Think of a budget as a useful tool—a written financial plan that helps you set goals and measure progress
To start budgeting, come up with a sales revenue target. Make it your best estimate. Based on past experience, estimate your cost of goods sold (e.g., 70% of sales) and subtract it from the sales revenue to come up with your estimated gross margin.
Next, forecast variable expenses (items such as travel and commissions that vary according to the level of sales) and fixed expenses (items like taxes and rent that stay the same, regardless of sales). Subtract these expenses from your gross margin to arrive at your estimated net income (before federal taxes).
Break your annual budget into quarters, and monitor your progress every three months to detect problems and make corrections.
Want to improve the way you run your business? Entrepreneurs, academics, and consultants from diverse industries offer practical advice on a variety of topics each business day.
To submit a tip for consideration, first check our archive of previous tips to make sure you're not repeating a tip someone has already contributed. Then send the tip to Small Business channel contributor Michelle Dammon Loyalka. Because of the volume of material she receives, she may not respond to each individual.