Going from an idea to an operating business is a significant achievement, yet it can be a costly endeavour — particularly if you’re unprepared for what it will cost. Factoring in your start up costs from the very beginning can help mitigate any nasty shocks along the way and put you one step closer to being the proud owner of a viable business.

These start up costs include all expenses incurred prior to your business generating any income. These costs can be categorised into a number of different groups. Understanding these expense groups will help you plan ahead, apply for finance if necessary, and pursue commercial success within the competitive small business landscape.

Initial business registration costs

Firstly, you need to register your business idea in Australia. 

There is no cost to obtain an Australian Business Number (ABN) or to file a Tax File Number application, however, you will need to factor in a registration fee (approximately $512) when applying for company status and obtaining a business name (from $37). 


Unless you decide to start solo, wages will likely be the biggest business expense you incur as an owner. The national minimum wage is currently $20.33 per hour, or $772.60 per 38 hour week. However, it’s important to keep in mind that more competitive salaries tend to attract quality talent. 

Whatever way you approach hiring, be sure to do your research around industry benchmarks to ensure you’re paying a fair and appealing wage. 

Rent and utilities

Following wages, your second biggest expense will likely be your rent. Ensure you think about what kind of space your business should operate from. Will you need warehouse space for inventory? Do you want your bar to be in the CBD? A shopping centre retail space for your salon? Whichever location suits your business best, do your research to get an indication of the average commercial rent costs in that area.

Now is also a good time to forecast your utilities, including internet, water, gas and electricity — not least because you’ll likely need access to all before you even make your first dollar.


It is important to factor in the fit-out of your business premises, which can be costly depending on the business’ requirements. These costs can blow out due to expensive machinery and equipment such as coffee machines, bar fridges and commercial ovens. 

These items can require a significant upfront investment – which can be daunting. A good option when sourcing expensive machinery is to buy second-hand, from a reliable brand. Importantly, the government’s Instant Asset Write-Off — which enables eligible businesses to claim an immediate deduction for the cost of certain purchases up to $150,000 — extends to second-hand items. 

Professional service fees

Even if you intend on running your business solo, there are some things you won’t be able to do yourself, such as legal and accounting tasks. 

An accountant and support from a lawyer will be critical to a compliant setup, and those fees won’t be cheap. Moving forward, you’ll likely need to pay someone to manage payroll and tax returns, as well as consult with a range of other specialists. Be sure to scope these costs in advance by requesting an estimate from multiple providers. 


There is no avoiding it – you need insurance. When considering what insurance you require, think beyond physical sites and inventory, you need to protect your business entity. Professional indemnity insurance, public liability insurance, and product liability insurance are all valuable forms of cover, the cost of which will vary according to your provider, business type and claims history. 


How you position your brand will set you apart from the competition. The stronger your brand, the more likely your target customer is to notice and remember it. It can be tempting to cut costs when it comes to your marketing assets but they are critical to your success.  

Accepting payments

Before opening your business, you should consider how you plan to accept payments. It is important to consider how you will accept popular digital payment methods such as cards and digital wallets, to ensure you don’t miss out on business by being cash-only.

It is crucial to focus on how you can accept as many payment types as possible for the lowest fee possible. In order to do that you need an EFTPOS provider that is equipped to accept contactless devices, MOTO payments, card payments and QR codes. Using the Zeller Terminal you can accept payments on the move, access real-time cash flow data, provide receipts in multiple formats, and pass surcharges directly onto the customer.

Bearing the costs of starting a business

Launching a business can require a significant amount of capital before you start trading. You can assess options such as bank loans, crowdfunding, government grants, venture capital, and equity financing. It’s up to you to explore what option best suits your situation.