Building a business from scratch involves hard work, long hours, and, statistically speaking, a high probability of failure. Yet as researchers Stanley and Danko noted in their landmark book, The Millionaire Next Door, "self-employed people make up less than 20% of the workers in America but account for two-thirds of the millionaires." For those businesses that survive, the rewards can be substantial.
Unfortunately, many businesses die before they get started. That's because entrepreneurs often fail to estimate start-up costs with reasonable accuracy. As a result, the company cash account dwindles to zero before sales catch up.
If you're preparing to launch a new business, take a hard look at the following:
- Assets. Your company's requirements will vary depending on the industry and market for your goods and services. But you should be able to construct a list of assets necessary to keep the business up and running for at least a year. If you're establishing a company in a brick-and-mortar location, you'll need to factor in equipment, furniture, point-of-sale cash registers, incorporation fees, licenses, signage, rental and utility deposits, and remodeling costs. A service-oriented firm may not carry substantial inventory, but a product-based company should estimate initial inventory costs as well. Equipment and furniture vendors should be able to provide reasonable cost estimates for such items.
- Expenses. Costs to launch a company will also include items not found on the balance sheet — outlays to keep the company running from day to day. These might include legal fees, website development costs, expenditures for office supplies, marketing materials, and rent and utility deposits. If you hire folks to help get the company off the ground, their salaries should be included in the expense estimate as well.
- Cash. Once you know how much your company will need for assets and expenses, it's time to develop a budget. Estimate revenue and collections for at least three months. Be conservative. Add up the cost of assets and expected expenses, then deduct cash in the bank and projected revenue. The difference will be your cash shortfall. This is the amount you'll need to garner from other sources, including bank and personal funds.
The more accurately you estimate the above items, the more likely your company will survive long enough to become profitable.
© MC 2014