Budgeting can be critical to the success or failure of a small business. Where as a big company or corporation might have some leeway in their budget, provided by significant assets, cash reserves, additional credit lines or diversification of investments, a small business is often limited in its ability to weather fierce financial storms and downturns. With many small businesses barely scraping enough sales together to make it month-to-month, the ability to budget effectively and accurately can be crucial to how a small business conducts its operations and whether it survives to see another year.
1. Forecasting: Forecasting projected sales and expenses for the future can be instrumental in the construction of a small business budget. These numbers can give you a better idea of where the business’ financial future is headed, what to base a budget upon, and allow you to then break down your numbers into budgetary expense lines, assigning to each line a budgeted amount.
2. Review Historical Data: Taking previous years’ numbers into account when creating a budget can be helpful in getting a feel for how much a business spends and upon what. Not only can this provide a glimpse into the expenses your business might encounter in a typical year, but might also provide insight to rises or dips when it comes to seasonal factors or industry trends that could better help you plan for months where you might need to tighten your business’ belt a bit or when you can splurge a little.
3. Consider Industry Trends and Diversification: When you budget for your small business, it can be important to take into account industry trends and consider ways to diversify. With technology constantly changing and advancing, it’s important to look at ways your industry might change or ways in which you may be able to adjust your business to meet new market needs. Considering such developments might enable you to pad your budget a bit to allow more leeway to meet these needs or make such adjustments.
4. Wiggle Room: You never know when an emergency could occur or an unexpected drop in revenue could leave you searching for a little extra room in your budget to keep your business afloat. Consider aspects outside your realm of control that could affect your business’ income, expenses or ability to operate, and consider giving yourself a budgetary cushion in the event things don’t go as expected.
5. Pertinent People: While you might be the person creating your small business’ budget, this doesn’t mean that there aren’t other people in your operation that might have valuable input to contribute to the creation of that budget. There could be department heads, managers, accountants, and similar pertinent people that you might invite to offer their expertise and knowledge to help you formulate the best budget for your business.
6. Explain Your Budget: A budget may not be worth the paper it’s printed on if you don’t have the rest of your business’ team on board with making it a success. If others don’t know how to contribute to the meeting of a budget, you might find yourself in a loosing battle to make your budgeted numbers a reality. A meeting in which the budget is explained, as well as one that ensures the pertinent people of your business understand how they can make a difference can help align the stars when it comes to meeting your budget’s numbers.
7. Set Goals: Just because you’ve explained your budget to the relevant parties involved in your business’ operations doesn’t necessarily mean they will care about or abide by it. Setting goals for your team members to achieve regarding the portion of the budget that they affect or even assigning bonuses based upon budgetary expectations can have the members of your business who have the greatest impact upon the budget making sure they stand up and take notice.
8. Revisit Your Budget: Creating a budget and then just sitting back and hoping all goes to plan is not usually the best way to ensure a budget’s success. It is often critical to the success of a budget that it is revisited, revised and updated on a regular basis.
9. A Backup Plan: Having a backup plan in the event that things don’t pan out when it comes to your budget can help keep you and your business out of financial trouble. A cash reserve, knowing what expenses can be cut in a pinch or where adjustments can be made in the budget to squeeze out another dollar or two can help you maintain business as usual even if there is a flaw in your budget or you aren’t making the numbers you expected.
10. Understand Assets and Asset Allocation: In the event of a budgetary crisis, you may be forced to call upon means that you might not have expected to need. Understanding where your assets lie and how accessible they are can provide your business with the ability to outlast a budget crisis should one occur and allow you to know how long and how effectively you might be able to survive such a crisis.
This article was contributed by Tom Becker, a personal finance writer at Money Choices where he impartially reviews financial products.