If a business owner said to you that they run their business without a budget, what would you think? You’d think they were incompetent. Or perhaps lazy? Or both?
But what do most families do?
When you think about it, a family is actually a mini business. There is income, there are expenses and there is, hopefully, something left over to invest and to enjoy.
So why don’t most families operate to a budget?
The principles behind winning in business and winning in sport are similar in many ways.
Take tennis, for example. If you’ve ever watched a match on television, you’ll know that along with all the hitting, running and grunting there are a lot of numbers involved.
So you’ve got a great idea for your business, but you don’t have the funds right now to get it off the ground.
You could try applying for a government grant, but it’s often a long and arduous bureaucratic process of form filling and there are of course no guarantees you’ll get the money. Some governments also offer tax incentives for research and development, but usually you need to spend the money before you can get it back.
Cloud computing and web-based apps have undoubtedly improved business efficiency. But once you and your team start using various online apps, one aspect quickly becomes inefficient (not to mention downright annoying): having to repeatedly enter usernames and passwords to log in.
It’s bad enough having to enter a multitude of login credentials when you first open the apps each morning. But many apps automatically log you out if you haven’t been using them for a few minutes. And while it’s a nice security feature, it means you have to repeat the entire process whenever you take a breather.
When a prospective client asks you for a quote, it’s a powerful opportunity to make a sale. In fact, with the right response you may be able to ‘seal the deal’ almost immediately.
But if you take your time to respond, provide wildly different quotes for similar work, or otherwise send bad signals about your business, you could easily lose that client. Which is a pity, because it seemed they really wanted to do business with you.
That quote (or proposal, which we’ll get to in a moment) is where you can win the client over and get the sale.
Or lose them both.
Most people will quite literally earn millions of dollars in their lifetime. Yet many people struggle financially and live from one pay period to the next.
With the ageing population and many Baby Boomers now continuing to work—at least on a part-time basis—past the traditional retirement age, people are working more years than ever. Even if a person works only 40 years, at average earnings, that’s a lot of money.
It is said, “Money talks”, but for many, all it ever says is, “Hello, and Good-bye”.
For many, the word ‘budget’ is about as appealing as the word ‘diet’.
It seems to imply what you will go without, rather than what you will achieve.
To a successful business owner, however, the word ‘budget’ has a very different meaning.
They say only two things are certain in life: death and taxes. For a lot of people, there’s also a third certainty in life: the pain of keeping track of every receipt when it’s time to do the taxes.
How many times has your bookkeeper or finance manager asked you for a receipt (that you swore you stuffed somewhere in the wad of receipts in your wallet) that you’ve then had to scramble and search everywhere to find?
Thomas Edison once said that “Genius is one percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration”.
Unfortunately, going from that inspirational idea to the finished product takes a lot more than hard work. Just like Edison, you also need to invest in a lot of research and development.
And R&D doesn’t come cheap.
Success in business requires a number of essential ingredients. A sound strategy. A robust business model. Effective planning. Strong financial control and bookkeeping. A good team. Great systems. Measurement. Focus.
But you know what? Even all those elements are not enough without this skill: Execution.
Call it “Getting Things Done”, making things happen, the action habit, extreme focus… call it what you like, for many entrepreneurs it’s what separates mediocre from magic. It’s the difference between a business that plods along from one year to the next, and one that grows, evolves, impresses, enriches.