Budgeting gets a bad rap. It’s such an effective way to gauge how you’re doing with your overall financial goals. Are you bringing in enough revenue and minimizing expenses so you’re making a profit? If not, where exactly do the problems lie?
But many small businesses decline to create budgets because they’re not confident in their ability to estimate monthly sales and purchases for the coming year. Further, budgets are a pain to assemble manually.
Technology can help a lot; accounting applications simplify this critical task. We’ll use the desktop version of QuickBooks as an example here, though other solutions offer their own budget tools.
It offers useful setup options.
A power Excel user could probably set up the rows and columns necessary for a budget quickly, but what labels should appear in the rows? Even if you found a sample budget framework online, you’d still have to decide which labels to include and enter them.
Using QuickBooks, you simply open a menu item and a budget wizard appears. It first asks what type of budget you want to create:
- Profit and Loss (reflect all activity for the year)
- Balance Sheet (ending balances only)
You’d select the Profit and Loss budget, then move on to indicate whether you wanted to be able to view the budget by Customer: Job or Class, which may be useful to you. You can also, though, set it up with no additional criteria.
It pre-fills rows.
The budget template that appears in the window that opens contains rows that are already labeled with the most commonly-used content (Gross Receipts, Cost of Goods Sold, Office Expenses, etc.). Columns are divided into months.
It lets you use existing data.
You can create a budget from scratch using QuickBooks, but all those blank cells would be intimidating. How do you begin to estimate what you should enter? For that reason, the software offers to pull in existing income and expense data from the previous year, depositing monthly totals in the correct cells. You can also edit an existing budget.
It simplifies data entry.
Even if you use last year’s data, you’re likely to want to make modifications. You can:
- Delete any existing numbers and add new ones manually.
- Clear a complete row, enter a new number in the first cell and click a button to copy them all the way across the row.
- Clear a complete row, enter a new number in a cell, and increase or decrease that number by a percentage or dollar amount across the rest of the row (good for seasonal businesses)
It provides reports.
Budgets are not particularly helpful if you don’t have an easy way to analyze your adherence to them. QuickBooks offers four reports for this reason: Budget Overview, Budget vs Actual, Profit & Loss Budget Performance, and Budget vs. Actual Graph.
Still feel like you’d have trouble completing a budget? We’ve helped numerous businesses with this task. Contact your MarksNelson professional at 816-743-7700.