business budget categories for online service providers

15 Best Budget Categories for Online Service Providers

July 7, 2022

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This post contains some affiliate links, while it does not increase your cost at all I do receive a small commission for the research I did to bring you these resources. That said, all opinions are my own and I only recommend products I love and use myself!

When thinking about creating a budget for your small business there are a few things to consider first:

  • What do you want your budget to DO for you
  • Why it matters
  • Next, what should be included

That’s what this week’s post is all about. Using the correct small business budget categories will go a long way towards making sure that you are accurately considering the true costs of running your business, will make your accountant love you at tax time, and help you prepare for future growth!

Business Budget Categories: What are we talking about

business budget categories

You probably already know what section should be in your budget (income, expenses, taxes, profit, owner salary) but today we’re talking about something else. Today it’s about which business budget categories you need to make sure you’re considering when you are tallying everything up!

You see, when we are thinking about costs we very often forget to include all the things that we should. It’s ok, it happens to us all, especially those pesky ones that only come up once per year! That’s why having a small business budget is so important! So let’s talk about which business budget categories you should be making sure you have addressed.

15 BUSINESS BUDGET CATEGORIES: COMMON ITEMS TO CONSIDER

This list covers all the most common business budget categories for an online service provider.

  1. Accounting Software – whether you use QuickbooksFreshbooksXero, or something else you need to be tracking your finances (and by extension your business budget categories). You don’t have to do the management yourself, you can always pay for fractional CFO services. I personally do all my books and my client work in Xero. It’s most cost-effective and plays a LOT nicer with PayPal.
  2. Advertising & Marketing – think Facebook ads, Google ads, and other things like podcast placements, wedding shows, etc. Frequently an item that the inexperienced like to cut down on…to their own detriment. This could also include photography sessions or purchased stock photographylanding page services, etc.
  3. Bank Charges & Fees – You should NOT be using a bank account for your business that charges fees. I recently started using Novo and it’s incredible. Not only does it have zero fees but it’s a business partner with Stripe so you pay less processing fees when using Stripe for payments as well. Win-win!
  4. Contractors – these are the support folks you have that either do one-off work for you or you pay monthly on a retainer basis. Think virtual assistants, bookkeepers, online business managers, ghostwriters, etc.
  5. Insurance – do you have insurance for your business? If it’s not something you’ve ever considered you may want to. There’s a great article you can read here about all the different types of insurance you may want to think about. Especially as a business owner, you want to protect your income and your personal assets as well. I personally go through Biberk.
  6. Job Supplies – are there specific supplies you need to create your product or service? This could include a course delivery platform (my favorite after trying them ALL is Kartra), design software, Adobe, Canva, social media schedulers, or any other thing you need to actually complete the work.
  7. Legal & Professional Services – This is for the attorney you use to create your LLC or your client contracts (please tell me you are using contracts!). It can also include your CPA for your taxes. If you need help with contracts there are some amazing contract templates you can get at The Contract Shop!
  8. Meals & Entertainment – Do you meet with your clients in person? Do you chat over coffee? This category covers those things. If you do this often it should absolutely be included in your budget! (P.S. Including these categories in your budget does not mean they are all tax-deductible. Meals can be, entertainment is not).
  9. Office Supplies & Equipment – this is all the stuff you need to do the regular ol’ business stuff: computer, email distribution providerwebsite hostingCanvadomain hostingsocial media scheduler, etc.
  10. Other Business Expenses – This is for other stuff that you don’t see listed and most often for entrepreneurs you should be thinking about education here. Business coaching, learning a new skill, getting a new certification, etc.
  11. Rent &/or Lease – if you have a brick-and-mortar space this is for you. There are very strict guidelines about whether you can do this if you work from home so please check with your CPA about whether your space qualifies for this taxwise.
  12. Repairs & Maintenance – If you have the equipment you will eventually need to replace it: computer, microphone, headphones, camera, other tools used to create products, etc. Save for this stuff now in your budget so you don’t have to scramble when it happens
  13. Taxes & Licenses – Do you pay annual business license fees, LLC fees, and licensure fees for your certifications or license to practice your work? Include these here as well as what you should set aside for your taxes. In the US, most small businesses should file taxes quarterly, so you should invest in a CPA as one of your first contractors! You do NOT want to figure this out on your own. It’s a hassle. 
  14. Travel – Do you see clients in person? There are rules around business travel and you can discuss those with your CPA but it is well worth exploring if traveling is a key component of your business. Even if you’re not wanting the write-off taxwise (although if you can, you should!) If you want to go to a fun conference or retreat, think about placing some money aside for it!
  15. Utilities – again, straightforward if you are a brick-and-mortar business; check with CPA for home utility write-off options. 

BUSINESS BUDGET CATEGORIES: NOT JUST FOR BILLS BUT FOR SAVINGS TOO

business budget categories

Whoo! I know that was a big list! You may not have current expenses (aka bills) in each category and that’s ok. Don’t sign up for more bills just because you have business budget categories to fill. The list is for you to make sure you aren’t forgetting anything important!

Small business budget categories are not just for bills though, you should also make sure you are saving for future expenses. If you have annual bills that are due, make sure you are setting aside a monthly amount so that the money will be there when you need it. If you want to buy a new computer next year, price it and then calculate how much you need to save.

BUSINESS BUDGET CATEGORIES: FINAL THOUGHTS

No matter which small business budget categories you use the most it is important to cover all your expenses in your monthly budget somewhere. If you only plan for what is “due” that month you will fall victim to a classic error that will have you scrambling, ill-prepared, and likely out of business.

And remember you don’t have to track all of your expenses yourself. One of the first things you can and should outsource is your bookkeeping and finding yourself a good CPA. In fact, you can hire someone who will manage the whole financial aspect of your business for you! If you are ready to have the details handled by a pro, then book a call to find out how I can help!

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how to know what to budget for

The comprehensive guide of budget categories you should consider when creating your budget as an online service provider

Hey, I’m Sarah, Your New CFO.

I help take the confusion out of finance . 

I've spent more than 15 years working in both the corporate and small business sector helping businesses both large and small find creative and new ways to save money while increasing value and profits. 
And nothing gets me more excited than helping small business owners create more profitable businesses.
Why? Because I know exactly what that means for you. It means more time to call your own, more trips, more time with your kids, less time worrying about money. 
I founded Leo & Vern in honor of my grandpa, my favorite person ever, who used his knowledge as an accountant to leave a legacy behind for our family. So to me, carrying on his legacy of helping others create their own legacy? Priceless.






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