How much does it cost to start a business?

Ideas are cheap but taking action can be daunting and expensive.

I’ve started many things and they’ve not always gone to plan. But learning is a huge part of any failure and learning from your own experiences and the experiences of others is incredibly valuable. Sometimes we want to be inspired by success stories, and sometimes we want cold hard facts. You’ll get a bit of both in this article.

My partner and I recently started a new venture and have been writing a bit about the experience. Today, I’d like to share exactly what it cost to get this venture up and running.

What did we start?

To provide a bit of context, the business in question is called The Food Rush. It’s an online magazine showcasing and celebrating innovation in the food and food tech space.

At the moment it’s really just a website featuring a handful of pages, a single issue comprising 7 articles, and a blog with a single blog post. There’s much more coming, but it’s early days at the moment.

We gave ourselves 10 days to build and launch a bare-bones version so we could start testing the waters and gather feedback. We designed and built the website, started some social media accounts, had a friend of ours help with a couple of social ad campaigns and so far, that’s about it.

The financial side

If you started reading this because your curious about how much it costs in cold hard cash money (pounds in my case, rather than dollars) then let me cut to the chase.

So far we’ve spent:

  • $12.99 on a domain (from Hover)
  • £3.30 for a month of a Google Apps email address
  • £173.95 on Facebook ads
  • £550.00 on social media consultancy
  • £165 for a month of Shutterstock images

This comes to a total of just over £900. Not bad, but certainly not nothing.

Most of the money went in consultancy fees — which isn’t a huge surprise as people are expensive. We could have gotten off the ground for next to nothing if we’d done this ourselves but it was incredibly useful to have a friend take care of this for us while we focused on everything else.

And by everything else, I mean things like the list below. We got all these for free due to already having the necessary skills or blindly making it up as we went along:

  • 3 days of web design & branding (I did that myself)
  • 5 days of web development (I did that myself)
  • Hosting (I already have my own server space)
  • Writing of 7 articles (My partner wrote 6, I wrote 1 — we’re not writers but we knew what we wanted to write about so just got on with it)
  • Additional photography for 2 articles (Again, I’m no expert but I do have a decent camera so I did this myself)

It’s hard to put a price on this kind of work. But if we had to put money behind some or all of these things we’d definitely have been looking at a few thousand in startup costs instead of a few hundred.

I suppose what I’m trying to get at here is that starting a business is definitely not free; even if you have a lot of the skills already or are willing to have a go and wear many hats. But the money side of things is just one part of it.

The non-financial side

The other consideration when starting a business is how much it will cost you in time and how much you’ll have to sacrifice from your “normal” life.

We’ve made a conscious decision to have less down-time. We’ve made a conscious decision to get up at 5am every day so we can work on this business before we go to our day jobs. We’re dedicating one night a week to attend events where we can network, learn from others and get feedback on what we’re doing. We’ve committed three nights a week to writing content and the last remaining weeknight for research and connecting with influencers. We’re planning to use our Saturdays for strategy meetings and planning for the week ahead. For now, Sunday is the only day with no scheduled business activity but we’ll have to see how long we can keep it that way.

All this comes at a cost.

We’re tired. Sometimes we’re confused or frustrated. Often we’re apprehensive about the future, unsure about what to focus on or how to tackle the next challenge. But, it’s really fucking exciting to wake up every morning hungry to see what we can make happen.

I can’t think of a better reason to get up than that. And you can’t put a price on that kind of experience.