Founding and running a startup is exciting, as it gives creative people a chance to see their ideas given form. One aspect of small-business management that can be far less sexy and far more confusing, however, is creating and maintaining a budget.
Not every entrepreneur has a business background, but that doesn't mean that your business' budget has to be a black box of confusion. Here are some tools to help you master your company's budget.
1. You Need A Budget
The secret to budgeting success is to have as much information on where your money is going as possible. You Need A Budget is a tool designed to do just that. The service is designed to help users not just track expenditures, but gain greater control over them by establishing a category for each purchase and, as the app states, "giving each dollar a job." The ability to plan around future deposits and expenditures means users can focus on the near future as well as the immediate present.
YNAB offers a desktop app and is available on a variety of mobile platforms, meaning you can make real-time changes to your budget as you spend. The service is optimized for either independent freelancers, or small businesses with few employees.
You may have heard of the popular budgeting service Mint. inDinero follows the trends established by that app and applies them in a way that makes sense for small businesses rather than individuals.
The app lets users connect their bank accounts with their inDinero accounts, allowing for quick referencing between cash flow, expenses and projections. It also itemizes expenses into categories and can automatically sort them, making it easier to see how much money is being spent on a given type of product or service.
Freelancing is a popular career path for many, but one of the more difficult aspects often revolves around invoice management. Fortunately, FreshBooks provides a low-hassle, seamless way to create and track invoices.
The app gives users a variety of invoice templates to which they can add their logo and client information. After that, all that's left to do is enter specific line-item information, and the invoices are automatically populated and sent to the clients. It can also be useful in following up with late payments – the app lets users see when invoices have been viewed, and tracks how long it's been since clients have received them. It's then possible to prioritize follow-up communications based on this information.
4. Google sheets
For some, specialized budgeting software may not be necessary. It's important to remember that there's always the easy accessibility of Google's own spreadsheets. Anyone familiar with existing spreadsheet software such as Microsoft's Excel will be right at home, since the functionality between Google's and Microsoft's offerings is the same.
As an added bonus, Google provides a mobile app for its spreadsheets, giving small-business owners the same flexibility in updating their budgets on the go they'd have with other programs. Of course, it's a relatively lo-fi solution, but for entrepreneurs who are wary of spending additional money on budgeting software, it's a good free choice.