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Budget Your Small Business the Easy Way 1-2-3

Setting up a business budget will of course help you organize your finances, but ultimately it will help you save money too.

By monitoring how much money is coming in and where it is going out, you can regulate and adjust accordingly without being completely blind to what is going on.

A business budget lets you know how much money you are able to spend to meet your company net profit goals. Yes, budgeting can help entrepreneurs cut back on wasteful or unnecessary costs, but it does not mean less value is given to customers.

It can actually result in the opposite. Business owners are better able to make quick, smart decisions and work more efficiently.

How to Set up a Business Budget Worksheet:

A worksheet can be simple or comprehensive, depending on your company and how complex you decide to make it. A basic worksheet consists of sections or columns dedicated to start-up costs (for new businesses) and regular ongoing operating costs. These expenses can include, but are not limited to business equipment, office supplies, inventory, shipping costs, furniture, licenses and permits, leases, utility costs, travel and transportation costs, employee benefits, insurance, legal and accounting fees, salaries, entertainment and advertising and marketing costs.

Budgets also cover income. If your company is new, you can make a realistic projection, drawn from your market research. You can make adjustments on a monthly basis, and if revenue climbs upward, you will have a larger budget to play with. Getting figures down on paper gives owners an outline to follow and helps them make changes and adjustments to their operations before it is too late.

Another section you want to include on your budget is the "actual" expenditure column. You can see where your money is really going and how closely you are matching your projected goals.

How to Figure Out Your Start-Up Costs:

If you need to do some market research prior to compiling your budget, consider viewing sample business plans online. These plans are outlines of what other entrepreneurs have spent or are planning to spend starting their ventures. You can find sample plans in a variety of different industries, so you can closely match your business type. Business plans usually include a start-up and projected operating budget, and the Palo Alto Software website has some available for viewing at no charge to visitors.

For information on license and permit cost, make a quick phone call to your local city or county office. Some cities have the details listed online at their websites. See what office or storefront leases run in your area and call around for equipment and supply prices, etc. You can get price quotes from professionals on services like insurance and accounting or find this information online for free.

Don't be afraid to approach other local business owners in your like or work. They can provide valuable insight on things like what the monthly utility bill costs, what wages employees expect and typical advertising costs. It does not hurt to ask questions, and you can end up with a lot of time-saving and money-saving advice.

What if you discover that your business budget is out of your price range? Now might be a good time to begin your business part-time or on a smaller scale ( it is better than finding this out after you have launched a full-fledged operation). Start building up reserve funds for unexpected costs or in case of emergencies as well.

A projected business budget will not necessarily end up matching your business income and expenses. However, this planning strategy helps your company run at peak performance. Budgets can always be adjusted and tweeked when needed, but the first step is to create one.

See also: Start-up Costs Worksheet

Getting Started:

When you set up a budget, begin with a spreadsheet or some sort of budgeting software that helps you keep everything organized with minimal effort. If you already have accounting software, like Quickbooks Pro, you can use the same software to prepare your budget without having to buy new software (hint hint!).

When initially inputting guidelines into your spreadsheet, be flexible and allow some slack, as there may be some unexpected expenses. Look for ways you can cut costs by combining services or switching the service providers.

Reviewing Your Budget:

Make a plan to review your budget on a routine basis so that you can revise it and make changes as you need to - and of course check to make sure you are staying within your budget.

That said, budgets are not meant to be followed to the T. They are usually ever-changing but are a way you can better track your finances and end up ahead in the long run.

Simple Budgeting Tools:

Below are some software programs and worksheets that can better guide you in the budget set-up process. Free templates can work just as well as paid software programs, especially for simple budgeting tasks. The key is to have a goal, make a plan and then stick with it.

T I P : Home & Business Budgeting Software
All-in-one programs: set budget, organize expenses, manage bookkeeping for business and home. See also Free Budget Templates for tracking personal expenses.

Microsoft Office Budgeting Tools:

set up a budget If you already own Microsoft Office software, you can download the following budget templates for free and then input your own data:

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