How to Calculate Startup Costs for Your Creative Business

Learn how to accurately calculate your startup costs when starting your creative business. Find out how to keep your business costs down.

11 min read

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If you have an idea for an online business, but you are not sure how much money you will need in order to launch it, you are in the right place. Here are some tools you can use to figure out what you need in order to open your new online business.

Startup costs are a surprisingly tricky thing to pin down. The success of your business is at stake, so it’s important to get the numbers right. If you’re planning to start a business online, here are five steps to calculate your startup costs.

1) Determine What You Need to Get Started

To determine the amount of startup capital you need for your creative business requires you to look at all your startup costs
Photo by Katie Harp from Unsplash

In order to determine how much money you need to start an online business, you need to figure out what you need to get started. You will also need to invest in some basic tools like a computer and internet connection.

Your startup costs are all the expenses that you’ll need to pay before you can make sales. Most online business owners choose to fund their startups with personal savings or loans from family and friends. Keep in mind that these will be monthly expenses. If you use a loan to fund your startup, you’ll have to pay that money back with monthly interest.

If you are starting a business from scratch, some startup costs that you will need to take into account are:

  • Product development and production
  • Business setup fees (website, hosting, email)
  • Marketing
  • Payroll
  • Legal
  • Insurance
  • Miscellaneous

Product Development and Production

The total cost of your product development will depend on the type of business you decide to start and the type of items you want to sell. Remember that if you are dealing with physical products, the cost of production will have an impact on your bottom line. It’s important to figure out whether or not you can reasonably afford to buy the product that you want to sell.

Business Setup Fees (Website, Hosting, Email)

Depending on your level of experience with website building, the cost of creating a website can be relatively inexpensive. There are a number of companies that you can build a website.

Most website builders offer a free plan, but you will want to upgrade so your website looks professional. Here are a few website builders you might want to check out:

  • BlueHost– - Allows you to build your website in WordPress without using any code. BlueHost offers a free domain name with your purchase of hosting. Pricing starts at $2.75/mo.
  • Weebly– It has a free plan and offers a custom domain name when you upgrade to their paid plans that starts at $6.00/mo.
  • Wix– If you need a template, Wix has hundreds of templates to choose from and it has a drag and drop feature that is easy to use. Its plans start at $14/mo.
  • HostGator– It offers a free domain name with your purchase of hosting and they have a website builder that is drag and drop. It has easy WordPress installs. Hosting starts at $2.75/mo and the builder starts at $3.84/mo.
  • Squarespace– You can create an ecommerce website for free with no credit card required. They offer a number of templates to help you get started. You get a free custom domain name when you upgrade to its paid plans, which start at $14/mo.
  • Shopify– If you need an ecommerce site, Shopify excels. It offers a 14-day free trial and no credit card is required. You can add a custom domain name when you sign up.
  • Weebly– It has a free plan and offers a custom domain name when you upgrade to its paid plans. There is an easy drag and drop feature and you can build an ecommerce site using the platform. Plans starts at $6/mo.
  • Webflow– If you have a little bit of website design skills, Webflow is the way to go. This blog was created in Webflow and we have created a number of sites using this platform. It offers a free plan, but if you upgrade to a paid plan you can get a custom domain. Although you need to learn the program, it allows you to build any website you can imagine, including blogs and ecommerce sites without using code. They do have free templates and paid templates. You can also get help in the community, along with helpful videos, which can be a great help. Pricing starts at $12/mo and $29/mo for ecommerce sites.


The cost of marketing depends on your type of business and how you plan to market to your target audience. A typical marketing budget might include social media advertising, traditional advertising (printing flyers, posters), paid search campaigns (this is where you pay for your advertisements to show up in search engines when people type in relevant keywords), and email campaigns.


The cost of payroll will depend on the  number of people you plan to hire. If you are just starting out, it might make sense for one person to handle the bulk of the working tasks. If you have employees, you will need to determine how much you will need to spend on your employees before you start your business.

Furthermore, if there are areas of your business that you do not know how to preform, you may need to enlist contractors to do the work that is required to start your business.


When it comes to licensing fees, some types of businesses are more expensive than others. However, no matter what type of business you are starting, you need to comply with all the legal requirements in order to make sure your business is running legally.

If you believe you need an incorporation, you need to hire an attorney to incorporate your business. Contact an attorney in your area before attempting to do this on your own. There are online companies that offer these services, but you are better off finding an attorney that you can trust to do your paperwork correctly.

Further, you will need a CPA to help with your accounting and taxes. Make sure you are well informed about the tax implications of your business is important if you want to stay in business.  By finding an accountant you trust, you will be able to ensure that your business is running legally and you are complying with the IRS.


It is important to understand that you will require a variety of insurance coverages based on your industry, employees, and the product you sell.

As a sole proprietor who is starting an online business, you may not require as much insurance as someone with a physical location, but this is not a requirement to be overlooked.


