“You've just purchased or opened a small business and you know your trade. However, when it comes to bookkeeping – and more specifically, budgeting – your skill set is lacking. The good news is that it is possible to come up with a budget, or at least a good estimation of what will be needed in terms of dollars and cents fairly easily.”
Estimating and matching expenses to revenue (real or anticipated) is vital. This exercise helps small business owners to determine whether they have enough money to fund operations, expand the business and generate income. Investopedia says in its article “6 steps to a better business budget” that without a budget or a plan, a business runs the risk of spending more money than it’s taking in, or not spending enough money to grow the business and compete successfully.
Every business owner will have a somewhat different process, situation or way of budgeting. However, every business owner should consider the mortgage, utility bills, payroll expenses, cost of goods sold, expenses (raw materials), interest, tax payments and any other costs specifically associated with the business, when setting up or taking over an existing business.
A business that’s already up and running can make assumptions of future revenue based on recent trends in the business. If it’s a startup, you'll have to make assumptions based on your geographic area, hours of operation and research of other local businesses.
After you have this information, you should then match the business's revenue with expenses. Calculate what an average weekly expense would be for overhead, utilities, labor, raw materials, etc. Based on this information, you may then be able to estimate whether you'll have enough extra money to expand the business, or to save. Similarly, owners may see that to have three employees instead of two, they’ll have to generate more in revenue each week.
Use these six tips to help you put together a small business budget:
- Industry Standards. Conduct some research for data about the industry, speak with local business owners, visit the local library, and look at the IRS web site to get an idea of what percentage of the revenue coming in will likely be allocated toward cost groupings. Small businesses can be extremely volatile, since they are more susceptible to industry downturns than larger, more diversified competitors.
- Create a Spreadsheet. Prior to buying or opening a business, make a spreadsheet to estimate what total dollar amount and percentage of your revenue will need to be allocated toward raw materials and other costs. Talk with any suppliers you'd have to work with before you continue. Do the same thing for rent, taxes, insurance, etc.
- Add in Some Breathing Room. While you may estimate that the business will generate a certain rate of revenue growth going forward or that certain expenses will be fixed or can be controlled, these are never set in stone. Factor in some slack and make certain that you have more than enough money saved or coming in, prior to expansion or adding new employees.
- Cost-cutting. Review items that can largely be controlled. You should also wait to make purchases until the start of a new billing cycle, or take full advantage of payment terms offered by suppliers and creditors. A little maneuvering could give a business owner some much needed breathing and expansion room.
- Review the Business. Although many firms draft an annual budget, small business owners should do so this more often. It’s not uncommon for small business owners to plan only a month or two ahead, because business can be quite volatile and unexpected expenses can ruin revenue assumptions.
- Keep an Eye Out for Less Expensive Services and Suppliers. Don't be afraid to shop around for new suppliers or to save money on other services being used by your business.
Budgeting is easy, but it’s an essential process that business owners use to forecast (and then match) current and future revenue to expenses. Make certain that enough money is available to keep the business operating, to grow the business, to compete and to ensure a solid emergency fund.
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Reference: Investopedia (June 26, 2018) “6 steps to a better business budget”
Suggested Key Terms: Business Planning, Financial Planning