Nearly everyone who has ever started a business has underestimated the costs, and then faced the danger of running with inadequate capital reserves. The key to avoiding this pitfall is to adopt a rigorous approach to your research and planning.
Our Startup Expenses worksheet will lead you through the process.
Begin by estimating expenses. What will it cost you to get your business up and running? The key to accuracy here is attention to detail. For each category of expense, draw up a list of everything you will need to purchase. This will include both tangible assets (for example, equipment, inventory) and services (for example, remodeling, insurance). Then determine where you might purchase these goods or services. Research more than one vendor; i.e.: comparison shop. Do not look at price alone; terms of payment, delivery, reliability, and service are also important.
Add a reserve for contingencies. Be sure to explain in your narrative how you decided on the amount you are putting into this reserve.
You cannot open an empty bank account. You need a cash cushion to meet expenses while the business gets going. Eventually, you should do a 12-month cash flow projection. This is where you will work out your estimate of working capital needs. For now, either leave this line blank or put in your best rough guess. After you have done your cash flow, you can come back and enter the carefully researched figure.
Now that you have estimated how much capital will be needed to start, you should turn your attention to the top part of this worksheet. Enter the amounts you will put in yourself, how much will be injected by partners or investors, and how much will be supplied by borrowing.
If you will be using this plan to support a bank loan request, use the section near the bottom to show what assets are offered as collateral to secure the loan, and give your estimate of the value of these items. Be prepared to offer some proof of your estimates of collateral values.