Julia A. is a writer at SmallBizGenius.net. With experience in both finance and marketing industries, she enjoys staying up to date with the current economic affairs and writing opinion pieces on the state of small businesses in America. As an avid reader, she spends most of her time poring over history books, fantasy novels, and old classics. Tech, finance, and marketing are her passions, and she’s a frequent contributor at various small business blogs.
In times of turmoil and economic crisis, it is more important than ever for businesses to have a clear idea of their finances and where their money is going. A well-thought-out budget can help a company stay afloat during tough times, while a poor budget can lead to financial ruin. Why is budgeting important, you may ask yourself, when businesses have other things to worry about? The answer is simple: it is very difficult to make informed decisions about where to allocate resources without having a clear idea about your budget. A budget allows businesses to track their spending, income, and profits over time to make adjustments as needed. Stay with us and learn more about the importance of budgeting for businesses, big and small. Budgeting for Beginners: Where to Start? If you're new to budget planning, you may need help getting started. It’s only fair to ask yourself: “What does budgeting mean in the first place?” It is the process of creating a plan for managing your finances. We see it as a roadmap that tells you where your money is going and shows you how much money you have to work with each month. To create it, you need to start with a central place where you'll track and record your spending and lay out your expenses. It can be a simple spreadsheet, an app on your phone, or even a notebook where you jot down your expenses each day. There are plenty of affordable business budgeting software options available if you’d like to make the process even easier. Once you have a place to track your spending, begin by evaluating your monthly income and expenses: determine where your money is going and see if there are any areas where you can make cuts to save some money. Then, start with budget management: set some financial goals for the month or even a year in advance. These could be saving for a new piece of equipment, increasing your marketing budget, or paying down debt. Finally, create a plan for how you will meet your goals. This may involve setting a budget for each category of expenses, cutting back on non-essential spending, or finding ways to increase your income. Once you have a plan in place, stick to it as best you can. Review your budget regularly to ensure you're on track and fine-tune it as needed. The Importance of Budgeting Budgeting might not be the most glamorous task on your to-do list, but it's essential for any business owner who wants to stay afloat. Small business owners and big corporations use budgets as a way to keep up with their financial goals and save for a rainy day. Below, we've compiled a list of reasons for having a comprehensive budget plan – and sticking to it. 1. Budgeting Helps You Achieve Your Financial Goals With a clear budget in place, you can easily determine what your short- and long-term financial goals are. Are you planning on saving for new office equipment? Do you need a top-notch cash register? Increased marketing efforts? A rainy day fund? A focus on growing your business? Setting a budget will help you allocate the resources in a way that aligns with your goals. Once you've set those goals, you can have a better idea of what you need to save each month to reach them. This will help you stay disciplined and on track. You'll also manage your money more efficiently, knowing what you need to spend on and where you can make some concessions. 2. Budgeting Helps You Keep Track of Your Spending Do you know where your money goes each month? A budget will help you track your spending and see what you spend your hard-earned money on. This can help identify areas where you may be overspending, such as office supplies or entertainment. Why is budgeting important when starting out with limited resources, or even thinking of applying for a bad credit business loan? Tracking your spending is essential to ensure that you are making the most of your limited resources. Once you have a little more financial wiggle room, you can start allocating more money to areas that may have been neglected in the early days. 3. Budgeting Forces You To Be Realistic About Your Finances Yet another reason why budgeting is important is that it requires you to take a close look at your business's revenues and expenses. This can be eye-opening and may even require you to make tough decisions about where to cut back on spending or what changes need to be made to boost profits. Most businesses that have been operating for a while tend to lull in their growth, and this is where budgeting can help you take a step back and analyze your how your business is doing. If it is not growing as quickly as you'd like, a budget can help you pinpoint areas where you may need to make drastic changes to reach your financial goals. 4. Planning a Budget Can Help You Avoid Debt By sticking to a budget, you can avoid overspending and racking up debt. This is especially important for small business owners who may be tempted to use business credit cards to finance their operations. If unaware of their expenses, they can easily find themselves in over their heads. With proper budget planning, you can avoid this trap. Knowing that 20% of small businesses fail within the first year, mainly due to poor financial management, it's more important than ever to be mindful of your spending habits and keep your business debt-free. 5. Budgeting Makes it Easier to Plan for Emergencies Among the reasons why budgeting is important, this one is often overlooked. No one knows when an emergency will hit, but having a budget can help you be prepared for whatever comes your way. By setting aside money each month into a savings account, you can build up a cushion that can be used to cover unexpected expenses. This can help you avoid going into debt or being forced to make tough choices about where to cut back on spending. We recommend you have at least 3-6 months of living expenses saved up in case of an emergency. This may seem like a lot but remember: it's better to be safe than sorry. 