It seems like no matter what you do there are always unexpected costs associated with business.
That goes for any type of business. Any industry. Any customer.
Also whether the company is a startup or several decades old. Expense management is one of the biggest challenges.
I was thinking about local startups recently. Specifically some overlooked costs that often occur. There are some ones that people usually think about like filing fees, equipment, furniture, etc.
It's easy to overlook those, but there are some articles out there that cover those types of things. So I started thinking about it in terms of things you might not necessarily count as an expense, but that definitely costs you time, energy and money.
So here is a quick little list of things to watch for...and you'll notice a theme.
1. DIY Marketing
Marketing is often overlooked when starting a new business. Even businesses that have been open awhile can put marketing on the back burner.
And when the focus is on raising awareness for the company, it's often done in-house in a do-it-yourself manner.
It's easy to think that you can handle Facebook and Instagram on your own in your spare time. And it is possible. But even with that intent most businesses aren't able to keep up with the task.
It's not that you can't or shouldn't do your marketing by yourself. Just plan to schedule some time everyday to focus entirely on it. Shoot for one hour a day. You can break that up into three 20-minute sections.
Commit to this for the long-term. It'll become habit and you'll see the benefit.
2. DIY Accounting
Many business owners get into their business because they're good at something. A yoga instructor might open their own studio because they're a really good instructor. A chiropractor might open their own practice because they're really good at their craft.
Most business owners don't want to focus on the accounting and admin-type work. But it's part of every business. Even if you hire out this work you still have to put in regular effort to help your bookkeeper keep things organized.
So like the other items on this list, plan to set aside time for it. At least 1-2 hours every week to do it yourself or to coordinate with the accountant.
3. DIY HR Management
If you have employees you're going to have human resource costs. Both in time and in actual cash.
You're going to have to spend time putting out listings for job postings. You're going to have to take time to screen and interview. Then when you hire you'll have to train. And if you want to train you'll have to go through and setup processes and procedures for your employees to follow.
And even when the person is hired and doing a good job they will have questions. There will be potential issues between employees that you will have to manage and work out.
Managing your team requires time every week and often every day. That's time you have to plan for otherwise your team will feel neglected and small issues will turn into things that can ruin your company.
4. DIY Customer Support
Customers are going to have questions. Some will be easy to answer. Some will take a little time.
Obviously you want to keep people as happy with your company as possible. But if you don't set aside a certain percentage of your time each month for unexpected customer support then you're going to be reeling.
And if that happens customers can become frustrated. That reflects poorly on your brand and some customers will start looking for other options without even telling you.
Schedule the time. Also look for patterns in support. When things start recurring then look to change your processes to provide a better product.
5. DIY Crisis Management
Not everything is a huge crisis in business. But there will be little mini issues that come up all the time. You'll have to mostly drop everything you're doing to figure out what the solution will be. Both to solve the current issue and also to try and prevent it from happening in the future.
Perhaps the biggest job for a business owner and manager is dealing with problems. Things that come up that you can't plan for. Well, you can't plan for specific issues, but you can set aside time to handle issues. Because every business will have future issues.
Obviously the theme is do-it-yourself. Most local businesses and small businesses have DIY tasks. It's a way to save money especially early on in the business lifetime or if you're expanding into something new.
You don't necessarily shell out cash for the items above, but they definitely cost you money. It's good to plan for these things as much as possible.
A wise person once told me that you can't put your head in the sand when it comes to common expenses. If 90% of people buy a car and get married, you should probably start saving money as soon as possible to prepare. If you don't prepare then you're left scrambling and making poor choices.
So hopefully these help you prepare a little as you get ready for exciting things coming your way.