Starting a Business

Why Budgets Matter

Even startups need to forecast and plan--especially now.
Magazine Contributor
2 min read

This story appears in the July 2009 issue of . Subscribe »

Most entrepreneurs detest budgeting. Working on something as old-fashioned as an annual budget confines the imagination and limits flexibility. Still, budgets are more important than ever in today's market environment.

I've heard all the excuses for avoiding budgeting. "Startup cash flow is too unpredictable." "One big customer order could change the course of the business, so what's the point in setting a budget?" "I can't predict the capital market, so how can I forecast how much cash I'll raise and be able to spend this year?"

In my experience, these excuses mask the fact that right-brain creative entrepreneurs just don't like left-brain financial planning. So, if you're running your startup solo, you should force yourself to develop a budget to hold yourself accountable. Here are three reasons why:

  1. It will help you to become a better manager. When done properly, budgets can be extraordinarily useful in testing and refining your ability to forecast and manage. While boards like to use budgets to hold managers accountable, the startup CEO can use budgeting to test whether the drivers of his business hold true. One straightforward way to do this is to set an annual budget with a set of key assumptions (e.g., number of new clients; product price), then reforecast the year every quarter by updating those assumptions with the latest results.
     
  2. It will help you raise money. When I raised money from angel investors or institutional investors, I learned firsthand the importance of budgeting. Investment terms often specify that management must provide the investors or the board with an annual budget. Developing a company culture that tracks results to budget will help you meet and exceed the expectations of your investors.
     
  3. It will help you avoid running out of money. The No. 1 risk to any startup is running out of money. If you're like most entrepreneurs, you'll fluctuate between a conservative reality and an aggressive dream state, which keeps you motivated and helps you inspire others. When you build your budget, start with expenses, not revenue; they're much easier to forecast. This will keep you grounded and reduce your risk of running out of money.


More from Entrepreneur

Are paying too much for business insurance? Do you have critical gaps in your coverage? Trust Entrepreneur to help you find out.
Get Your Quote Now

One-on-one online sessions with our experts can help you start a business, grow your business, build your brand, fundraise and more.
Book Your Session

Whether you are launching or growing a business, we have all the business tools you need to take your business to the next level, in one place.
Enroll Now

Latest on Entrepreneur

My Queue

There are no Videos in your queue.

Click on the Add to next to any video to save to your queue.

There are no Articles in your queue.

Click on the Add to next to any article to save to your queue.

There are no Podcasts in your queue.

Click on the Add to next to any podcast episode to save to your queue.

You're not following any authors.

Click the Follow button on any author page to keep up with the latest content from your favorite authors.

It Started As a Joke and Turned Into a Startup That Raised $1 Million in Funding