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When thinking about creating a budget for your small business there are a few things to consider first:
- What is an actual budget – read about that here
- Why do you need a small business budget – read about that here
- Next, what categories should you be including in that budget
That’s what this week’s post is all about. Using the correct small business budget categories will go a long way towards making sure that you are accurately considering the true costs of running your business, will make your accountant love you at tax time and help you prepare for future growth!
Business Budget Categories: What are we talking about
Now we’ve already discussed what sections need to be in your small business budget – if you missed that there are 5 and you can read about them here. That’s not what we are covering today. Today it’s about which costs and items you need to make sure you’re considering when you are tallying everything up!
You see, when we are thinking about costs we very often forget to include all the things that we should. It’s ok, it happens to us all, especially those pesky ones that only come up once per year! That’s why having a small business budget is so important! So let’s talk about which things you should be making sure you have addressed.
Business Budget Categories: Common items to consider
This list covers all the most common areas of a small business budget. Since you, my beautiful readers, are primarily online business owners there are some you will have to spend less time on but I have included them anyway!
- Accounting Software – whether you use Quickbooks, Freshbooks, Xero or something else you need to be tracking your finances (did you expect anything less from me?) You don’t have to do the management yourself, you can always pay a bookkeeper. No matter which system you prefer, it should track your small business budget and it will include all these business budget categories as well so that should make it easy!
- Advertising & Marketing – think Facebook ads, Google ads and other things like podcast placements, wedding shows, etc. Frequently an item that the inexperienced like to cut down on…to their own detriment. This could also include photography sessions or purchased stock photography, landing page services, etc.
- Bank Charges & Fees – frankly, you should NOT be using a bank account for your business that charges fees. I recently started using Novo and it’s incredible. Not only does it have zero fees but it’s a business partner with Stripe so you pay less processing fees when using Stripe for payments as well. Win-win!
- Contractors – these are the support folks you have that either do one-off work for you or you pay monthly on a retainer basis. Think virtual assistants, bookkeepers, online business managers, ghost writers, etc.
- Insurance – do you have insurance for your business? If it’s not something you’ve ever considered you may want to. There’s a great article you can read here about all the different types of insurance you may want to think about. Especially as a business owner you want to protect your income and your personal assets as well.
- Job Supplies – are their specific supplies you need to create your product or service? This category is for those, primarily for those who sell physical products. This could also include course delivery platform (my favorite after trying them ALL is Kartra)
- Legal & Professional Services – This is for the attorney you use to create your LLC or your client contracts (please tell me you are using contracts!). It can also include your CPA for your taxes. If you need help with contracts there are some amazing contract templates you can get at The Contract Shop!
- Meals & Entertainment – Do you meet with your clients in person? Do you chat over coffee? This category covers those things. If you do this often it should absolutely be included in your budget!
- Office Supplies & Equipment – this is all the stuff you need to do the regular ol’ business stuff: computer, email distribution provider, website hosting, Canva, domain hosting, social media scheduler, etc.
- Other Business Expenses – this is for other stuff that you don’t see listed and most often for entrepreneurs you should be thinking about education here. Business coaching, learning a new skill, getting a new certification, etc.
- Rent &/or Lease – if you have a brick and mortar space this is for you. There are very strict guidelines about whether you can do this if you work from home so please check with your CPA about whether your space qualifies for this taxwise.
- Repairs & Maintenance – If you have equipment you will eventually need to replace it: computer, microphone, headphones, camera, other tools used to create products, etc. Save for this stuff now in your budget so you don’t have to scramble when it happens
- Taxes & Licenses – Do you pay annual business license fees, LLC fees, licensure fees for your certifications or license to practice your work? Include these here as well as what you should be setting aside for your taxes. In the US, most small businesses should file taxes quarterly, this is why you should invest in a CPA as one of your first contractors! You do NOT want to figure this out on your own. It’s a hassle.
- Travel – Do you see clients in person? There are rules around business travel and you can discuss those with your CPA but it is well worth exploring if travelling is a key component of your business. Even if you’re not wanting the write-off taxwise (although if you can, you should!) If you want to go to a fun conference or retreat, think about placing some money aside for it!
- Utilities – again, straightforward if you are a brick and mortar business; check with CPA for home utility write off options.
Budget Categories: Not just for bills but savings too
Whoo! I know that was a big list! You may not have current expenses (aka bills) in each category and that’s ok. Don’t sign up for more bills just because you have categories to fill. The list is for you to make sure you aren’t forgetting anything important!
Small business budget categories are not just for bills though, you should also make sure you are saving for future expenses. If you have annual bills that are due, make sure you are setting aside a monthly amount so that the money will be there when you need it. If you want to buy a new computer next year, price it and then calculate how much you need to save.
Budget Categories: Final Thoughts
No matter which small business budget categories you use the most it is important to cover all your expenses in your monthly budget somewhere. If you only plan for what is “due” that month you will fall victim to a classic error that will have you scrambling, ill-prepared and likely out of business.
And remember you don’t have to track all of your expenses yourself. One of the first things you can and should outsource is your bookkeeping and find yourself a good CPA. In fact, you can hire someone who will manage the whole financial aspect of your business for you! If you want to know only the high level information so you can make the decisions for your business but leave all the nitty gritty details to someone else, then the Anti-CFO service is for you.
I manage all the bookkeeping, connect with your CPA (don’t worry we can find one together if you need), run your reports and develop a financial growth strategy for your business for you to review and that we implement together. It’s the highest level of professional service I offer. Ready to get started? Fill out the inquiry form to set up an intake call now