It is always important to plan for the expenses that you will incur running your business. Many of these are easy to remember such as rent or payroll and we build these into financial plans and budgets and set aside the money to cover them.
Unfortunately, there are also expenses that are overlooked and not planned for. These can be very costly and the results can be serious. However, you can avoid several of them.
There are legal expenses that are part of standard business operations at each stage. For instance, a new business must pay the costs and fees associated with the registration or incorporation of the company.
Ongoing expenses are often associated with the negotiating or drawing up of contracts or business documents. These may include leases, employment contracts, agreements or partnership documents, or other operational items such as terms of payment or service.
Some businesses are unfortunate enough to fall foul of lawsuits and awards and settlement costs can be high. Planning for this eventuality involves obtaining the most appropriate and affordable liability insurance. Failing to secure this protection can have serious consequences.
Find out what lawyers and premiums cost and include these expenses in your budget and financial planning.
Technology plays a significant role in the life and success of businesses today. While there are numerous aspects, some key ones that can cost more than anticipated are:
- Website: Having an effective website is essential for most businesses regardless of what product or service they offer. There are initial costs such as having your site professionally designed, domain registration and hosting fees. There are also ongoing costs including hosting, maintenance, tools and plugins.
- Tools: Working from home or differently during the pandemic has highlighted business tools more than before. In addition to facilities like cloud storage and conference calls which many have used for some time, virtual and video calls and meetings have become important for many of us. While much of this is free-to-use, others carry costs.
- Hardware: You and your staff probably use laptops, desktops, printers, smart phones, etc to do your jobs and stay in touch. Many of these carry monthly costs. In addition, unexpected repairs or replacements can make a hole in your budget.
- Tech support: Few small businesses can afford a full-time, dedicated IT staff member. For those that cannot, it is necessary to budget for the fees you will need to pay to outsource this work.
Equipment aside, your business may have other equipment and assets, including premises that you own, that require maintenance, repairs, upgrades.
No matter how careful you and your staff are, wear and tear are inevitable. Buildings, vehicles, furniture, etc. will all require either repairs, updates, upgrades, or replacements. In addition to the (sometimes considerable) associated expenses, not being able to use items that are being fixed or serviced costs a business in terms of lost productivity and business.
You should include maintenance, servicing and upgrade costs in your budget and plans. Include these important assessments and activities in your overall plan and schedule for your company. Staying on top of the condition of premises and equipment will save money and other business-related consequences in the long run.
When we consider staff-related expenses we often think of payroll, insurance, taxes, and the cost of perks such as refreshments. However, we often overlook the cost of hiring and training new staff. Even if you have no plans to hire additional staff there is the chance that an existing staff member may leave and you will need to replace him or her.
If you use an agency, they charge fees for finding suitable applicants. If you handle recruitment yourself, you may have to pay for advertising and then there is your time away from what you normally do to interview and screen. If training will not be in-house that is a further expense. Also, there is the indirect cost of lost productivity while a new employee gets up to speed on the job.
Ideally, we want to create an environment and corporate culture that means staff want to stay. However, it is wise to build recruitment-related expenses into your budget and plan just in case.
Not all businesses have to deal with the cost of travel, hotels, and meals. It may be that you and your staff do not need to travel for business purposes or pay for clients to visit you. However, it is not just about long-distance and overnight journeys. What about fuel costs for visiting clients or suppliers? Sales and service staff especially can clock up a lot of kilometres fast. Do you host clients or associates for drinks or meals? That is also a cost that can escalate quickly.
MINIMISING THE IMPACT
Take the time to carefully consider what your business does, how you do it and what you need to be in business and generate income. It can be helpful to brainstorm this with your staff.
Once you have listed all the areas that:
(a) cost money
(b) might cost money;
You can do two things. Firstly, get quotes and prices for the various cost items so that you can put accurate figures into your budget. Secondly, practice good cash control measures so that if you encounter an expense you did not or could not have foreseen you can deal with it.