There are always costs that come up when opening any business, and an online business is no different. When it comes to starting a business, make sure you take into account unexpected costs. By budgeting these unexpected costs in before you start your online business, you will not be surprised when something comes up that requires you to pay the bill.

Starting an online business can be relatively inexpensive compared to a traditional brick and mortar business. However, it is important to make sure to account for all of these startup costs in order for your online business can open. Once you know what it will take to get started, you can figure out the costs of the additional things that your business will need to run.

2) Figure out Your Overhead Costs

Startup companies need to know the overhead costs and expenses for your creative business
Photo by Katie Harp from Unsplash

Once you know what expenses are required to get started, you need to estimate your monthly overhead costs.

Your overhead costs are the expenses that are necessary for you to keep your business running, but don’t directly contribute to making sales. This includes things like rent, payroll, and utilities. To estimate your overhead costs, multiply your monthly expenses by 12 (or by the number of months you expect your business to run).

Do not leave anything out when you calculate your expenses. Even if you do not think it is an expense at this stage, make sure to include it for now. You can always delete it later.

It's important to be realistic about how much money you can afford to spend in the early stages of your business. By figuring out your overhead expenses ahead of time, you will be able to determine how much your company needs to make to cover these expenses.

3) Estimate how Much You'll Need to Spend on Marketing

Knowing your marketing expenses will ensure that your business stays in your budget
Photo by Uby Yanes from Unsplash

The more money you can invest in marketing, the better. Unfortunately, when starting a new online business, it is difficult to have enough capital for marketing.  

The amount of money you will need to spend marketing your company will depend on how many customers and potential customers there are for your service or product. However, there are ways in which you can spend less on marketing.

There are also several tricks that will help you to get the best from your marketing budget.

You can start by spending nothing or almost nothing on marketing. If you have a good product, it is possible to get your first customers by giving it away for free.

You can also promote your product using social media, blog posts on other websites, email marketing and using the SEO (search engine optimization) of your website to get free backlinks.

You can also spend a little bit on advertising. We are talking about spending money on advertising platforms such as Google AdWords or Facebook.

Don't spend all of your budget when you start. Spend a little money to see if your products generate a return on investment (ROI). If yes, you can increase your budget and it is possible to get a high ROI. If you don't, try spending less on advertising and concentrate on free methods of marketing or look for another product to sell.

Investing in different marketing methods costs money. If you can, test each method. You don't need to spend lots of money in all marketing methods. Keep in mind that it is sometimes better to spend a lot of money on a few marketing methods that work well than a little on many methods that don't.

Concentrate on the marketing methods that works best for you, your products and your target market.

4) Calculate Inventory Costs

Calculate business startup costs by determining your inventory costs

When starting an online business, it is important to factor in the costs of inventory. This includes the cost of purchasing inventory as well as the cost of storing and shipping it. It is also important to consider whether you will be able to sell all of your inventory within a reasonable amount of time to avoid tying up your capital in excess inventory.

Startups should calculate all of their startup costs before opening a business to avoid any surprises.

In order to factor in the costs of inventory, you need to be able to estimate the average monthly cost of holding this inventory.  You also need to include the cost of purchasing inventory, which means that you need to research the cost of purchasing products in bulk. You will then need to estimate how many of these items you expect to sell in a month.

These initial purchases are just the beginning, however, as manufacturers usually require retailers to purchase in bulk if they want special terms, such as lower prices or faster shipping.

Further, you must determine the cost of storing and shipping your product. You can do this by researching the cost of renting storage space, as well as the shipping costs associated with ordering goods in bulk.

5) Create a Budget and Stick to it!

When you are starting a business, it is important to create a budget that is realistic
Photo by ROMAN ODINTSOV from Pexels

Creating a budget and sticking to it is critical when starting an online business. You need to be realistic about how much money you can afford to spend in the early stages of your business. Make sure you include all of your startup costs, unexpected expenses, marketing, legal fees, insurance, and employee costs.

It's important to be disciplined with your spending and stay within your budget. This will help ensure that your business is sustainable in the long run. Having a budget will allow you to monitor your spending and avoid overspending on unnecessary items.

There are many tools that can help you keep track of your expenses including: financial planners, financial tracking software, and finance applications.

If you do need to spend outside your budget, you must first understand what you want, why it's important to you and how much it will cost. This way you can weigh it against your budget and see if it is worth the cost.

No matter your budget, having a plan is critical when starting an online business. You need to be realistic about how much money you can afford to spend in the early stages of your business and having a budget will help ensure your success.

6) Time to Calculate Your Startup Costs

So there you have it! Your very own, customized guide to calculating your startup costs. By implementing these five steps you will be on your way to launching a successful online business. We hope this information was helpful and inspiring as you take the next steps on your exciting journey towards launching your very own creative business.

So what's next? Read our post on the best types of funding. Here, you will learn different types of funding available so you can get your business up and running fast.

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