Budget Planning: Ask these 3 Questions and It suddenly Seems Easier

Budget Planning
Gpoint Studio

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3 things to ask before building next year’s budget.

It’s budget-planning time. After a year that may very well have derailed your budget, and despite how begrudgingly you might enter this process, now is the time to plan next year’s budget. Digging deeper into the essential questions from budgeting and forecasting for high growth companies is a great place to start.

Related Read: 5 steps to building your budget.

Creating Next Year’s Budget

What key assumptions are we making?

Begin by being honest about what you can assume for the year ahead and plan for multiple scenarios. Has the COVID landscape changed your market and is it likely to continue to affect your market? Take into account your supply chains, liabilities, and any loans coming due along with the limitations on your assets. Depending on your business model, you will have different revenue drivers to budget for. More accurate assumptions can be made with well-rounded, company-wide input.

Cloud CFO Tip: Set top-down goals but ensure reasonableness from the bottom. Your tactical managers can help with this. For more accuracy and buy-in, involve the right members of your team who have a good sense of operations, sales and business development and understand the current market trends.

budget planning: set top-down goals

Will we have the needed cash flow?

The question of the hour. Remember that your profit and loss statement (P&L) does not equal cash flow. Review your accounts receivable, accounts payable, inventory, fixed assets and deferred revenue.

Cloud CFO Tip: Start with your statement of cash flows and then work backwards through your balance sheet and P&L. As you begin budget planning, set yourself up for success by asking your controller for your cash runway and burn rate. Liquidity, current and quick ratios can help give you insight into your cash flow and financial health.

budget planning: work backwards from cash flow statement through balance sheet

What are our drivers of growth?

Finally, focus on your growth drivers. Begin with budgeting your revenue drivers then move on to budgeting expenses. The most important are your cost of goods sold (COGS) and variable costs. Finally, work through your semi-fixed expenses, taxes and depreciation and amortization.

Cloud CFO Tip: Don’t spend time drilling down items like staplers and office supplies, but do be detailed when budget planning growth drivers and break them down to the smallest key metric (e.g. 20 new customers each month = one new hire, or 2,800 widgets sold).

budget planning: do be detailed about key growth drivers

A quick reminder, creating a budget is valuable because it forces your business to plan. Your budget is simply a stake in the ground to use as a reference point for forecasting and strategizing. You could be way off and that’s okay.

Reviewing and Revising the Budget

Now that you’ve finished planning next year’s budget, don’t forget to review and revise. While traditionally, budgets are made with backward-looking financials and unlinked data, we work with our clients to provide dynamic cash flow forecasts to better understand budget variances and how they can adjust. In the current financial climate this forward-thinking approach to financials becomes even more important. Need help planning your budget

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