Money sure can seem like it has a mind of its own sometimes! One minute it’s there, the next it’s gone. If you’re not careful, what you have will leave faster than you can bring more in.
The only way to maintain control over your money–in both your personal and business finances–is to have a budget.
The mere suggestion of doing a budget is enough to make a lot of business owners cringe. They may be great at building and running their company. They may even be the best at what they do. But when it comes to making a plan for their spending, they struggle.
The natural tendency is to spend first and ask questions later…which is why a lot of businesses always seem to be barely hanging on.
As personal finance guru Dave Ramsey puts it, “Children do what feels good. Adults devise a plan and follow it.”
Budgeting is simply planning ahead for how you will spend anticipated revenue. By assigning every dollar to a category of expenses each month, you’ll discover that it gives you freedom to spend within those categories without fear or guilt. Just imagine…finances without anxiety!
It doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, thanks to folks like Dave, there are plenty of tools available to make it easy. Here are a few tips we think you’ll find useful as you look toward managing your money better in 2021:
1. DON’T REINVENT THE WHEEL.
The days of writing out a budget on a legal pad or creating your own spreadsheet are no longer necessary. (Unless, of course, that works for you and you like to do it.) Take advantage of budgeting tools like EveryDollar from Ramsey Solutions. Even though it’s designed for personal finances, you can easily adapt it for your business.
2. START WITH THE MOST IMPORTANT THINGS
When building out your spending plan, list essential expenses first. These would be things like rent, utilities, insurance, payroll, etc. Things like office supplies and janitorial services, for example, can be put on hold or trimmed back if necessary.
3. MAKE A NEW BUDGET EVERY MONTH
Don’t expect to make one cookie-cutter plan for the entire year. You already know that no two months are the same in business, so no two budgets will be exactly the same. Make each month’s budget unique to what you anticipate your income and expenses to be for that month alone.
If you’ve been in business for a while, you probably already have a good idea of the typical ups and downs of your revenue stream. If you’re just starting out (or just starting to pay attention), it may take a few times to get it right. (See #3 above.)
4. BUILD A BUFFER
You want to assign every dollar to an expense category, but you also need to allow for unplanned expenditures. Create a small “Miscellaneous” category so you don’t have to “rob Peter to pay Paul” when the unexpected comes up.
5. GIVE IT TIME
If you’re new to budgeting, don’t expect to get it perfect the first time. It can often take a few months to dial it in to the reality of how your business operates. The more you do it, the easier it gets. Don’t let any initial frustration cause you to quit too soon. You’ll thank yourself later for hanging in there!
As you close the books on 2020 and look forward to 2021, why not start your business off on the best foot possible? A realistic budget is one of the best things you can do.
We’ve helped hundreds of businesses just like yours establish solid financial habits over the years (in addition to other services like payroll, tax planning, and accounting). If you’d like to see how we can partner with you to help you win in the coming year, give us a call!