5 Business Startup Expenses You Really Don’t Need (Maybe Ever!)

In the world of startups, there are a lot of avoidable expenses but there are also a lot you don’t need now, or maybe ever. Of course, this can vary case by case. However, when creating your budget (as part of your business plan preferably), practice conservation and frugality. Question if you really need a certain item or service, or if you just really want it. Is it a must, and/or will it ultimately provide a good ROI?

To get you started trimming the fat, here are some of the most common expenses that most startups don’t need.


Staffing Before It’s Time

Yes, it’s really exciting to hire your first employee or get your contractors squared away, and start planning those team building activities! However, if any of your staffers are going to be getting paid (by you!) to twiddle their thumbs, that is clearly wasted money. Only hire who you need, when you need them, and take your time to hire the best possible candidates for your budget.

Pro tip: Outsource first.

Costly Subscription-Based Services

Is your dream project management software costing you thousands of dollars—and is there a cheaper or even a free alternative? A better approach is to use free or really low-cost options until you know everything about them and you genuinely need something more. The vast majority of non-profit startups don’t need Raiser’s Edge right off the bat, for example.

Shipping and Printing Unnecessarily

Branding and building your reputation should come well before shipping and printing. Yes, you’ll probably need to come up with a logo pretty soon and that can be a costly expense. However, you don’t always get what you pay for with this: Find a contractor/freelancer or even barter for graphic design. What you don’t need is to be ordering expensive marketing swag and/or shipping it to your networks. That costs more than you have to spend.

A New Wardrobe

Shocked that this made the list? You shouldn’t be, because a lot of entrepreneurs get so fed up with being told they won’t succeed or they are making a mistake that their ego gets in the way. They want to prove they’re on the path to success with a new, professional wardrobe but that’s the worst move you can make. If you truly need a new outfit for something like an awards banquet or major networking event, use what you have, borrow, or thrift it.

Costly Equipment

The good news about being an entrepreneur or small business owner is that you can write off a lot of office expenses. The bad news is that it is easy to fall into the trap of thinking write-offs equate to freebies. You probably don’t need a big office (or any office at all right now!) or the latest MacBooks for all your employees. Practice frugality and save your cash for the expenses you really need.

The worst offender of all? Spending money you don’t have.

It can be tempting to fake growing quickly, but that may be the death of your business before it even has a chance to thrive. Make sure you consider any and every purchase, and before you fork over the cash take a moment to consider how much work you put into earning that money. Is that fancy office chair really worth 45 hours of work? Could that money be more effective somewhere else?