How to save and budget for a start-up

To give your business the best chance of success, it’s important to start with a clear idea of the costs involved – both to start the business, and then to keep it running.

Saving for your start up

Before you start your new business venture, you’ll need the funds to get it going and savings in the bank to pay expenses and wages (for yourself and staff) during the first 6-12 months of operations. It’s also important that you have a savings history before you apply for a loan.

For more information about how to prepare a personal budget and start saving (before you start building a budget for your business), download Westpac’s Financial First Steps guide here.

Budgeting for your business

Your business start-up costs will vary depending on whether you’re starting from scratch, taking over an existing business, or have specific industry-related costs. Regardless of what kind of business you are starting, you’ll need to understand the following in order to prepare your budget:

  1. Start-up costs
  2. Operating costs
  3. Your break-even point.

Start up costs

You’ll need to do your research to establish how much money you’ll need to start your business. To find out what you’ll need:

  • Put together a business plan and consider making an appointment to speak with a business banker or an accountant. They will be able to give you an overview of what your set up costs may be for the first 12 months;
  • Talk to people who are running similar ventures about what costs you might expect;
  • Contact industry associations and online forums, which are also good sources of information and arenas where people share information; and
  • Consider attending a presentation, or completing a workshop on developing a business plan. These can provide useful hints, tips and tools on how to get started.

Operating costs

It’s a good idea to split your costs between ongoing and one-off costs. This will also help if you overestimate costs, so there are no major surprises later in the year.

One-off costs should include everything necessary to get the business ready for trading on day one.

To manage ongoing costs, you should consider developing a cash flow forecast. This will give you a sense of when money is both flowing in and out of your business over the coming 12 months.

Breaking even

Break-even is the point at which you cover all of your costs and start making a profit. What you need to understand is how your costs behave in relation to your sales. Some of your costs will increase as your sales increase. These are your variable costs. The rest of your costs will remain constant over a range of sales. These are your fixed costs.

Once you know your break-even point, you can more accurately plan how many sales you need to achieve in order to start making a profit. This will be of great assistance when you are planning your business set up costs.

Remember to be realistic in your planning and allow some space in your calculations for unforeseen expenses.


Every business has different set up requirements, but we’ve prepared a checklist to help you understand some of the costs you may need to factor in. Download the checklist here.



If you’re eager to learn how to bank, save and budget for your business (and life!), the following resources will help you take the first step on the path to a confident financial future.

Ginigoada Bisnis Development Foundation

Funded by the Australian Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), this non-government organisation facilitates short-term skills development for people in PNG’s National Capital District.
Phone: +675 7200 0777

National Centre for Small Microfinance Development (NCSMED)

NCSMED provides business support programs to people wanting to start or expand their own business. Visit their website for more information, including a wealth of startup information.

Westpac Financial Literacy Workshops

Westpac runs a number of free financial literacy workshops. To sign up for a Financial First Steps or Business Basics workshop, drop into your local Westpac branch or contact a specialist. Westpac also offers bank accounts which have low opening and account fees – always ask about low fee options as this can really help you save more for your business.


Note: Westpac has offices in PNG and Fiji, so much of the content on this site relates to these countries. We hope, though, that it is useful for all women entrepreneurs across the Pacific and beyond.

We welcome your feedback on additional resources or contacts that would help to improve Pacific Women in Business. Please contact us with your ideas and feedback.