Running a successful small business is hard. Running a successful small business without a budget is virtually impossible.
Without easy access to your financial information, many decisions are tougher than they should be. For example: How could you make an informed decision about whether it’s a good time to grow your business, purchase new inventory or assets, or give yourself a raise?
Clear, up-to-date budgets can help with questions like these.
A budget is a tool that allows you to measure your ideal financial numbers against your actual figures. Effective budgeting requires regular calibration of the real business environment against the theoretical one.
If that sounds daunting or time-consuming, fear not. There are online resources that simplify the process. In fact, there are several downloadable, customizable budget templates that you can access right now. And just to keep them within your budget (see what we did there?) they’re free!
Here are seven of our current favorites in alphabetical order.
The download available from Capterra includes both a monthly and annual breakdown that can be used on an Excel spreadsheet. “Imagine going into a month having no idea what you were going to spend or how much money you were going to make,” the site says. “If you’re interested in having money in your bank account at the end of the month, you might want to start thinking ahead.” The goal of a budget, they say, is to have a “fixed point to track your progress against.”
Once again, you don’t need to look very far to find a range of budget templates. Google’s Template Gallery provides a variety of visually striking, easy-to-use templates. The tables and graphs in the Summary tab offer an illustrative glimpse into your income and expenses, quickly getting you up to speed on where you stand financially. Not sure where to start? Check out this well-designed annual budget template.
Do you use Microsoft Office? If so, you are probably sitting on a database of useful budget templates right now without even realizing it. Microsoft Office has a wide range of budgets for every need. They feature charts and graphs of your variances from month to month.
Score small business resources
This resource for small business includes budget templates designed specifically for financial projections, startup expenses, profit-and-loss statements, and cash flow statements, among many others. In addition to budgeting, the site features templates for startup planning, marketing & sales, even business management.
It’s Your Money is a no-nonsense home for all things financial, with tons of helpful and educational resources and tips that business owners can use, no matter what your level of financial savvy. Here you’ll find multiple free, downloadable Excel templates for help with spending plans, “planning for future expenses, amortizing loans of various types, and tracking your debt loads.”
As the site warns, these templates aren’t fancy, but they are flexible and easy to customize for your own situation. For example, find the cash-flow budget template spreadsheet here. Or, find the whole list of IYM templates here.
This site provides separate sheets for service-based and goods-based business to create their own budgets. Income and expenses are further broken down so that you can see where money is coming in and where it’s going out. Find and download the free budget templates here.
Another site that relies on Excel spreadsheets, Vertex 42 includes a pair of sample budgets aimed at businesses that offer services or products. It features a worksheet that breaks down, month-by-month, both sales and expenses. And for anyone considering launching a new business, the site offers a free downloadable Business Start Up Costs template.
Figure out which of these small business budgets is useful in outlining the goals for your enterprise. In order for any of these templates to work, however, you must keep on top of your daily expenditures as part of your regular routine. When you get closer to really mastering your cash flow, you’ll be better equipped to grow your business in a sustainable manner for years to come.