I love budgets! Why? Because, among other things, budgets define our goals. It outlines a month-by-month roadmap to achieving a goal. (note: an Annual Budget is not enough! ) Budgeting plays a major role in putting our goals on paper. That is, turning “dreams” into reality. If you currently don’t mirror this sentiment, I understand. I didn’t always feel this way about budgeting either (Shocking, I know). It took time to understand how general or detailed I needed to be. It took trial and error to find formats that I liked. And it took time to see it work. But, I promise you, it does!
It’s easy to be overwhelmed by the process that budgeting needs. It’s easy to get over-focused on costs and problems and forget about goals and improvements. Getting bogged down in dollars and cents is commonplace. Don’t get me wrong, costs and controls are good. We need to make a plan that helps us live within our means as a company. The point I want to make is to not lose focus on “why” you’re doing a budget in the first place.…. Which is achieving a vision!
I recently re-read a great book, “Start with Why,” by Simon Sinek. I highly recommend his YouTube videos as well. I think the point Sinek makes is relevant to budgeting. If you lose sight of “why,” budgeting is just another item on your to-do list… Along these lines, below is a list of steps I’d like you to think about to create your “Why?”. It’s not the list you might be thinking. What I’m writing about here is the “mindset” around budgeting, not budgeting itself. Examples of what I’m driving might be one or all of:
- A clear monthly road map to achieving your goal
- To make a plan for reserves
- An outline for when to bring a new leader (Sales, Field Manager, etc)
- To establish a deadline for seasonal hiring
- Plan better marketing
Getting to your “Why” takes some thought and it will change year-to-year. The teams that I’ve seen do budgets best, tend to get started in this fashion. They are not precise steps, but they are proven.
- Talk positive. “I love budgets!” We can’t control the future, but we can control our focus and attitude. Spend the next several days cultivating those thoughts. Every year is a financial investment—you could be doing something else with your money. Making a budget forecasts what your annual return will be.
- Suspend reality. As the adage says, “Shoot for the moon, you’ll land among the stars.” Resist the urge to qualify or judge ideas too early. Some may find this extremely tough. There will be plenty of time for “Reality Checks” later. After cultivating a positive mindset, get the process started by something exciting down on paper. That doesn’t have to be a Revenue goal. It could be adding a new role that will free you up. Whatever it is, make it big!
- Write down the positive implications for the company. If you implement the projects from #2 above, what will the outcomes be? Write them down and include them in your vision. Also, who would be positively affected? For example vendors, employees, customers?
- Write down the positive impact on you. I think this step gets overlooked a lot. What would the impact be on you? Your family? Goals worth achieving take work. So, the impact better is meaningful if you are to stay the course. It’s the “why” of what you’re implementing.
- Put it on Paper: This is the place where most people start. That is, they start with the nuts and bolts, and leave the “why” for later. A Budget needs to be driven by something. Lacking this is why most budgets collect dust on a shelf. If there’s a solid “why?” behind your budget, then it will be alive in your company and reviewed often.
Again, this may not be the list you were thinking of. That said, I hope you’ve identified with some of the things I’ve mentioned. And by following them, you’ll add meaning to what can be a very powerful exercise.
Let us know your thoughts in the comments below. Happy Budgeting!
All the Best