Don’t Forget These Sneaky Expenses When Starting Your Business

Starting a business can be expensive. That’s not a big secret. What may seem like a secret, though, are all the smaller, unexpected expenses that start piling up once the big startup costs are out of the way.

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To help keep your business’s finances healthy, you should be aware of these hidden costs and plan accordingly. Here are just a few to keep an eye out for.

Janitorial Services

If your business has office or retail space, don’t forget to factor in the costs of keeping it clean. Unless you’re working in a home office, it probably makes more sense to hire a cleaning service than to try to maintain things yourself. Performing the upkeep yourself may cost less money, but it’ll eat up a ton of time, which is possibly even more valuable (more on that later). Professional cleaner costs vary with office size, but for one or two visits a week, larger spaces can cost around $350–$900 a month.

Furniture and Decor

This expense is easy to miss, especially if your business doesn’t involve an office. While desks and task chairs are an obvious part of office expenses, retail spaces and even home offices still need furniture and some art or other decorations to spruce them up.

Small Office Supplies

No, this isn’t referring to the size of the office—it’s the size of the supplies that’s the focus here. Things like paperclips, printer paper, stamps, and pens can add up to a significant chunk of change over time. And you may be surprised at how quickly your business goes through these items as you get up and running. Stamps in particular can get expensive quickly at $10.00 for a book of twenty.

It’s easy to focus on the tech you need like computers and printers when budgeting for office supplies, but don’t forget about the smaller items of the office supply world.

Utilities and Services

If you’ll be leasing office or retail space, set aside money for utilities. This list includes basics like trash pickup, electricity, and water. It also includes essentials like internet access for your office, which can cost anywhere from $20.00 per month to $650.00 per month, depending on what kind of speed you need.


One thing you’ll quickly find as you get your business up and running is that everything takes longer than you think it will. It’s easy to end up devoting your entire day to your business as tasks run over and projects get pushed back.

While some extra work is OK (and almost expected) in the beginning, you don’t want to spend every moment of the rest of your life working. And you definitely don’t want to devote too much time to urgent tasks while neglecting the other important ones. Make sure to build some margin in your schedule to cover for the unexpected.


Software and Licensing

It’s easy to overlook all the software that will be required as you start your business. Of course, there’s the standards you probably know about like the Microsoft Office Suite or your email service. One huge need is accounting software, some of which is free, some of which is not.

Don’t forget about other software tools for marketing needs, customer relation management, or invoicing. Know ahead of time exactly what kind of programs and software you’ll need.

Credit Card Processing

Planning to take credit cards? Then you’re going to need to pay some merchant fees. They vary so much from service to service that you’ll want to shop around. Luckily, there are plenty of resources, and plenty of companies to go with, that you can easily figure how to build those fees into your pricing model for your business.

Business License Fees

Depending on where you live as well as your industry, you may have to pay application fees for your business. As of this writing, it costs $300 to apply for a license to be a contractor for home repair. However, in Utah the application fee is only $35.

On top of industry application fees in the state, there may also be other state, federal, or municipal fees to pay when starting your business. Every area is different, so be sure to check your local entities to ensure your business will be legal.


While you may think you don’t need insurance, it’s best to look into a policy for your business. There is no worse feeling than finding out your company card was skimmed, your site compromised, or product stolen.

There are many types of business insurance, each that cover certain things and don’t cover others, so you’ll have to research what’s best for your business. For in-depth information about insurance, review this blog post from SmartBiz Loans: Types of Insurance Every Small Business Needs

Whether you’re starting your very first business or a new side hustle, it’s easy for the costs to sneak up on you. Keep these nine in mind (and in the budget), and you’ll be ahead of the game.

About the Author

Shea Drake is a writer and photographer whose focus is on helping other entrepreneurs overcome setbacks and learn new skills when it comes to technology, marketing, and the ins and outs of starting a business. When not writing, she enjoys photography, Marvel movies, and traveling. You can find more of her writings on Twitter, she’d love to hear from you.