How To Create a Small Business Budget

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Creating a business budget? Keep the following smart small business tips in mind when creating your small business budget.

Business owners are always searching for ways to save on expenses. There is a constant need to conserve on every aspect of their businesses because money is often tight when starting and expanding a business.

This is the reason that 70% of small business owners fail in their 10th year in business, according to Fundera.

Many business owners have budgets in place, but others are unaware of ways to maximize their resources. Effective budgeting starts with the identification of profit margins and the proper allocation of expenses where they are most needed.

If you have issues incorporating a budget plan or require a new approach, the following budgeting tips will assist you with correctly budgeting for your business essentials.

Tips When Creating a Small Business Budget

Keep the following smart small business tips in mind when creating your budget.

Step 1: Make a Budget for Each Department

Even as a small business, there is a tremendous benefit to dividing the budget into several different categories.  For instance, you may wish to begin by creating an IT budget.

You may wish to follow up with your advertising and promotional budget plan. This approach helps keep your plan specific while also giving the team members in charge of the various areas more flexibility and responsibility. No matter how you break it up, each budget should incorporate the following steps:

  1. Tally Your Income Sources
  2. Determine Fixed Costs
  3. Include Variable Expenses
  4. Predict One-Time Spends
  5. Pull It All Together

Step 2: Don’t Underestimate Expenses

Underestimating expenses in your business budget can have serious consequences for your business. Firstly, it can lead to a budget shortfall, which can affect your ability to meet your financial obligations, such as paying bills or making loan payments. This can ultimately harm your creditworthiness, making it harder to secure financing in the future. Additionally, underestimating expenses can also affect your ability to invest in growth opportunities, such as hiring new employees or expanding your product or service offerings.

Furthermore, underestimating expenses can also lead to unexpected costs and cash flow problems. For instance, if you underestimate your inventory costs, you may end up running out of stock and not being able to fulfill customer orders. Similarly, if you underestimate your marketing costs, you may not have enough budget to run effective campaigns, leading to a decline in sales.

Moreover, it’s important to have accurate budget projections as it helps in decision-making. If the budget doesn’t reflect the actual expenses, it can lead to wrong decisions, such as taking on too much debt or investing in projects that are not profitable.

Related: 6 Ways to Grow Your Business Fast

Step 3: Scrutinize Over All Expenses

Scrutinizing over all your business expenses when creating a budget is important because it allows you to have a clear understanding of where your money is going and to identify areas where you can cut costs. This can help you make more informed decisions about how to allocate your resources and prioritize your expenses.

For instance, by carefully reviewing all your expenses, you might find that a certain category of expenses, such as office supplies or travel expenses, is higher than it should be. By identifying and addressing these areas of overspending, you can free up funds to invest in more strategic initiatives or to pay off debt.

Additionally, scrutinizing over all expenses can also help identify areas where you can negotiate for better deals or look for more cost-effective alternatives. This could include negotiating with vendors for better prices, or finding more affordable options for things like office space or equipment.

Furthermore, scrutinizing over all expenses can also help identify and plan for unexpected expenses. This could include things like seasonal fluctuations in demand, unexpected repairs or maintenance, or changes in regulations that could increase costs. By accounting for these potential expenses in your budget, you can ensure that you have the resources to manage them when they occur.

Step 4: Make Sure Your Projections are Realistic

Cash flow projections account for a majority of small business budgeting, rather than actual cash flow.  Making sure your projections are correct is crucial. The overestimation of your cash flow will only result in false expectations.

Revisit and Revise Your Budget Monthly While this may seem obvious, it is important to note that you cannot rely solely on the original budget without updating it. Revisit and revise your small business budget monthly with updated cash flow projections.

Step 5: Reward Team Members

It can be challenging to stick to a business budget, and often using bonuses to your team for meeting budget objectives is a good incentive. Having an employee rewards program is can be very beneficial for your small business. Even if you have no employees, giving yourself a bonus will also help.

Related: 6 Creative Ways to Finance Your Business

Step 6: Analyze Risks

Aside from offering yourself performance-based incentives, use additional measures for motivation.  Analyze the potential risks if you do not adhere to your budget. Including failure to make payments, missing payroll, and debt-to-profit ratio. Remaining mindful of the possible risks connected to failing to follow your budget is a motivating factor to help you stay on track.

There are several steps you can take to analyze risk when you don’t meet your business budget:

  • Identify the root cause of the budget shortfall: Is it due to lower-than-expected sales, higher-than-expected expenses, or a combination of both?
  • Assess the potential impact of the budget shortfall on your business: Will it affect your ability to meet your financial obligations, such as paying bills or making loan payments? Will it affect your ability to invest in growth opportunities?
  • Analyze the potential risks associated with the budget shortfall: Are there any short-term or long-term risks to your business if the budget shortfall is not addressed?
  • Develop a plan to address the budget shortfall: Identify potential solutions, such as cost cutting measures, increasing sales, or seeking additional funding. Prioritize the solutions based on their potential impact and feasibility.
  • Monitor the progress of the plan and make adjustments as needed.
  • If it’s possible, communicate the situation to your stakeholders, customers and employees, and let them know how you’re going to address the situation and mitigate the risks.

