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Five Expenses Every Startup Business Should Consider

One issue I see small businesses dealing with across the board is figuring out what expenses are worth it. Do you really need to hire a registered agent to accept service of process? (Generally, no). Do you need commercial office space? (It depends on your business). As a startup business cognizant of the bottom line, it’s important to know what’s worth it and what isn’t; however, many times it’s impossible to differentiate until you’ve already spent the dough.

From my experience, both as a small business owner myself and one who deals almost exclusively with small businesses, here are five expenditures every small business should consider:

  1. A virtual office – Many small businesses don’t actually need commercial space, especially when just starting out. At the same time, in the interests of looking professional and not revealing personal information (i.e., your home address), using a corporate address is a good idea. Sometimes, a family member or friend might allow you to use their business address effectively as a mail stop or point of contact; however, that option isn’t always available. Consider investing in a virtual office – for less than a hundred dollars a month, you’ll have access to an office for purposes of meeting with clients (you pay by use), as well as a professional address. Just know that when it comes to some official registrations, you cannot use it as the point of contact because they’ll want an actual “physical” address.
  2. A virtual phone solution – Rather than obtain a separate phone for your office, consider a virtual phone solution. Businesses such as Onebox¬†offer services such as an auto attendant (when a client calls, they dial a number separate from your personal phone number and they hear a message from an auto-attendant before being routed to you), professional greetings, teleconference line, voicemails transcribed to texts/emails, and online faxing. In addition to providing you with a professional phone number, services such as Onebox will only set you back about $35/month versus the much higher amount you’d spend on obtaining a separate phone for your business.
  3. A great web developer – If you are relying on obtaining clients from the general public, or know that prospective clients will be checking up on you via the web, consider investing in a professional website. Not all web developers are created equal, however, so get referrals and understand the market rates. (I know a web developer I would unreservedly recommend).
  4. Professional business cards – It’s always a good idea to have professional business cards on hand. I use Vistaprint and always have an eye out for promotions; if you catch a good one, you can get about 50% off site-wide.
  5. A LinkedIn premium account – This expenditure depends on your industry, but LinkedIn in general is a great way to get your name out there and connect with prospective clients, teaming partners, and other contacts. Joining is free, but you can upgrade your account (watch for promotions), and then send messages to those outside your network for free as well as see who’s viewed your profile.

What do you think? As a small business owner, can you think of any expenses that were worth any penny? Any that were a waste?

*Did you find this article informative? If so, sign up for Sarah Schauerte’s legal blog on veteran small business issues at: http://www.legalmeetspractical.com.

In The Office, the Michael Scott Paper Company invested in a pancake breakfast to draw in clients (Season Five)

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