How much does it cost to start a creative business?

cost to start a creative business

I have a pet peeve I have to get off my chest. There is a cost to start a creative business. Nothing gets under my skin more than seeing a mom starting her creative business by asking for clients for a payment via “Venmo” or using Paypal “friends and family” or only accepting check or cash.

I know she is trying to avoid the fees associated with payment processors and keep all her earnings in her pocket. And, I am all for rooting on any mom going after her dreams and starting a business – but those little seemingly insignificant cost cutting measures tell me that underneath those dreams lies A LOT of fear around the cost of owning a legitimate creative business.

Before you try to start with the “Yes, Beryl but….”

Let me clarify that product or service experimentation is different than operating a legitimate business venture. If you’re in the space of just testing the waters on a few clients to see if you even enjoy being a business owner, or seeing if a particular product will sell at all to your friends – then you absolutely should experiment in the cheapest way possible.

But at some point that experiment will shift from hobbyist to business owner. And with that shift will come the necessary costs that all business owners face at some point on their journey.

cost to start a business - sitting down to coffee

So how much does it cost to start a creative business? I am asked to sit down for coffee all the time with creative dreamers who are considering starting a business. The questions they ask, and the answers I give are always similar in nature:

“How much will my website cost?”

“How can I save money on all the credit card fees?”

“How do I find clients and advertise my business”

Look, I get it. Starting a creative business is a scary investment especially if you’re used to taking care of your family and their needs before your own. Plus you want to make sure your business is actually making money and not spending away your family vacation budget… which can happen all too easily if you’re not careful.

The annoying answer of…”it depends” I know may not be the answer you’re looking for when it comes to figuring out the cost of running a business. But hear me out, I’m about to lay out a bunch of considerations for you.

How much does it cost to start a creative business? (TL;DR version)

  • There is more to cost that simply money. Starting and growing a creative business will take money, time, and energy. Which of these you have more to give on your journey is a very personal decision.
  • Every business owner will face a certain number of necessary costs: a business license, domain name registration and web hosting, and payment processing fees are some of the most common. These costs make it easier for the right clients to find you and work with you.
  • You can cut business costs by remembering that you don’t need to invest in every bell and whistle at once. Just because you spend the money on a high end logo and website doesn’t mean the clients will automatically flock to you.
  • Find the right coach or mentor. They can help you avoid the headaches and pitfalls of trying to learn the ropes all on your own.
  • Remember to regularly crunch numbers and look at how your pricing, costs, and sales impact one another. If you invest $0 in your business and make $5,000 for the year that’s pretty amazing, but what if you made a $5,000 investment in your business and made $20,000 for the year?
  • Investing in your business can bring up fears, but remember the bigger picture – the cost of growing your business means you get to learn, leverage your talents, and maximize your results!

🔎 Related: 5 reasons why you struggle to start your creative business

OK, before we really dive into how much it costs to start your creative business, let’s dig a bit deeper into defining what cost means and what you can expect as you grow into being a business owner.

cost to start a business thinking

What you need to know about the cost to start a creative business

There is more to business costs that money. Starting a business also takes time and energy too. So the first thing to consider is how much capacity we have to invest in each of these costs. Which, is a very personal and situational decision to make. Here’s some of what you can expect to experience with each cost when you are first starting your creative business.

The cost of time

Most of the moms I work with are solopreneurs building a side hustle on their own. What that means is that you will be sales, you will be marketing, you will be networking, you will be branding, you will be social media manager, you will be delivery, you will be the brains and the manpower, and all the things. Each product or service you offer will need each of these elements and you will need to have dedicated time to work through each of these roles in your business. Before you go on a runaway train of creative ideas be sure you’ve given yourself the time to work on each of these important roles in your business or that you’ve hired help to get them all under control!

The cost of money

Every business owner will face a certain number of necessary costs no matter the size of scope of your operation: a business license, domain name registration and web hosting, and payment processing fees are some of the most common. These costs make it easier for the right clients to find you and work with you. If you’re struggling with how to get started you may want to hire a coach to help you get your business off the ground. As you begin to make a profit you will have taxes to pay. As you get busier you may need to hire help to manage your operations.

The cost of energy

You may be able to find time to work on your business but if you have a full time job already, or have young kiddos – the energy to stay focused and get your business going could be hard to come by.

cost to start a business

How to cut the cost around starting a business

Once you have a sense around the time, money, and energy costs that are personal to you and your business, you can begin to make a spending plan.

For example, when I was starting out I knew that my time costs were going to be high. I didn’t have the money to invest in everything as I was learning, I had a full time job during the week, and I had a toddler who needed me at home. I committed myself to consistent blogging and social media and client availability but I paid a high price in time working on those things each evening after my kiddo went to bed from about 7-10pm.

The early stages of my business I pinched pennies financially by creating my own logo and learning the ins and outs of basic graphic design, I used my entry level DSLR instead of investing in a more professional level camera, I hosted events and classes at reasonable priced venues, and I made sure I was pricing my work fairly so I had profit to save and invest as my work grew.

But, my secret weapon in cutting costs in starting up my creative business was hands down the day I chose to hire a business coach. Having a coach in my corner allowed me to spend my limited amount of time on the right tasks, she kept my mindset confident and strong and moving forward despite my fears, and she helped me avoid the pitfalls she had experienced herself or seen in her own clients.

cost to start a business - work with a coach

Working with a coach is an investment

Yes, hiring a coach is an investment. And…when you are a mom starting a business, you may not immediately think of a coach being an important cost of doing business. You may be reading this thinking that you should build this creative business of yours on your own first (just in case you fail or it doesn’t work….amiright?!).

But this is literally the BEST investment I made in my business and myself.

It’s NOT easy to tap the buy button and spend thousands of dollars working with someone you hope can help you succeed. But, starting a creative business requires letting go, stepping into the unknown, and making lots of scary decisions.

The cost of hiring a coach will save you precious time time because instead of questioning each decision for days or weeks or months or years – you’ll have someone there who has faced similar decisions and can help you move through them faster.

A coach will help you find the information you don’t know and give you constructive feedback instead of wasting your precious energy looking up each new thing you need to know for hours on end or question if you work is good enough to start charging money to produce.

So, bottom line, here’s what you need to know about the cost to start a creative business

here's what you need to know about the cost to start a creative business

If you are considering starting your creative business, or are ready to double down and help your existing business grow – the questions you are probably asking about costs may not be the best ones.

Pinching a few pennies and saving on processing fees, building out the cheapest website possible, finding the perfect social media templates – are those the best ways to measure the costs of your time, energy, and money long term?

Don’t forget that the cost of starting a creative business is so much more than the money. And I don’t want you to forget to zoom out and make cost decisions that are rooted in the longer term WHY you are growing a creative business not just the immediate impact those costs have on the here and now.

The cost of those late night hours when my daughter was a baby meant I was able to cash in MORE time with her by quitting my full time job when she was a toddler. The cost of hiring a business coach took me from profiting $0 in my first year in business to cashing in over $20,000 in profit by year 3.

Investing in your business can and will bring up fears, but remember the bigger picture – the cost of growing a business means you get to learn, leverage your talents, and maximize your results!

Starting a creative business is an investment, and you get to choose the right costs for you.

At the end of the day the cost to start a creative business will be different for each of us. We each have different goals, we each have different levels of comfort with financial risk, we each bring a different set of skills and talents to the table.

But a coach can help you hone and guide those talents if and when you’re ready to take the leap.

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