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How documenting your business can help you budget

It never fails to surprise me when a client tells me they don’t have a budget for a specific project. I’m even more surprised if this is a project they’ve done before, such as a new project launch or attending a conference.

The reasons vary but the most common one I hear is: “a budget isn’t going to help; every project is different”. I understand that factors change every time. However, projects of similar natures tend to have similar needs, costs, and a schedule for completion. Creating a document with an idea of what financial outlay might be expected at specific times, it’s possible to create a plan that minimizes costs.

For example, perhaps you are attending a conference and need to have printed materials. You have a box from a prior conference stored … somewhere in the office. Creating a document that lists items such as a packing list of materials and where they are stored are a step toward helping you with your budget. Why? By having a list that you can review during the early stages of planning, it can help determine what changes need to be made. How many copies remain? Are they in suitable condition to be used for this conference? Making these decisions early in the process can reduce the need to rush a print job at the last minute. This also reduces personal stress!

3 things you can do today to document your business and help your budget

You’ll need to set aside about an hour to work on this today.

  1. Create a list of projects/events.

If it’s easier to simply create a list of names, that’s ok. The more detail you can add, the more useful this document will be. For example, a snippet of my list looks like this:

Project/EventDate/FrequencyBudget needs
Trade ShowBiannual, begin prep 3 months in advanceFlight, hotel, business cards, food
If possible +1 buffer.
Business cards stored on 3rd shelf-right basement.
Volunteer – Paine to Pain Half Marathon Trail RaceAnnual, OctoberBusiness cards, time increases month before (add sponsors/logistics), day of (6am-2pm), update race results prelim/final during week after.
New Client WebsiteSee files:
– new client general
– new client website (new site)
– new client website (revision)
– new client website (maintenance)
– new client website costs form

For my business, new client websites vary greatly in needs. Instead of listing all of that information in this specific document I link to other files.

2. List the exact expenses for one most recent project/event. If it’s easier, pretend you need to submit an expense report to yourself. Link (or attach) that file to your master list.

3. Schedule an additional hour in three days to review this list. Do you see patterns that can be used to help create an outline of a project’s needs? Create a new/linked document that can become a checklist.

I hope these tips help you see the value in documenting your business and creating a budget outline for every project. These tips will be gathered into a guided worksheet to be released in early October. Please sign up for my mailing list to make sure are among the first to know when it’s available. Do you need additional help? Please feel free to contact me to set up a consultation.

calculator, printed chart of numbers, pen, and grid spiral notebook