Budgeting is sometimes seen as a necessary evil in business, but it should be seen as the artery of the business. Consider the budget as the plan where you will be spending your money and what you will be spending it on.
Realizing that certain areas requires more money than others ensures that you are not “blindsided” by costs that eats away at your funds without forewarning. Unexpected costs WILL crop up and we should plan for those occurrences but with a budget we can confidently forge ahead and meet & discuss our plans with other groups.
Unless this is your 3rd or 4th business, some guesswork is needed to fill in your budget – do not be afraid to come up with estimates but make sure that they are as realistic as you can make them. Some planning software will ask for 3 “guesses”: Best – Average – Worst. These are to help you realize and set goals to benchmark your progress.
Toktumi (talk-to-me) is a great company that provides a very reasonable rate for a telephone. You can choose an 800 (or 888) number and provide your clients a free phone call in. In addition, you can have it forward directly to you existing cell-phone and with a different tome you can answer it with your “company” voice!
For the most part faxes are being a way of the past, but Toktumi also provides the ability to send and receive faxes.
Is this a “duh”? Yes, I think it is – you already have Internet but ensure that it is fast and very reliable. You need the Internet to perform detailed searches for competition, research AND social media blitzing. Do not scrimp on the Internet and do not expect to “hang out” at Starbucks when you need to use it!
Paper, paper and more paper. And the occasional pens & clips. This is not going to be a large bucket in your budget but something to monitor. In your start-up costs you should account for a filing cabinet and the initial set of filing supplies.
What you decide your advertising bucket is going to be, double it! Advertising is most likely your largest bucket as your start out. You need to make a dent in your market to start getting clients. Going forward, the percentage compared to income (gross income, not net) will come down but consider advertising around 10-15% of income going forward.
In addition, you must have some “opportunity” fund available to take advantage of current events, whether it is a conference that you just found our about or maybe a competitor’s weakness that you can take advantage off. Advertising is like sparring with a partner, but remember you are looking for that knock-out opportunity at all times.