6. Having a Budget Plan Holds You Accountable Accountability is a not-so-obvious advantage of budgeting. Namely, creating and planning your budget can help you be more accountable for your business's finances. By tracking your spending and setting limits, you can avoid making impulsive decisions with your money. This can help you feel more in control of your finances and better able to manage your resources. Staying on target with your budget can also help build trust with investors or lenders. 7. Budgeting Helps Decision Making Budgeting can help you make better decisions about your money. By taking the time to review your finances, you can identify areas where you may be able to cut back on spending or make more efficient use of your resources. This information can be invaluable in helping you make informed choices about the direction your business will go in the future. 8. Preparing a Budget Helps Build a Retirement Fund A budget can also help you plan for retirement. By setting aside money each month, you can ensure that you have enough saved to cover your retirement costs. If you set aside money each month, you can also take advantage of compounding interest and grow your retirement fund even faster. By contributing to your Individual Retirement Accounts (IRA) or 401(k) account, you can also get tax breaks that can help you save even more money. 9. Budgeting Reduces Stress Finally, if you’re wondering why capital budgeting is important for living a stress-free life, it’s having a clear idea about the state of your finances can help you feel more in control of your money and better able to make informed decisions about your spending. You get more organized, have more time to focus on the things you love, and can relax a little bit knowing that you have a plan. So take the time to create a budget that works for you, and enjoy the peace of mind that comes with it. Final Words Why is budgeting important if you’re a business owner? By taking the time to create and follow a budget, you can improve your chances of success and ensure that your business is on a solid financial footing. Budgeting can help you track progress, avoid debt, and save for retirement. Without proper planning, it can be easy to overspend and put your business at risk. If you're unsure where to start, our guide on creating a budget can help you. Once you've created your budget, stick to it as closely as possible to improve your chances of success. And if you need help staying on track, consider working with a financial advisor who can help you make the most of your money.
Starting and running a business is a real juggling act. In the midst of all the chaos, the process of getting a business loan can seem daunting. You may not even know where to start, but that’s where a business loan broker can help. Successful brokers can assist you in finding the right lender, getting the best interest rate and term, and submitting your application. But is the service worth the cost? And are there other options available to you? You should find this article helpful in finding answers to these questions. What Is a Business Loan Broker? Once you’re beyond the intricacies of how to become a business owner and are in a growth stage or are running a mature firm, you’re likely to find yourself in need of a business loan. This is where a business loan broker can help. Business loan brokers work with both banks and alternative lenders to find the best financing options for their clients. They also help with the application process and, in some cases, may be able to negotiate the terms on behalf of their clients. Types of Business Loan Brokers Brokers generally specialize in one market segment. Depending on your business size or the type of financing solutions you require, you can opt for one of the following: Startup loan brokers: You should go for this type of business loan broker if you are running a startup that’s finding it difficult to acquire a loan due to a short or no credit history. SBA loan brokers: These business loan brokers specialize in government-backed loans disbursed by the Small Business Administration (SBA). Factoring brokers: They help companies boost their cash flow while waiting for their invoices to be paid by customers. These professionals assist their clients in obtaining invoice financing and factoring products, which involve selling invoices to a third party, or factor. Equipment financing brokers: These business loan brokers help companies finance the purchase of new equipment by offering them loans or leases. Merchant cash advance brokers: The job of these brokers is to ensure their clients get cash upfront in exchange for a percentage of their business’s future sales. When Do You Need a Business Loan Broker? When deciding whether to hire a loan broker, you should consider if that would be the most cost-effective course of action for your business. For example, startups that have never applied for a loan before could benefit from hiring a professional with industry experience and connections, while businesses eligible for an SBA loan would do best to consult an SBA loan broker. Or, if you’re struggling to get approved for a loan from a bank or credit union, working with a broker could help you secure financing from an alternative lender. Brokers may also be able to help you get a better interest rate or other terms for your loan. On the other hand, if you’re comfortable with the lending process and confident in