Starting a business in 2023 needn’t be overwhelming. I get it, there’s a lot to think about and as a new entrepreneur, there’s one thing on your mind: money. Can you afford it, will the business sustain you, how will you juggle your side hustle alongside your life commitments – maybe even another full-time job – exactly how much does it cost to start a business in 2023?
No doubt, there’s a lot to think about, but the more you think the more reasons you’ll find not to follow your dreams and that’s the last thing I want for you.
Related: Discover how to start a business from scratch.
So, instead of overthinking, read through this comprehensive guide including a breakdown of startup costs and tips to manage costs at every step.
- Fixed costs to start a business
- Variable costs to start a business in 2023
- How to fund your startup or small business
- Create a budget for your first year
- Businesses you can start with a small budget
Fixed costs to start a business in 2023
The fixed costs of your startup will depend on the type of business. As a freelancer you can start up a business for $0, assuming you already own a PC and have access to Wi-Fi.
Businesses that need more involvement from operations, products or digital assets like websites may need to spend more.
The cost of your business will be unique, but you can use the guides below to determine how much it costs to start your dream business in 2023.
Domain, website or online store
The majority of startups need a website either to trade and receive enquiries online or for a presence in Google search and Google maps for local search.
That said, if you’re starting a service-based business you may be able to drum up business without a website by using social media platforms like LinkedIn. This is what I did for two years, keeping my start-up cost at $0.
To save the cost of a website, ecommerce stores can create shops on Etsy and pay minimal fees to upload products. Then, it’s just a commission on sales. Alternatively, you can start affiliate marketing on TikTok which costs nothing to set up.
While free alternatives are great, at some point your business will likely grow to a point where you want a more robust online presence. And ecommerce merchants should be prepared to source a point-of-sale (POS) system or technology allowing them to accept online payments.
For entrepreneurs who need a website, start by sourcing your domain and hosting.
In general, non-premium domains cost between $1 to $20, depending on the deal you are getting and the number of years you decide to register the domain for. To explore prices buy a domain and search for your desired website URL.
Tips for managing the cost of domains: you can cut costs by exploring cheaper domain suffixes. Generally, but not always, .com or .co.uk will be more expensive than .co, .io, .site, .shop. There are a lot of domain options so spend some time exploring suffixes and pricing.
Your website host is required to get your site on the internet and in front of customers. For this, you’ll need to get a web hosting plan.
Tips for managing the cost of hosting: pay annually or for many years in advance to save money.
Related: How to start an online business
Website design and development
For those who need to create a website you can use drag-and-drop editors. This is perfect if you really want to cut costs. You can build brochure websites or use the online store builder if you’re starting with ecommerce.
If you’re not willing to create the website yourself, then don’t fret because there are affordable website design services to guarantee a website you (and your customers) will love. I’ve known entrepreneurs who started with websites that are quite affordable.
Tips for managing the cost of website design and build: if the thought of designing and developing a website is overwhelming, but you want to save costs, commit a couple of hours to creating a website with GoDaddy. I promise it’s easy and you might surprise yourself.
While you’re creating a website, consider creating a logo to display on your web pages and other brand collateral. Services like GoDaddy Logo Maker are free and let you quickly snag this key piece of branding.
Legal costs to register a business
Legal costs vary hugely between types of business and the required legal cover. If you’ve figured out how to create an LLC and you’re ready for the costs associated you can expect to pay anything from $485 to more than $1,000. Of course, this depends on what you can do yourself. More savvy start-ups may be able to tackle some of the legal requirements, thus saving money.
Tips for managing legal costs: consider the essentials. As a new business owner, it can be tempting to cover your business from every angle, but this may not be required at the very beginning. Consider what’s a must-have to start up, then take note of what you can purchase later and when it’s needed.
Marketing is one of the most flexible costs when starting a business. The options are endless.
At the cheapest, GoDaddy can support your business from $85/month, but a more multi-channelled approach will cost $500/month*.
The good thing about marketing is that you can do a lot alone. If you’re happy to manage social media platforms to drum up business, you can do well without spending a penny. It is time-consuming so that time investment must be considered.
If you’re thinking about marketing your business with ads then you need to consider the cost of ads versus the benefit. Generally, it’s not useful to start with a budget that's too small simply because you won’t get the data you need to decipher a good ads campaign from a bad one. Don’t start an ads campaign until you’re ready to commit.
Tips for managing marketing costs: choose your marketing channels carefully, and do your research to find out which one is likely to have the biggest impact. It’s better to cover fewer channels well than many channels poorly. After all, you can always scale once you’ve nailed one platform.
Variable costs to start a business in 2023
Some prices are incredibly variable depending on location and the needs of the business. These items are listed below.
The beauty of starting a business in 2023 is that many businesses won’t need a physical location, but if you’re opening a brick-and-mortar store or plan to work in an office you’ll need to think about rent or mortgages.
Products or inventory
If you need to buy and hold stock you’ll need to outlay an initial investment upfront. The cost will vary on the units required. You can manage these costs by thinking carefully about what you’re likely to sell. Another consideration is what you can sell if you buy stock in bulk.
