The costs of business can be roughly categorised into one-off and ongoing costs. For instance, a freelancer setting up for the first time is likely to have many more one-off costs than someone in their sixth year of business.

You know this already, but it’s worth saying: many one-off costs are not truly one-offs – laptops need replacing periodically, office equipment might need to be upgraded, etc.

It’s worth knowing that average sole trader expenses are around £5,000 and 70% declare expenses under £10,000. It’s safe to say these things add up.

The below lists are incomplete and not sector-specific, so your mileway will vary.


  • Stationary (pens, journals, notebooks, paper)
  • Office equipment (e.g. printer)
  • Desk (< £1,000 for a standing desk)
  • Chair (< £1,000 for a top-level ergonomic chair)
  • Laptop/computer
  • Work phone (pro tip: use an old one)
  • Website (if hiring a professional)
  • Branding (if hiring a professional)
  • Contracts
  • Privacy Policy, Terms & Conditions (website)


  • Office rent
  • Public liability insurance
  • Professional indemnity insurance (£10–15/month, North America cover might add £50/month)
  • Contents insurance
  • Subscriptions to professional groups (likely to be inexpensive individually, but they add up)
  • Website domain name + hosting (probably £100-ish per year)
  • Website subscription (e.g. Squarespace, might be £10–30/month)
  • Other marketing: business cards, ads, other subscriptions
  • Mailing list provider (many are free until 1,000 subscribers)
  • Software subscriptions: will vary but could total anything between £50–£250/month depending on what you do and need
  • Accountant: starts at about £150 per year

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