Small business budgeting

Every month large  organisations pour over budgets, Analysiing variances, updating forcasts.. But what about Small Businesses? Should they budget too? Absolutely. If you don’t prepare a budget you have nothing to aim to. Budgeting will assist with business planning and cost control ultimately success.

What Is a Budget?Although you might not know it, you prepare a budget each time you estimate how much cash you will have left at the end of the month after paying your bills.

A budget is a forecast of all cash sources and cash expenditures. It is organized in the same format as a financial statement, and most commonly covers a 12-month period. At the end of the year, the anticipated income and expenses developed in the budget are compared to the actual performance of the business as recorded in the financial statement.

The budgeting process takes a number of steps the first I would suggest is profit and loss forecast. This involves taking last years monthly profit and loss statements and teasing out budgeted figures for the following  month/ year in a spreadsheet. For example if your sales in February 2010 were €70K but you know you have a new sales person and better products this year you should be budgeting for €100K

If your phone bill was €1k last March and you’ve changed providers and negotiated a discount you can lower this amount. Its extremely important to be realistic with these figures. Otherwise the whole budgeting process is a waste of time.

Once you have extrapolated out the monthly profit and loss figures you now have the basis of your budget. Remember your budgeting is an ongoing process. Theres no point in preparing a budget and sticking it in a drawer for the year. You need to constantly measure your results against your predicted budget figures and catch small problems before they become an issue.

Here are our tips to making budgeting work for your small business


  1. Update the budget every month and analyse your variances. If you have your budget set up correctly in a spreadsheet this should be a simple case of plugging in figures.
  2. Set up a very simple system for your budget. If it takes too much time, you wont do it. `
  3. Build up a cash reserve. Budgeting should help you control costs and cash flow. In uncertain economic times  a cash reserve will help you sleep at night
  4. Be Conservative. Expecting a 40% sales increase in one month for no apparent reason is not going to end well. If your constantly missing your targets you will become deflated.
  5. Be Flexible. If one of your figures is way out for example you purchased new equiptment which wasn’t planned, you may find production has increased to matcth this.
  6. Accept that budgeting is a form of estimation and by that nature it will never be perfect.
  7. Don’t scrimp too much on critical expenditure which drives sales, For example marketing or sales person commission.

Blind persons tax credit reduction – Whats the point?

I was reading through some of my notes on budget 2011 today. (Exciting way to spend a Saturday afternoon!) and I noticed the Blind persons tax credit has been reduced from €1830 to €1650. I began to wonder how much revenue this move would generate for the exchequer and what was the point in changing it?

Firstly I found out here at VISPA that there is 14,000 blind people based in Ireland. The only survey I could find in relation to employment among blind people didn’t cover Ireland, but did cover the UK. In the UK 25% of blind people are in employment. I am going to presume the figure is the same in Ireland.

That means out of our 14,000 blind people just 3,500 would be employed.

Presently in Ireland 50% of workers are outside the tax net. Thats set to change next year so i’m going to assume that 40% of those 3,500 blind people working are in either low paid or part time jobs and outside of the tax net.

That now leaves me with 2100 employed and paying tax. The blind tax credit reduced from €1830 to €1650 thats a reduction of €180 per individual. €180 times the 2100 employed individuals is a net effect to the exchequer of  €378,000 per annum.

Given the massive rates of unemployment in the blind community  in Europe (Im assuming Ireland is the same  based on this study here) I believe this change is foolhardy in the extreme. One tiny change to the travel or expenses policy in FAS or a similar quango could net the same revenue to the exchequer.

Tax is a tool to effect social policy for example the plastic bag levy drastically reduced our use of plastic bags – A good thing. Now we have a tax change which is taxing a group in society whom we should be encouraging back into the work place.

Reliefs being abolished – Budget 2011

ABOLITION OF RELIEFS (from 1 January 2011 unless
otherwise stated)
Rent Relief to be phased out over 8 years; the same timeline as previously announced for Mortgage Interest Relief.
Patent Royalty Exemption, effective from the launch of the National Recovery Plan on 24 November 2010.
Tax relief on Loans to Acquire an Interest in Certain Companies.
Abolition of tax relief for Trade Union Subscriptions.
Termination of the scheme of accelerated capital allowances for farmers who incur capital expenditure on farm buildings and structures for use in the control of pollution.
Tax exemption from BIK for Employer Provided Childcare.
Abolition of tax relief on subscriptions to professional bodies.
Capital expenditure on new machinery and plant for use in mining.
Approved Share Options Scheme, effective from the launch of the National Recovery Plan on 24 November 2010.
Tax relief for new shares purchased by employees.
Exemption from Tax in respect of grants or payments to the National Co-Operative Farm Relief Services Limited.

Budget 2011 passes through Dáil

Budget 2011, one of the toughest on record with €6bn in tax hikes and spending cuts, was passed in the Dáil last night with a comfortable majority for the Government.

The budget was passed after vote of 82 to 77 in favour of the financial measures.

Independents Michael Lowry and Jackie Healy-Rae both voted with the Government, as did former Fianna Fáil TD Joe Behan.

The vote was the first major hurdle for the budget but necessary legislation to push through some of its measures must now be passed in the Dáil. First up today is the Social Welfare Bill.

Last night, the IMF welcomed the approval of the budget.

It said, “This is a clear sign of Ireland’s strong commitment to tackle its problems and harness the impressive growth potential of this open and dynamic economy.”

A meeting has now been scheduled for Friday with managing director Dominique Strauss-Kahn ready to return from Washington to chair. It is understood the Fund will consider its €22.5bn loan to Ireland at the meeting

Taken from