Tips for managing product and inventory costs: ask suppliers about their minimum order quantity (MOQ) and how costs vary on quantity. Also, consider drop shipping so you don’t have to outlay any costs at all.
Staff costs depend on seniority and location. You’ll need to consider the minimum wage of your state, but the federal minimum wage is $7.25.
Tips for managing staffing costs: businesses trading online can outsource work to talented new freelancers or over-pay freelancers in different parts of the world. You can also take on more work yourself or turn to software and AI to support your business.
Beyond the initial registration, startups need to consider tax. The rules surrounding tax vary so you must check the rules within the country in which your business is registered.
Paying your taxes usually means putting a percentage of your income aside to cover the costs, monitoring and recording your expenses to account correctly for tax write-offs or hiring an accountant to manage taxes for you.
Tips for managing tax costs: the more self-efficient you are, the less you need to pay an accountant. Many small businesses can manage the early tax returns alone, but a growing business will likely need an accountant eventually. Manage the costs by putting money aside regularly.
As a small business you’re likely to have ongoing expenses. You may not start with them but over time you’ll likely invest in subscriptions or software. Or, you might have shipping to consider for e-commerce. Costs will vary based on your requirements.
Tips for managing ongoing expenses: on-going expenses can creep up on business owners so be mindful of monthly subscriptions and the well-intentioned software you purchased. If you’re not using it, you’re throwing away money.
No matter what, any business is likely to be hit with an unexpected cost, eventually. Prepare for the unexpected by holding a budget to get you out of an emergency situation. Unexpected costs could include your sickness, the need to hire a consultant to solve a problem fast or if you’re in a brick-and-mortar store something could go wrong within the building.
How to fund your startup or small business
Getting funding for your new business is likely on your mind. Here are some common ways to earn funding for your start up.
Funding your business on your own can be a safe option. It removes the stress of meeting investor expectations and it can feel really good to know you build your new business with your own means.
Personal investment may require you to save for a few years before you get started, but freedom from other stakeholders can be highly desirable in the early stages.
Borrowing money through contacts
You can opt to borrow money from your personal contacts, friends and family, for example. If you choose to go down this route it’s really important to treat it as you would as a formal investment: draw up contracts, separate personal and businesses conversations. Be very clear on what the contract is.
Securing loans from banks is an option for funding. Generally, banks provide calculators on their websites so you can gage what you might be able to borrow. Be aware that it isn’t easy to get accepted for a bank loan, 80 - 90% of startups fail so banks are naturally careful who they lend money to.
Create a budget for your first year
Let’s take a look at various cost summaries for businesses with varying needs.
Your freelance service-based business cost summary is one of the cheapest businesses to start, it might look a bit like this:
|Laptop||$0||freelancers can start with any laptop that they have access to.|
|Internet||$0||work from home and freelancers don’t need to worry about additional costs for wi-fi.|
|Social media||$0||Organic posts don’t cost anything and can generate leads and clients.|
For those starting a service-based business and desire a more professional appeal can kick off a new business venture with a functioning site.
Here’s what the cost summary can look like:
|Domain||$1.67*||Use suffixes like .site to reach that $1.67 cost|
|Create a website||$0||Get creative and build your own site with GoDaddy.|
|Website design services||$350 and up||Optionally: chose website design services.|
|Web hosting||From $215.64/3 years*||Host your website for 3 years to pay less per annum.|
Marketing costs for the first year
If you choose to work with a service provider like GoDaddy your digital marketing services can be covered for as low as $85.00/month.
|SEO and website updates||From $85.00/month|
|SEO, website updates and social media||From $185.00/month (+$50 ad spend)|
|SEO, website updates and social media, content, emails reputation management, brand guides and a professional photo shoot||From $500.00/month (+$50 ad spend)|
Businesses you can start with a small budget
The digital world has opened a world of opportunity when it comes to starting a business for free or with a small budget.
Assuming you’ve got a PC, wi-fi and a desire to work or use social media to generate leads, you can start any of the following small business ideas, for free:
- Freelancing in digital services like writing, SEO, PPC, social media management or email marketing.
- Freelancing on platforms like Upwork or Fiverr.
- Affiliate marketing through social media platforms like TikTok. You will need to gain 1,000 followers before you can start this one.
- Consulting in a skill you already have (or can learn for free online).
Local services you can start with little to no start-up costs:
- Dog walking
Some businesses require a small budget to start, for example:
- Selling digital downloads on Etsy. You’ll pay a small fee to upload products, but then nothing until you make your first sale where you pay a percentage to Etsy.
- Selling on eBay.
- Print (assuming you’re doing the printing)
Related: Check out our guide on online business ideas.
Closing thoughts on starting a business in 2023
There are a lot of resources and technology that can boost the success of your business. For example, learning how to write up a business plan (with help from things like ChatGPT) can easily jump-start your business path in the right direction. You can also check our simple business plan template.
And while there might be expenses associated with starting a business, don’t forget the financial rewards that come with a successful venture. Keep that momentum going and make 2023 the year you founded a business to be proud of.
*Pricing data valid on March 2023. All prices listed are subject to change.