Startup Expenses — Am I missing anything?

I'm finally starting up my own elearning/IDT business and was wondering if anything is  'missing' from my list of expected startup and operations expenses:

  • Articulate Storyline 2;
  • 3-year ATD membership;
  • VideoScribe [whiteboard animation software];
  • SquareSpace [website];
  • Canon Rebel T6 DSLR with starter kit;
  • Buffer [social media scheduling app];
  • Adobe Captivate 9;
  • Google Apps [for 1];
  • Business License;
  • Business checking account;
  • Blue Yeti Pro Voiceover microphone w/ Studio software, Pop filter, and Radius II stabilizer addons;
  • Audio-Technica ATH-M50x [studio earphones];
  • Camtasia 9 [Snagit included];
  • Logo;
  • Office 365 University;
  • Rode VMGO Camera Microphone [for DSLR];
  • Google Domain for 8 years;
  • RODE PSA1 Microphone Boom;
  • Pelican 1500 Hard Body Case [for DLSR];
  • STUDIOSAFE Microphone Carrying Case; and a
  • Slappa Full Sized HardBody PRO Headphone Case.
12 Replies
Matthew Bibby

I'm not sure that you will need all of that stuff Phil. 

You might be better to focus first on getting clients and seeing what kind of work is out there. Then pick up equipment as it is required. 

Often the list of things we think we need to start a business differs a lot from the list of things we actually need. 

Phil Hobrla

Matthew, thank you for responding!

I'm actually part of Virginia's Individual Development Account program, where I get an 8:1 match, so I'm only paying $500 for all of this. The operations cost after 2017 is about $100/month. I'm also part of my town's local business classes/competition, "The Gauntlet," and so I'm getting some pretty serious business plan coaching, along with more gig opportunities than I would have expected (3!). :-)

How often does Storyline release a new major version? It's about every 4 years, correct?

Can I get away with only using Storyline/Captivate/Camtasia? Lectora is frightfully expensive and a lot of Adobe's eLearning suite seems made redundant by Storyline.

Again, thanks!


Christy Tucker

I don't have all that media equipment personally, but I would probably go ahead and buy it given your situation. I have an old version of the Adobe suite, which is sufficient for my PDF and Photoshop needs, plus a current subscription to Captivate.

A few other considerations:

  • I use both Dropbox Pro and Google Drive to share files with clients. I pay for storage with both.
  • What are you using for accounting software? Quickbooks? Wave? Freshbooks?
  • What are you paying for professional liability and E&O insurance? If you haven't gotten it yet, Hiscox tends to be the cheapest.
  • I love Zoom for video meetings with clients. It's much smoother and more professional than Skype or Hangouts.
  • What are you using for project management? You may be fine with just spreadsheets for simple projects, but maybe you want something like Basecamp or Trello.
  • How are you tracking time? I use a spreadsheet, but many people prefer to use another tool. Freshbooks can track both time and accounting if you want a combined too.
Phil Hobrla
  • I'll use my Office 365 University subscription, which includes 1 TB storage. I also have 50 GB perpetual storage with Box that I 'won' way back when. I have DropBox, Google Drive, and AWS S3 accounts, as well.
  • I'm going to be adding on Quickbooks for Self-Employed + Turbotax. ($204/year). Sigh.
  • I will forgo insurance for now; instead, I will use an LLC, which should be sufficient in this current portfolio-building stage where I'll be working full time elsewhere. My father is a contract attorney and can write up boilerplate that can help indemnify me if SHTF. Virginia has very cheap LLC registration and annual maintenance fees. Also I did a quote and it was $750. >.<
  • I'm planning on getting Office 365 Business Essentials for email and Skype for Business. ($60/year). I can also use this for storage, too.
  • Trello all the way for project management — I've been very happy with their free option.
  • I have heard Tsheets is really good for time-tracking. ($60/year)
Phil Mayor

I would agree with Christy about liability insurance, I have both Public and Professional (with Hiscox. Really important not just if a client requests, but gives piece of mind. 

Otherwise you have  lot of kit on your list but if you can get it do. I think you are missing a development Machine, laptop for client visits and tablets/phones for testing



Phil Hobrla

I did end up getting a better quote from Hiscox but my dad is pretty adamant about my not needing liability insurance at this stage—I'll hold him to that. I noticed that the Hiscox quote form had some pretty good suggestions for what types of legal formwork I should be using, so I can have my dad modify his boilerplate for my use and make sure my project sign off sheet has my work being accepted "As is."

I have an Amazon Fire tablet and a Galaxy S5. Probably won't be getting an iPad just now as I can use an emulator.

My PC is a Dell Inspirion 13 2-in-1 with an i5 processor.

Christy Tucker

I don't know anyone who has actually had to use their liability insurance as an elearning freelancer (although maybe people are and just aren't talking about it). It's not that you'll need it. The LLC plus separating business and personal finances with separate checking accounts does give you a fair amount of protection.

However, having insurance shows companies you're a serious business, not just someone who's playing around with software. It also gives you more opportunities. Some companies won't work with you without proof of insurance.

If you're not getting it now, at least keep that expense in mind when you're bidding projects in the future. The original quote you got from Hiscox sounds right to me; I actually paid over twice that for a few years with another provider.

Bob S

Good luck on the new venture!

You may want to think about any marketing and business development related costs such as business cards, ad posting, attending networking events, travel costs to visit clients, etc. 

Also some folks will tell you to include the cost for your own time starting up.  There is an opportunity cost for the time you spend on the business that you could spend elsewhere on a second job for example. It's up to you but if you aren't at least tracking hours even at this stage then it's going to be hard to calculate true ROI.

Finally, more of the gear type stuff I think you were asking about might eventually include some studio equipment such as porta-booth, green screen, lighting, etc  and also access to media libraries for images, sound clips, and videos.

As others have said, you don't necessarily need all of these things right away to get started, but if you are making a comprehensive plan than they are worth keeping on the radar at least.

Hope this helps and good luck!

Richard Watson

A few more things but, most are mentioned in the earlier comments. 

  • Copier/Scanner/Fax/Printer (combo)
  • Cell phone and/or Landline
  • Adobe Creative Cloud (Photoshop/Lightroom), $99/year software subscription
  • Web Conferencing software (2-3 users free with WebEx) or something like Adobe Connect Meeting ($500/year)
  • Some money put aside to purchase graphic assets (I build into my estimates)
  • Will your bank support international wires if you intend on working with international clients. Something to consider when separating your business from personal account.
  • Credit card for use with business only
  • Do you have a system in place and the experience to manage your accounting/bookkeeping tasks? If not, consider looking into a small bookkeeper who can get you off on the right foot.
  • Additional taxes? (City, State, Feds, Self-Employment, Quarterly Taxes). In some places, you'll even have more hidden taxes that you'll need to be aware of.

I cover a few more items here >> that are both free and/or subscription-based if you're interested.

Also, don't forget to think about your marketing as someone mentioned earlier and what you should tracking for your business (Revenue, Expenses, Cash Flow), your short-term/long-term goals and core values. All of this plays into building a solid foundation for your new business! 

Best wishes for a successful launch.