Planning your budget for next year? Here are the first four of eight big considerations to think about when you’re in the planning stages. Don’t get caught making these mistakes and scrambling to fix them later in the year.

Part 1

1.) Not using your tools.

Work smart, not hard and build an amazing spreadsheet with embedded formulas to shave time on crunching numbers and to give you an immediate sense of how the budget is affected when you take items out or add items in. Here are some good online sources for excel budget spreadsheets:

2.) Not taking staff and board schedules into account.

If you are governed by a board or committee, and will need voting approval at certain spending levels for programs, make sure you have them budgeted early enough to get on the agenda and voted on during the monthly or bi monthly meeting. Note: Many boards/committees take the summer off which can be problematic for getting approvals.  If you only need the general consensus of your executive team or marketing team, try to add the briefing on to an existing meeting agenda for time management and ease of scheduling.

3.) Working too broad.

It’s great to put a stake in the ground and to get started dividing your budget into buckets, but without the program details you will not have a useful plan and will more likely than not, spend your entire budget – or not spend it  effectively.  It’s best to detail out as much as you can plan for and even take some educated guesses in the beginning. Then as you research and learn more, you can fine tune the numbers and build on additional support materials, advertising or services needed.

4.) Working too tight.

Let’s be real here. Planning and anticipating every detail of an annual budget is impossible. Unless you have budget planning super powers, you will be revising your budget monthly if not weekly. So don’t sweat it, plan to a mid-level of detail and leave some cushion for flexibility. Besides, if you plan too tightly, the budget becomes constraining and burdensome, which could lead to negligent maintenance.

The overall goal is to have an annually planned budget that is currently updated within 30 days and has a defined road map of what is planned, spent and approved at any given time.

Keep your eye out for the final four mistakes to avoid in budget planning coming soon from the Creative Brief.