September may seem like a strange time to talk about budgeting for your business, but actually, any time of year is a good time to review how your business is tracking against your projections. Whether it’s planning for next year, or comparing this year’s results to what you were planning, looking at your actual numbers compared to your business plan for the year should be something that happens on a regular basis.
To illustrate, I’ll use a couple Red Wing Software examples of why this is important. Each manager of their respective department is responsible for creating their budget for the coming year. Of course, not only expenses are projected, but revenue is also part of the budget. For example, each salesperson puts together the sales goals that they expect to achieve on a monthly basis, and how they expect to achieve those goals. Sales numbers are then measured throughout the year on a daily basis so we are aware of how we are performing compared to our projections. If sales numbers are not what we expected, (either lower or higher), it is important to know the reasons and react quickly to any discrepancy. Of course if sales numbers are higher than we expected, we want to know why, and keep making decisions that ensure continued success.
On the expense side, you obviously want to make sure you are not spending money that was not budgeted without a serious look as to why these expenses were increased. Also, and this may sound strange at first, you want to make sure you are spending all the money that is budgeted unless there is a good reason for not spending it. For instance, our Marketing Manager budgets to spend a certain amount on very specific items. Whether it’s advertising, trade shows, web presence, travel, or any number of other things, it is important to stick to this plan. If marketing dollars are not spent as planned, the result could very well be a decrease in revenue. It can be a delicate balancing act.
We are fortunate at Red Wing Software to have seasoned, experienced managers and staff that are very good at planning for their respective departments, and our revenue and expense numbers are typically within two percent of their projections. I believe with practice, discipline, and timely analysis, most businesses can be equally accurate in their planning process.
- Ken Hilton, President