your ability to secure financing, you may not need a broker. Just consider if working with a broker would end up costing you more in fees than what you would save on interest. How to Choose a Business Loan Broker Should you decide that hiring a small business loan broker would benefit you, there are a few things you should know before settling on one. First off, you should know where to look for brokers. A simple Google search is one way to find a business lending broker. Another is to go to specialized websites, including those of the American Association of Commercial Finance Brokers, Small Business Finance Association Broker Council, or the local secretary of state, which will list brokers licensed in your state. And if you’re not keen on finding a broker online, you can always visit the office of a local small business organization. When it comes to choosing a particular loan broker for your business, you should first look into how many and which lenders they collaborate with. This will give you an insight into the kind of offers they can get you. You should also inquire about the broker’s experience and success rate. This will help you gauge whether they’re likely to be able to get you the financing you need. It would be a good idea to check whether the business loan brokers you are vetting have a Better Business Bureau accreditation and rating. Finally, it’s important to find out about broker fees and how they’re paid. That way, you can compare the offers of different brokers and find the one that suits you based on the cost and the quality of service. Once you have a list of business lending brokers who might be a good fit, it's a good idea to look for customer reviews. The experiences of other people can tell you if a broker is worth working with. Business Loan Broker Fees Brokers typically charge a commission expressed as a percentage of the total loan amount. A majority of brokers charge between 1% and 6%, though some may ask for as much as 17%. Some brokers ask for the money upfront, while others take a percentage of the overall interest you end up paying, which, of course, translates into a higher interest rate. Alternatives to Hiring a Business Loan Broker If you decide that working with a small business lending broker isn’t for you, there are other options available. You can work directly with some of the best banks or credit unions, or use an online lending platform like Lendio to compare multiple loan offers at once. If you have a poor credit score, you may want to check out some loans for business owners with bad credit. No matter what route you choose, be sure to compare interest rates, fees, and terms before selecting a loan. And remember, always read the fine print. Bottom Line All in all, a business loan consultant can serve as a link with the right lender and get you the best possible terms on your loan. However, they typically charge a commission for their services, which can add to the cost of your loan. Therefore, you should do the math to find out whether hiring a broker would pay off before you make the final decision.
We've all fantasized about becoming our own boss at one point or another. But for most of us, the idea of having our own business is just that—an idea. We don't act on it because we think we need too much money to get started. But how much money do you really need to start a business? The truth is, you don't need a ton of cash to start your own venture. In fact, many businesses can be created with very little up-front investment. Of course, the amount of money you'll need will depend on several factors, such as the type of company you want to start, the equipment and inventory you'll need, and whether you plan to rent or purchase an office or retail space. The Cost of Starting a Business The first step in starting any business is to calculate the initial costs. These can range from a few hundred dollars to tens of thousands of dollars and are needed to get your business up and running. First off, this figure depends on your idea and geographical region. Since these are different for every aspiring business owner, nobody can tell you exactly how much money you need to start a business. Therefore, we’ll do the next best thing and tell you how to determine your start-up costs. To get an accurate estimate, you'll need to consider everything from the cost of office supplies to the price of any necessary licenses or permits. Once you have a good handle on the basics you’ll need to cover, you can begin looking for ways to finance them. Start-Up Costs for a Business According to the US Small Business Administration, the estimated starting cost can be divided into two main categories: pre-start expenses and asset expenditures. On top of these, you've got to be able to cover all the ongoing costs your business will incur before it’s capable of standing firmly on its own. There are one-time costs, ongoing costs, necessary costs, optional costs, fixed costs, and variable costs. Pre-Start Expenses are the one-time costs associated with getting your business off the ground, and they can range from legal fees to market research expenses. Asset Expenditures represent the cost of any physical assets you'll need for your business, such as office furniture or manufacturing equipment. Ongoing costs represent rent, utilities, and employee salaries, which you'll need to cover on a regular basis. Fixed costs, such as rent or business loan payments, stay the same each month. Variable costs, such as inventory or advertising expenses, can fluctuate monthly. Essential costs, such as licenses and permits, are absolutely unavoidable when running a legitimate business. Optional costs, such as consultants or workplace decorations, are not necessary but can be helpful. These are all types of expenses to consider when starting your business. You'll need to sit down, do meticulous research, and write an estimate of all the expenses and