The cost of doing business

Malini DevadasBlog

It costs money to run a business. Of course, we want to keep these costs to a minimum, as the more we spend the less profit we have. However, avoiding all spending can cost us in other ways.

The most common way new business owners try to save money is to do all the admin work themselves. I do think this makes sense in the early stages, as you need to be sure you can actually generate income before you can pay other people. (As an aside, it can take years before you are earning regular income through your business, which I think is something most people don’t realise.) However, the difficulty comes when you are busy with billable work. Suddenly you are up all hours of the night or working on weekends to do your bookkeeping or update your website. Or maybe you take the opposite approach which is to stop looking at your finances, no longer do any marketing and let the admin go altogether. At some point you will have to deal with the consequences of this, which will in turn take more of your time. You feel tired and it starts to affect the energy and enthusiasm you have for your editing work. 

The other consequence of doing it all is that you are probably not making the best use of resources. Are you a great web designer? Is it worth spending hours and hours of your precious time learning how to wrangle WordPress? Would you pay someone your hourly rate to muck around on software they don’t know much about? Probably not. Personally I prefer to hire local people, to support the local economy. However, if this is outside your budget for now, there are a number of online services where you can find experts in all sorts of fields who will do the work you need much faster than you could do it yourself and at a lower rate than what you are charging your own clients. So at some stage it’s probably worth considering outsourcing some of the tasks you are not so good at, to ensure they get done properly and efficiently while you focus on your client work.

With so few inhouse jobs in publishing these days, it can be hard to get experience before launching a business. I do believe it is important to have some formal training, and for most of us these days this comes in the form of editing courses and events such as conferences. Even editors who have worked for decades still invest in professional development. Style guides change, technology moves at a rapid pace and marketing norms shift over time. If we don’t keep up and grow our skills then we can start to lose our confidence. Also, we are competing against increasing numbers of editing professionals who may have more up-to-date skills. For this reason, I do encourage editors to try to get to conferences and workshops when they can, whether they be online or in-person. Attending live events is also a great way to connect with other editors.

The final thing I commonly see is business owners not taking time to work ON the business. I don’t mean the admin side (covered above) but the strategy side. Have you ever sat down to think about the type of work you really want, the income you really desire and your reasons for starting the business in the first place? Most of us are so busy in our lives that we find it hard to schedule time for these activities. However, I think it is critical to stop and think about what our purpose is. As a mindset coach I can say that knowing your values is an important part of setting up a business in a way that works best for you and your circumstances.

All of these issues make it even more important to ensure that the rates you are charging are sufficient to cover the true costs of running a business. Otherwise you may find that you are working long hours with little to show for it, financially speaking.

I’m giving a money mindset workshop at the 2019 SfEP mini-conference in Toronto, on 5 November. During this three-hour workshop, you will have time to think about what you want from your business as well as learn more about what has been stopping you from achieving it. Find out more about the workshop and the one-day conference that follows at

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