Hidden Expenses and How to Save on Them

The experiences I have had running businesses have taught me there are always extra expenses that will completely blow my budget and ones I never saw coming. Now, when I plan for a new expense, I always add 20% to cover these hidden items. If there are none, then I've saved 20%. If there are additional charges, then I have not gone over budget. I've also come up with ways to save money on these expenses through creative methods.

Typical Hidden Expenses in Start-up Businesses

Incorporation Expenses. I strongly encourage any business owner to have a working relationship with a lawyer who can help them draw up contracts, review leases, and assist with general corporate matters. Many businesses will also go to lawyers for help in the incorporation process. Most small business owners will pay between $1500 and $3000 for this service. Another option is to pay for an hour of consultation with your lawyer ($100 - $200 per hour) and then handle the incorporation documents through a service that just incorporates companies. I have used The Company Corporation and paid about $350 for the complete process including stock certificate, corporate book, and corporate seal. I completed the forms in the book as best I could and then took the whole thing in to the lawyer for approval. Total saved was at least $1000. A big savings to my small business.

Telephone Expenses. A lot of your operating cash will go to pay for this life line to the world. The phone company is very good at selling you products and services, and many of them are worth every penny. There are some ways to save some cash though. First look at how many lines you will need. If you have a home business, you might think you only need one line. Remember, though that when you are online your calls are either getting a busy signal or voice mail (the best choice). Maybe two lines, then one for voice and one for online. But what about faxes, then?

If you need two lines, and will be spending much of your time online, you may want to consider a special type of phone line called ISDN (Integrated Services Digital Network). Available from your local phone company (most anyway), this line will bring you two telephone numbers and fast net access (128K max). You need a special modem (about $200) and set-up can also be steep ($300+), but you will only pay for one phone line instead of two. The main ISDN line comes into your office and goes into your modem. On your modem you attach one telephone line to your telephone and one to your fax. You can now be online and on the phone, or on the phone and receive a fax. You still cannot get a fax while you are also online because that "line" is one and the same. Not a bad compromise.

A note about telephone services. Because you are now a business, business lines are charged per minute or per call, not a flat rate like your home service. Every call you make will cost you money. I have an ISDN line into my business and use it for all my surfing and phone calls. I pay about $150 a month for these services.

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