The new year brings opportunities to make your small business more successful. There’s no better place to start than with your annual budget. It encapsulates your revenue and expense expectations in a single spreadsheet. Here are some handy tips for creating your new budget:
Analyze last year’s budget:
How closely did your estimates match actual experience? You probably under- or over-estimated at least some of your cash flows. Learn from your mistakes to set your numbers more realistically, wishful thinking aside. If your data shows a trend throughout the year, incorporate it into the new budget. Some numbers are harder to estimate – if you have a lot of these, try doing a best-, worst- and average-case version of the budget.
Break it up:
You should break down your annual numbers into monthly ones. This gives you the ability to incorporate seasonal differences that more closely match your cash flows. It also lets you apply actuals and revise numbers based on experience.
Budget in a cash cushion:
A good budget will incorporate a cash cushion to help you survive sudden crunches. Near-cash securities such as T-Bills are a fine place to stash the extra cash. Even if it’s an unusual year that doesn’t see unpleasant surprises, extra cash will certainly come in handy sooner or later.
Do you find setting up and working a budget confusing? Don’t fumble through it. There are many resources available to you to assist. We recommend our Business Budget Smart Sheet, which will help you analyze your spending patterns, streamline areas of overspending, gauge the cash flow impact of fixed and variable costs, and much more. If you need more help, speak with your accountant or tax specialist.
Are you selling more units each month and losing money on each sale? Bite the bullet and raise your prices (and slash your expenses). Calculate your new revenues based on higher prices and incorporate into your budget. Do the same when you reduce expenses. For example, you might find it cheaper to subcontract out some of the work that you currently do in-house. Your budget should reflect your best ideas for making a profit.
Create recession contingency budget:
At the time of writing, the U.S. is enjoying a growing economy. What would happen to your business if we suddenly fell into a recession? It will happen sooner or later, and you’d best be prepared by creating a recession budget as a contingency. The recession budget is based on conserving cash in the face of lower demand for your product or service.
Remember, budgets are planning tools, not straightjackets. Remain flexible, and you can always turn to IOU Financial if you find yourself short of cash despite your best planning.