What do you think of when you hear the word budget? Like many business owners, this word may make you feel uncomfortable or even slightly panic, but it is an essential part of running a successful business and reaching your goals. On a recent episode of The Finance Cafe Podcast, our guest Shalini Darna, a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) who specializes in helping business owners navigate the complex world of accounting and taxes, shares her top tangible tips for starting your budget as an entrepreneur.
Meet Shalini Darna
Shalini starts by sharing her background and passion for helping business owners understand financial matters. She highlights the common problem many entrepreneurs face—starting a business without a financial background and expecting to figure it all out magically. Her mission is to provide financial literacy and education to bridge this gap.
The Fear of Budgets
Shalini and Shauna discuss the common fear associated with budgets. Budgets are often seen as restrictive, making people feel like they can’t enjoy their daily latte or the things they enjoy. Another misconception is that you need to be a math whiz to create a budget. However, Shalini dispels this myth, emphasizing that technology and basic math skills are sufficient for budgeting.
Why Have a Budget
Shalini draws an interesting analogy between budgeting and following a recipe. Just like a recipe guides you to create a delicious dish, a budget helps you achieve your financial goals. It’s a tool to pay yourself, fulfill personal desires, and make your financial journey more structured.
Before diving into the tips, the conversation clarifies what a budget really is. Simply put, a budget is about deciding where your money should go. It’s not about rigid formulas but rather about personal goals and choices. You have the power to allocate resources according to your own priorities.
“You are in control of the budget, of the financial journey. So, where do you want your money to go to achieve your goals.” – Shalini Darna
Tangible Budgeting Tips for Entrepreneurs
Now, let’s get into the actionable tips Shalini provides for starting your budget as a business owner:
1. Identify Your Financial Goals: Just like any good recipe, you need to know what you’re aiming for. What are your financial goals? Whether it’s saving for a family vacation or planning for retirement, understanding your objectives is the first step.
2. Categorize Your Expenses: Your budget should cover various aspects of your life, from everyday expenses like food and rent to other financial commitments. Categorizing your expenses helps you allocate resources effectively.
During their insightful discussion on budgeting, Shalini highlighted some key ingredients that are often missed in budgets. These are critical elements that can significantly impact the financial health and success of a business. Here are two key ingredients often overlooked:
Paying Yourself: Many entrepreneurs, especially those in the early stages of their businesses, tend to neglect paying themselves a consistent salary. They often wait until there’s some leftover money in the business account before considering their own compensation. However, Shalini emphasizes that paying yourself should be a fundamental part of your budget. Your hard work and dedication deserve fair compensation. Budgeting for your salary ensures that you’re not neglecting your personal financial needs and helps you maintain a healthy work-life balance.
Yearly Expenses: While it’s common for businesses to focus on monthly expenses, they often overlook annual or infrequent expenses that can catch them off guard. Shalini points out that yearly expenses, such as professional dues, insurance premiums, or taxes, should not be forgotten. Allocating funds for these expenses each month or setting up a sinking fund to cover them ensures that you’re financially prepared when these less frequent bills come due.
3. Organize Your Financial Data: Before creating a budget, gather information about your income and expenses. Understand where your money is going by reviewing your bank and credit card statements, accounting systems, or financial software. Categorize these expenses into “must-haves” and “nice-to-haves,” or fixed and variable costs. This helps you differentiate between essential and discretionary spending. Do you really use that subscription you pay for every month, or can this be eliminated to lower your monthly expenses?
4. Calculate Your Break-Even Point: Determine the minimum amount of money you need to earn each month to cover all your expenses and avoid losses. This helps you gauge the sustainability of your budget and business operations.
The break-even point is a crucial financial concept that represents the level of sales or revenue at which a business’s total costs equal its total revenue, resulting in neither profit nor loss. In other words, it’s the point at which a business covers all its expenses, both fixed and variable, with its sales or income.
5. Allocate Surplus Funds: If you have extra income beyond your expenses, decide how to allocate it wisely. Consider saving, investing, upgrading equipment, or reinvesting in your business to achieve your financial goals.
Budgeting is not about restriction but empowerment. It’s a tool that provides clarity and control over your finances, whether in your personal life or business. Shalini Darna’s valuable insights and practical tips demonstrate that budgeting can be a dynamic and flexible process. It allows you to not only cover your essential expenses but also allocate resources for growth, savings, and investments. Remember, knowing your numbers and having a solid financial plan can lead to more informed and successful business decisions. Embrace the power of budgeting and take charge of your financial future, one step at a time.