income you anticipate. To stay safe, plan for the worst-case scenario, but hope for the best. Common Start-Up Expenses Whether you are planning to start a bookkeeping business or a candle-making company, success doesn’t come cheap, especially in the beginning. Here is a list of outlays practically every venture needs to take care of: Business licenses and permits Office space or equipment rental Inventory cost Insurance Advertising and marketing Accounting and legal fees Employee salaries Utilities Website design and hosting fees Depending on your business, there may be other one-time or ongoing costs that you’ll need to consider. To get an accurate number, remember to factor in additional costs, such as inventory, shipping, marketing, and a fund for unforeseen expenses that may pop up along the way. Ways To Finance Your Business It’s encouraging to know that 58% of small firms began with less than $25,000 and one-third with less than $5,000. Once you’ve done your homework, you’ll know if you’re among them. Once you know how much capital you need to start a business, it’s time to figure out how to finance it. It's ideal if you can do it out of your own pocket, but that isn't always possible. Depending on your situation, you may need to consider creative funding methods to turn your idea into reality. Bootstrap: This means you’ll use personal savings to finance your company. This is a good option if you have a low-risk business that can be opened with little to no money. Crowdfunding: With crowdfunding, you’ll solicit small amounts of money from a large group of people. This is a suitable choice if you have a brilliant company concept but don't have the money to fund it. It used to be next to impossible to get funds in this manner, but today there are several excellent platforms devoted to crowdfunding that can help you quickly reach your objective. Small-business loan: A small-business loan from a bank or credit union is the traditional source of funding for startups. However, this avenue will only be available if you have good credit and need a significant amount of money to get started. Some banks give small-business loans to people with bad credit, but their interest rate is substantially higher. Friends and family: You may be able to cover business startup costs by asking your friends and family members to invest in your venture, either with interest or without. If you don't want to take out a loan and trust the people you're asking to support you, this is a fantastic choice. The final three options are more appropriate when your business is already up and running, but you’re struggling to keep up with the costs or are looking to expand the scope of your operations. Venture capitalists: If you have a high-growth business, you may be able to get funding from venture capitalists, who will finance your business with money pooled from third parties, such as investment companies or banks. If you need a lot of money and are ready to give up a portion of your company in exchange for cash, this is an excellent alternative. Angel Investors: Angel investors are wealthy individuals who invest in businesses in exchange for equity, but unlike venture capitalists, they are using their own funds. As you can see, angel investors and venture capitalists are similar, but not exactly the same. The amounts you can get from angel investors are often smaller than those from venture capitalists, too. Grants: You may be able to get funded by the government or other organizations. This is a good option if you have a low-income business or are working in a field that benefits the community. No matter how you finance your startup business, it’s wise to plan for the worst-case scenario. Once you've done your research and secured funding for your idea, you'll be all set to launch your new business... or are you? How Do You Know If You're Ready To Start a Business? The thought of being in complete control of our work lives—and incomes!—is incredibly appealing. Luckily, it's now more possible than ever to make that dream a reality. But before you quit your day job, here are four things to think about before becoming your own boss: 1. Are you prepared to work hard—really hard? Running your own business is not a 9-to-5 job. It's more like a 24/7 job. You'll have to put in extremely long hours to get your business off the ground, and even once it's established, you'll still need to work constantly to keep it afloat. So ask yourself—are you prepared to work hard? 2. Do you have what it takes to be a leader? As the boss, you'll be responsible for guiding and managing your team (if you have one). This means you'll need to have strong leadership skills. Are you up for that challenge? 3. Can you handle the stress? Running a company is stressful, and we're not just talking about procuring the money needed to start and operate a business. Things won’t always go as planned, and you'll have to constantly deal with challenges and setbacks. So ask yourself—can you handle the stress? 4. Are you prepared to take risks? Starting a business is a risk. There's no guarantee that you’ll be successful, no matter how well you plan or how talented you and your team may be. So ask yourself—are you prepared to take risks? If your answer to all of these questions is "yes," then you just might be ready to become your own boss. But remember, it's not a decision to be made lightly. Be sure to do your research and plan carefully before taking the plunge. Conclusion Once you’ve done your research, created a detailed business plan, and factored in additional costs that may pop up along the way, you should know how much money you need to start a business. Remember that this is just a general guide, and your specific situation may require more or less capital. So what are you waiting for? Get out there and make your dreams a reality! Who knows, you could be the next big success story on the cover of Forbes.