You probably already know – budgeting is really, really important to project & control your cash flow.
Many business owners have either created a budget or regularly get one delivered by their bookkeeper or accountant. Unfortunately most do not habitually use it to assess their progress and clarify what is really happening in their business.
The reason in many cases is feeling buried by the day-to-day workload and demands of running the operations or responding to fires. Sound familiar? Even worse, many describe feeling out of control as a chronic source of stress.
What if you turned your budget into a simple dashboard of strategic indicators?
Using a simple process to establish new habits could transform your budgeting time from a burden to a liberating discipline you use to propel your business towards your vision.
Today, I’m going to share a simple 3 step process that’s totally addictive because it makes budgeting monthly to project & control your cash flow feel like a clarifying and energizing practice. It looks like this:
1. Forecast. 2. Measure + Review. 3. Rework.
The forecasting process helps you think about your future and plan your next steps. You can create a budget for many things – projects, departments, revenue centers or your entire business. Design the budget you are creating to meet the unique needs of your business.
Start by identifying your priority goals and what you need to make them happen, then set realistic timeframes for each. Budgeting is about proactively identifying what you need in terms of resources to get the results you want and then looking ahead to forecast your revenue and costs in a realistic way. That’s it.
I use Sage 50 accounting software to streamline this process because it lets you export a budget template into an excel format you can fill in. Once complete you can then import your numbers back in to create your budget. It’s convenient and it saves time.
The most common challenge with budgeting is being able to forecast an uncertain future because things change so quickly. Precision matters in execution but for budgeting what is more important is getting into the habit of thinking ahead about your operations and what you’re going to require that will impact your finances.
Measure + Review
Customize the report settings in your accounting software to give you the actionable data you need to measure your progress + review your strategies.
Sage 50 includes over 100-preformatted reports you can modify to suit your core needs.
The main financial reports to review are your income statement, balance sheet and cash flow statement. If you’re managing projects you’ll also probably want to review the actual vs. budget details for the projects you have in progress.
Establishing a regular habit of measuring + reviewing your progress towards your goals gives you the structure to think about your priorities, goals, systems and resources. It helps you steer spending, coordinate resources and focus on what matters most to achieve your short-term objectives.
And because every number represents a tangible part of your business – reviewing what you are measuring will give you insight into whether what’s happening is having the right impact and where you need make changes.
Based on over 20 years of managing books for business owners, I’ve found reviewing your numbers monthly or bi-monthly works most effectively to give you the flexibility to rework your numbers proactively.
The timeframe is up to you, but I’ve found this timeframe works to adapt to change, adjust priorities and manage spending based on what is actually happening.
It’s important to remember, you don’t have to stick to the budget every month. Your budget is intended to support you and your vision. It’s a versatile tool. Let it evolve with your business as it grows.
Regularly measuring, reviewing + reworking your numbers will force you to make key financial decisions, correct course when needed and lead your business where you want to go.
To sum it all up: budgeting requires you to dig into what’s working and what’s not on a regular basis to stay in control of your business – no matter what industry you’re in.
And with the right mindset – you can establish new habits to make the budgeting process an uplifting experience that moves you step by step towards creating the business you really want.
In the comments below I’d love to hear:
How do you use budgeting to control & project your cash flow?
I look forward to connecting with you in the comments. And if you need assistance in using budgeting more effectively for your business contact me for a free consult. I’d love to help.
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