Business Budgeting For Success

Understanding Business Budgeting

Does your business budget for success?

A successful business needs the solid foundations of sound financial management built into its overall strategy.  Finances should underpin every aspect of its work.  Activities need to be planned and costed, so resources are properly considered.

“Failing to plan is planning to fail,” Benjamin Franklin; “Those who fail to learn from the past are doomed to repeat it.” Winston Churchill.  

Franklin and Churchill, two iconic men whose words that apply to budgeting.  Budgeting is a powerful approach, underused in the SME world; Budgeting is big deal when it comes to planning, control, and decision-making.

What is The budget?

The budget is the document which translates your planned business journey into a financial plan. 

A powerful budget…

• is prepared in advance

• may be revised monthly

• explains the costs of business activities

• is based on action plans

• is a monitoring tool

• forecasts all expenses

• needs to be transparent

• may be long-term or short-term



Start by making a list of the cost headings ln linked to your business or project, just writing a shopping list. Consider one off costs, such as capital costs like furniture and computers.

Consider your ongoing expenses, such as rent, salaries, and utility costs.

Now make a list of all likely income headings, such as product sales, grants and donations.


Estimate the cost of each expenditure item, be realistic.  Mr Google can be you friend here, ask him.

It’s helpful to look at expenses as fixed or variable:

• Fixed: these remain the same throughout the year and are unaffected by business activity e.g. rent and salaries

• Variable: these fluctuate according to levels of business activity e.g. material costs change according to levels of sales.

Make a note of how you worked out each figure, plus items you’re not sure about.  No notes mean you will have to rely on your memory to know remembering what assumptions you made – enough said!

Now repeat the process for each major source of income: estimate the income from each source. Make notes on how each figure was arrived at. If it’s a guess or broad estimate, say so.


Your staff and management should be part of the budget conversation, so share.  Make sure you talk to those responsible for delivering specific parts of the service.

Check on the items you weren’t sure about. Is more information needed to improve the accuracy of the estimates?

Revise your notes. People should understand where all the figures have come from, rather than just trust you with the finances.


 If income is less than expenditure? What will you do about it?

What if your income doesn’t materialise, and you have a shortfall? What action would you take?    Would you scale down an activity? Would you cut costs? Delay spending?

Should you plan for other unexpected circumstances?


 The budget is ultimately agreed by the senior management team.


Keep an eye on the reality of income and costs against what you thought would happen.  Where there are material differences between reality and plan, find out why and react accordingly. 

We’d love to help

Contact us to see how we can help you with your business numbers.

We can have a cup of (virtual or real) coffee, biscuit and a chat about where we can support your business.

Our team have created a wonderful free Budgeting Guide to help you.  We used an Arts business to illustrate, but there’s lots of good takeaways for all Business.

Pro Active Resolutions: The Numbers Guys, Turning Budgeting Frowns into Smiles

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