As you begin the year, you’re probably developing a new budget for your business. No matter how much you sell, there’s no quicker path to a cash shortage than bad budgeting. Here are a few tips to ensure you make the most accurate budget possible for 2018. DON’T UNDERESTIMATE EXPENSES Whether you’re talking about internal projects, marketing initiatives, or client services, you should always assume you’ll encounter unexpected costs. If you don’t leave wiggle room in your budget, you’ll have to borrow cash allocated to other endeavors. “Every project seems to have an extra cost that was never anticipated,” notes Shufflrr CEO James Ontra. It’s much better to budget for these speed bumps than run out of gas before you reach the finish line. ACCOUNT FOR FLUCTUATIONS Even if you don’t sell Christmas trees or pool toys, your business probably has a sales cycle. Assuming that your revenue and spending will be consistent throughout the year sets you up for failure. While making your budget, be sure to consider when you expect an off-season. This will allow you to focus on marketing efforts in your downtime and keep profits coming in when you need them most. Similarly, you should limit unnecessary spending during the months when you expect revenue to be down. MAKE REALISTIC PROJECTIONS Too many companies look at the future with rose-tinted glasses. “You never want to be in a position where you’re spending more than you have coming in,” says Annie Scranton, owner of Pace Public Relations. How do you end up in this quagmire? There’s no surer way than projecting huge growth without the data to back it up. Your sales forecast needs to be realistic, if not a little lean. After all, 20 percent extra in revenue is a bonus, but 20 percent under can be a catastrophe. YOUR BUDGET ISN’T ONE AND DONE So, you’ve finished a budget, but that doesn’t mean it will never change. At the very least, you should review your planning on a quarterly basis. Change is the only constant in the business world, and adaptability based on profit patterns is a key component of budgeting success. Tips for Small Businesses DON’T BLOW YOUR 2018 BUDGET!
When two MIT graduates, Dharmesh Shah and Brian Halligan, observed that customers weren’t responding to tried and true marketing tactics — and that Shah’s unassuming blog was driving way more web traffic than sites with huge marketing budgets — they created Hubspot, a marketing and sales software company. Shah and Halligen realized that most companies were forgetting about the human element of sales. Instead of helping people, these businesses treated customers like numbers, all in the pursuit of their bottom line. So, they started Hubspot to do the opposite. They decided to help other businesses forge human relationships with their customers and create an “inbound world.” Knowing Hubspot’s origin story, it comes as no surprise that their No. 1 salesperson, Sharen Murnaghan, lives by the mantra of “Always be helping.” She and Hubspot both believe that helping others is part of business. When you look at Hubspot’s “About Us” page, you’ll notice their vision is to build a company where business is “empathetic, human, and personable.” Before joining Hubspot, Murnaghan had a successful sales career in the publishing world, but was ready for something new. She had an impressive amount of sales experience but almost no knowledge of digital marketing, an industry she knew was clearly on the rise. So, “armed with nothing but a desire to learn and a willingness to work hard,” she enrolled in a digital marketing course, got a certification, and eventually found her way to Hubspot. She started in an entry-level sales position, and, after putting in 12-hour days and many more hours of continued education, she became their No. 1 salesperson. She’s held the spot ever since. Besides putting in her time, what strategies got her there? Murnaghan found success by exercising the same values that Hubspot was built on. “People don’t want to be interrupted by marketers or harassed by salespeople,” Shah and Halligan say of their empathetic approach. “They want to be helped.” Murnaghan’s interactions with customers hinged on her desire to help others, and she was determined to carry out that mission. Once, she connected a client’s daughter with friends in Canada after learning the girl was starting university there. What lessons can we glean from Murnaghan’s and Hubspot’s success? Don’t forget about the simple act of helping people. Make this a priority above selling a good or service. As you shape and define your company’s values, hire people who exemplify them. Like Murnaghan, if they live your values, they’ll wow your clients, build relationships, and bring you both to the top. HELPING PEOPLE ISN’T JUST FOR NONPROFITS
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