How to Prepare a Business Budget

One of the primary challenges facing a small business owner is uncertainty about the future. (It is also what makes entrepreneurship exciting).  We may have an amazing product or service, but we can’t be sure whether this will actually translate into a profitable business model.  A budget is an excellent tool to manage uncertainty and, contrary to popular belief, can actually be fairly straightforward to prepare, particularly for small businesses that do not have to worry about different departments, product lines and geographic areas .

A budget, very simply, is a tool that helps you predict your sales, expenses and profitability as well as your cash flow needs.  It is based on estimates, which in turn are based on a combination of experience, history and industry knowledge. In terms of presentation, a budget should essentially mirror your financial statements and will include the following main categories:

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Excel for Small Business Owners

This is incredibly geeky, but there is something about large amounts of data, in a neatly organized table, that I find somewhat exciting .  I suppose it has something to do with an affinity for organization combined with a love of numbers.   As an accountant and financial consultant, I am constantly faced with the task of organizing and analysing data.  And although good accounting software is absolutely necessary for any small business owner, almost all of my financial reporting and analysis is done using excel.

Excel, for my purposes, is somewhat magical.  (Just to be clear, I have no connection to Microsoft. I will eventually write a post on how much I despise Word).  I actually like manipulating data in excel, just so that I can discover new features and find more efficient ways of doing thngs.  This, of course, often ends up taking twice as long as if I had just done it using the more manual, tried and tested methods.  What, continues to impress me, however, is that there is an easier way to do almost everything  in excel (involving data – unfortunately it will not cook you dinner).  And this does not even include macros.

If you are planning to updgrade to excel 2007 or 2010, keep in mind that the interface is quite different.  This takes a while to get used to, and can be quite frustrating in the beginning.  However once you have become familiar with the new structure, excel 2007/10 is vastly superior to 2003.

Excel is especially helpful for small business owners and employees who do not have customized financial reporting or accounting software but are interested in disseminating their data.  Below are some ways in which excel can add value:

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4 Metrics to Help Improve Your Small Business Cash Flow

In a recent study by TD Bank Financial Group it was determined that one of the primary challenges facing small business was cash flow (The other two were managing clients and government red tape).  This probably comes as no surprise to most small business owners, especially in the early stages.  Of course, the simple answer to this problem would be a limitless source of cash.  (Of course if we had unlimited funds, we may not find it necessary to endure the trial and tribulations of business ownership).  Since this is usually not possible, we need to do the next best thing: analyze our cash flow requirements and find the most cost effective and easily available solution for any shortfalls.  Even the most successful business can find itself shutting its doors if it is not able to manage it's cash flow needs. 

Below are 4 financial metrics, which if monitored regularly, can actually help improve your business' cash flow:

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Accounting for Non Accountants : Debit, Credits and Financial Statements

When people hear the term accounting, there is an involuntary reaction whereby the comprehension centres (the medical term) of their brains tend to shut down, and sleep mode is activated.  This is unfortunate, as accounting, especially to a small business owner, can actually be quite interesting.  It is one of the primary tools by which business owners and other interested parties can gage the success of their business, as well as identify areas that require attention andneed improvement.  To understand accounting, business owners need to have a basic understanding of how it works (debits and credits) and it's results (financial statements), explained below:

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