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Creating a Business Budget

Getting Into Business for the First Time: Know the Basics

small business budgetPeople start businesses for all sorts of reasons, usually it is either because:

  • They can’t stand having a boss anymore, or
  • They lost their job or
  • They have a great idea


But it is safe to also assume that most new entrepreneurs do not go into business for themselves because they like crunching numbers. In fact, often the opposite is true: they crunch the numbers because they have to, because that is what is required when you run a business, but it is a task that is endured, not enjoyed.

This is all the more true when it comes to creating a budget. More mature businesses, businesses that have been around, say, five years or more, know the value of a business budget and as such, create and live with them.

But rare is the new business that creates and works within a budget. Oh sure, they may have a general idea of what is coming in and what is going out, but that is not the same as working within an actual budget. And that is a mistake — often a big mistake.

Think of it this way: you would never get in a car and drive away with a bag over your head, would you? Of course not. It would be incredibly dangerous. With a bag over your head, you would have no idea if you are headed in the right direction, if you had enough gas to get to where you wanted to go, if an emergency warning light came on, etc.

But that is exactly what you are doing if you run your business without a budget. You have no idea if you have enough cash to get to where you want to go, or even if you are headed in the right direction. Creating a budget takes the bag off of your business head, and allows you to see where you are going.

Part of the problem is nomenclature. People often don’t like the word “budget” because it has negative connotations. Here’s an easy solution: Use the word “plan” instead. After all, your budget is really nothing more than a plan for your business. Do you want to spend more on advertising this year? Great, then make that part of your plan. Do you want to spend less on insurance? That is a fine idea too – make that part of your plan.

Here’s how: for three months, track all of your business expenses. Create categories and see how you spend your money. Then analyze the data, and figure out if what you are spending is how you want to be spending it. If not, reallocate your resources. It’s your plan, after all.

Voila – you just made a business budget.



Steven D. Strauss is the country's leading small business expert. An internationally recognized lawyer, columnist, and speaker, Steve is also an author of 15 books. Steve's highly syndicated business column, Ask an Expert, appears weekly at He is also the small business columnist for Microsoft, and AT&T who calls him "America's Small Business Expert."