Step 7: Plan for Major Purchases

When planning for major purchases as a business owner, it’s important to consider the overall financial health of your business and ensure that the purchase aligns with your overall business strategy and goals. Here are a few steps you can take to plan for major purchases when budgeting:

  • Assess the need: Before making any major purchase, it’s important to assess the need for the item or service and its potential impact on your business. Consider how it will help your business grow or improve its operations.
  • Research options: Research the various options available for the item or service you need, and compare prices, features, and reputation of different vendors.
  • Determine costs: Determine the total cost of the purchase, including any additional costs such as installation, maintenance, and warranties.
  • Review budget: Review your budget to ensure that the purchase fits within your financial capabilities. If necessary, you may need to adjust your budget or find ways to cut costs in other areas of your business to make room for the purchase.
  • Prioritize the purchase: Prioritize the purchase in relation to other planned expenses, and consider the timing of the purchase.
  • Create a plan to finance: If you are unable to pay cash for the purchase, create a plan to finance it. This could include taking out a loan or using a credit line.
  • Track the purchase: Once the purchase is made, track the performance and return of the investment to evaluate if it was a good decision.

By following these steps, you can plan for major purchases in a way that is financially responsible for your business and helps you achieve your goals.

Step 8: Categorize Essential and Secondary Expenses

Some expenses are essential to businesses when getting started, such as business letterhead, business cards, etc.  There are also expenses like rent/mortgage, payroll, bills, and taxes that are required to maintain your business. Weigh those expenses with those that are not needed to stay in business.

While it is okay to purchase some non-essential things from time to time, it is essential to refrain from these purchases when finances are questionable.

Related: Best Business Websites That Are Helping Startups

Step 9: Address Business Debt

Debt can be a looming cloud that hovers over a business. When planning for your budget, identify where there is extra capital that can be allocated toward paying off debt.

There are several ways to address business debt, including:

  • Develop a debt repayment plan: Create a plan that outlines how much and when you will pay off your debt, and stick to it.
  • Negotiate with creditors: Reach out to your creditors and see if they are willing to negotiate a lower interest rate or a more flexible repayment plan.
  • Consolidate debt: Consider consolidating multiple loans or credit card balances into one loan with a lower interest rate.
  • Increase revenue: Consider ways to increase your revenue, such as expanding your product or service offerings, increasing sales, or finding new customers.
  • Reduce expenses: Review your expenses and see if there are any areas where you can cut costs, such as reducing your inventory, renegotiating vendor contracts, or outsourcing certain tasks.
  • Seek professional help: Consider hiring a financial advisor or a debt counselor to help you develop a plan and guide you through the process.
  • Consider debt restructuring: Restructuring debt can include options such as refinancing, debt forgiveness, debt rescheduling, debt rollover, debt conversion, and debt write-off, which are some of the options to consider.
  • Consider bankruptcy as a last resort: When all the other options have been exhausted and there’s no other way to pay off the debt, you can consider filing for bankruptcy. However, it is a drastic measure and will have long-term consequences, so it should be considered as a last resort.

Step 10: Initiate a Savings Plan

If you spend all your profits as soon as they come in, it will be impossible to prepare for the unexpected expenses that tend to arise. It will also make it difficult to scale and expand your business. These things require that your company maintains excess capital in anticipation of the unexpected. Setting some of your profits aside for these occurrences is advised by creating a budgeting plan.

Related: 11 Steps to Starting Your Own Business

Ready to Create Your Business Budget?

The best way to get started with your budget plan is to set aside some time and sit down and begin the planning process. You understand best how your company should operate.

You are also aware of the cost of the expenses that your company will incur during the various phases your business will undergo. After you have your small business budget in order to spend some time figuring out how you can best lower your business expenses.

FAQ

What is a small business budget and why is it important?

A small business budget is a financial plan that outlines projected income and expenses for a specific period of time, such as a month or a year. It is important because it helps a business owner understand how much money they have available to operate and grow the business, and also serves as a tool for monitoring and controlling expenses.

How do I create a small business budget?

To create a small business budget, you will need to gather information about your projected income and expenses. Start by creating a list of all your fixed expenses, such as rent or mortgage payments, insurance, and salaries. Next, estimate your variable expenses, such as marketing and advertising costs, and any other expenses that may change from month to month. Finally, project your income based on your sales forecast, and compare it to your expenses to determine if you will have a profit or a loss.

What types of expenses should I include in my small business budget?

You should include all expenses that are necessary for the operation and growth of your business. This includes fixed expenses such as rent or mortgage payments, insurance, and salaries, as well as variable expenses such as marketing and advertising costs, supplies, and any other expenses that may change from month to month.

How can I accurately forecast my income and expenses?

To accurately forecast your income and expenses, you should base your projections on historical data, industry trends, and any other relevant information. Additionally, you should review your budget regularly and make adjustments as necessary based on actual results.

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About the author

Brian Meiggs
Brian Meiggs
Brian Meiggs is a personal finance expert, and the founder of My Millennial Guide, a personal finance site helping you put more money in your pocket. He helps millennials follow the smart money in order to increase their earning potential and start building wealth for the future. He regularly writes about side hustles, investing, and general personal finance topics aimed to help anyone earn more, pay off debt, and reach financial freedom. He has been quoted as a top personal finance blogger in major publications including Yahoo! Finance, NASDAQ, Discover, MSN Money and more.
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