It’s not personal, it is your business and that is worth safeguarding.
2. New business cards.
Sounds simple, but it’s super necessary. (And yes, business cards are still used even post-pandemic.)
It’s fine if you haven’t solidified your logo yet. Use this as a calling card with your name, email and phone number.
The point is to have something out there with your contact info for all of the networking you are about to do, which leads me to my next point.
3. Event Tickets.
When I decided to go full time with DCM, I knew that I needed to be able to answer the question, “Why would someone hire me over any of the more well-known marketing agencies in Washington DC?”
The answer: Because I know events. The event industry in particular.
So I decided to focus on serving event professionals, which meant showing up where they are. At the time, that meant getting tickets to the monthly networking events for their associations: International Live Events Association, Meeting Professionals International and National Association of Catering Executives.
This held true when I expanded my clientele to small business owners of any industry. I joined a BNI Chapter, showed up each week, gave my 60-second presentation/ask, and business came as a result of the relationships I built there.
Just like Aaron Burr in Hamilton…
Sounds a bit archaic to some, but I found the way for me to work the most efficiently and stay organized meant printing out my project plans for each client. This allowed me to clearly see how many clients I was servicing at a time, what needed to be done AND the satisfaction that comes with crossing it off.
Even if you have been in the professional world for decades, getting your systems in place and really finding your footing as an entrepreneur can take time. You go from promoting someone else’s products/ideas one day to needing to sell IDEAS in your head, not tangible items.
That means you need all the tricks you can to keep yourself focused, confident in what you offer.
This simple technique really helped me establish that.
5. Networking expenses.
Beyond the event tickets, I needed to get 1-1 meetings with the people I met and/or the existing network I had to generate leads & referrals.
Since I didn’t have an office that meant lunches, coffee dates and happy hours to do some market research and confirm what I thought event pros struggled with is actually what they needed help to execute. Then I could work on how to show them that my ideas are the solution to their problem.
Now you tell me…
What are the best (or worst) investments you made when starting out? Or starting over?