Business budgets are a source of truth for your income and expenses. That includes all the money you spend — from A/B testing your marketing campaigns to your monthly office rent.
While organizing the numbers may sound difficult, using a business budget template makes the process simple. Plus, there are thousands of business budget templates for you to choose from.
We’ll share seven budget templates that can help organize your finances. But first, you’ll learn about different types of business budgets and how to create one.
What is a Business Budget?
A business budget is a spending plan that estimates the revenue and expenses of a business for a period of time, typically monthly, quarterly, or yearly.
The business budget follows a set template, which you can fill in with estimated revenues, plus any recurring or expected business expenses.
For example, say your business is planning a website redesign. You’d need to break down the costs by category: software, content and design, testing, and more.
Having a clear breakdown will help you estimate how much each category will cost and compare it with the actual costs.
Types of Budgets for a Business
- Master Budget
- Operating Budget
- Cash Budget
- Static Budget
- Departmental Budget
- Capital Budget
- Labor Budget
- Project Budget
Business budgets aren’t one size fits all. In fact, there are many different types of budgets that serve various purposes. Let’s dive into some commonly used budgets:
Think of a master budget as the superhero of budgets — it brings together all the individual budgets from different parts of your company into one big, consolidated plan. It covers everything from sales and production to marketing and finances.
It includes details like projected revenues, expenses, and profitability for each department or business unit. It also considers important financial aspects like cash flow, capital expenditures, and even creates a budgeted balance sheet to show the organization’s financial position.
The master budget acts as a guide for decision-making, helps with strategic planning, and gives a clear picture of the overall financial health and performance of your company. It’s like the master plan that ties everything together and helps the organization move in the right direction.
Your operating budget helps your company figure out how much money it expects to make and spend during a specific period, usually a year. It not only predicts the revenue your business will bring in, but also outlines expenses it will need to cover, like salaries, rent, bills, and other operational costs.
By comparing your actual expenses and revenue to the budgeted amounts, your company can see how it’s performing and make adjustments if needed. It helps keep things in check, allowing your business to make wise financial decisions and stay on track with its goals.
A cash budget estimates the cash inflows and outflows of your business over a specific period, typically a month, quarter, or year. It provides a detailed projection of cash sources and uses, including revenue, expenses, and financing activities.
The cash budget helps you effectively manage your cash flow, plan for cash shortages or surpluses, evaluate the need for external financing, and make informed decisions about resource allocation.
By utilizing a cash budget, your business can ensure it has enough cash on hand to meet its financial obligations, navigate fluctuations, and seize growth opportunities.
A static budget is a financial plan that remains unchanged, regardless of actual sales or production volumes.
It’s typically created at the beginning of a budget period and doesn’t account for any fluctuations or changes in business conditions. It also assumes that all variables, such as sales, expenses, and production levels, will remain the same throughout the budget period.
While a static budget provides a baseline for comparison, it may not be realistic for businesses with fluctuating sales volumes or variable expenses.
A departmental budget focuses on the financial aspects of a specific department within your company, such as sales, marketing or human resources.
When creating a departmental budget, you may look at revenue sources like departmental sales, grants, and other sources of income. On the expense side, you consider costs such as salaries, supplies, equipment, and any other expenses unique to that department.
The goal of a departmental budget is to help the department manage its finances wisely. It acts as a guide for making decisions and allocating resources effectively. By comparing the actual numbers to the budgeted amounts, department heads can see if they’re on track or if adjustments need to be made.
A capital budget is all about planning for big investments in the long term. It focuses on deciding where to spend money on things like upgrading equipment, maintaining facilities, developing new products, and hiring new employees.
The budget looks at the costs of buying new stuff, upgrading existing things, and even considers depreciation, which is when something loses value over time. It also considers the return on investment, like how much money these investments might bring in or how they could save costs in the future.
The budget also looks at different ways to finance these investments, whether it’s through loans, leases, or other options. It’s all about making smart decisions for the future, evaluating cash flow, and choosing investments that will help the company grow and succeed.
A labor budget helps you plan and manage the costs related to your employees. It involves figuring out how much your business will spend on wages, salaries, benefits, and other labor-related expenses.
To create a labor budget, you’ll need to consider factors like how much work needs to be done, how many folks you’ll need to get it done, and how much it’ll all cost. This can help your business forecast and control labor-related expenses and ensure adequate staffing levels.
By having a labor budget in place, your business can monitor and analyze your labor costs to make informed decisions and optimize your resources effectively.
A project budget is the financial plan for a specific project.
Let’s say you have an exciting new project you want to tackle. A project budget helps you figure out how much money you’ll need and how it will be allocated. It covers everything from personnel to equipment and materials — basically, anything you’ll need to make the project happen.
By creating a project budget, you can make sure the project is doable from a financial standpoint. It helps you keep track of how much you planned to spend versus how much you actually spend as you go along. That way, you have a clear idea of whether you’re staying on track or if there are any financial challenges that need attention.
How to Create a Business Budget
While creating a business budget can be straightforward, the process may be more complex for larger companies with multiple revenue streams and expenses.
No matter the size of your business, here are the basic steps to creating a business budget.
1. Gather financial data.
Before you create a business budget, it’s important to gather insights from your past financial data. By looking at things like income statements, expense reports, and sales data, you can spot trends, learn from past experiences, and see where you can make improvements.
Going through your financial history helps you paint a true picture of your income and expenses. So, when you start creating your budget, you can set achievable targets and make sure your estimates match what’s actually been happening in your business.
2. Find a template, or make a spreadsheet.
There are many free or paid budget templates online. You can start with an already existing budget template. We list a few helpful templates below.
You may also opt to make a spreadsheet with custom rows and columns based on your business.
3. Fill in revenues.
Once you have your template, start by listing all the sources of your business’ income. With a budget, you’re planning for the future, so you’ll also need to forecast revenue streams based on previous months or years. For a new small business budget, you’ll rely on your market research to estimate early revenue for your company.
When you estimate your revenue, you’re essentially figuring out how much money you have to work with. This helps you decide where to allocate your resources and which expenses you can fund.
4. Subtract fixed costs for the time period.
Fixed costs are the recurring costs you have during each month, quarter, or year. Examples include insurance, rent for office space, website hosting, and internet.
The key thing to remember about fixed costs is that they stay relatively stable, regardless of changes in business activity. Even if your sales decrease or production slows down, these costs remain the same.
However, it’s important to note that fixed costs can still change over the long term, such as when renegotiating lease agreements or adjusting employee salaries.
5. Consider variable costs.
Variable costs will change from time to time. Unlike fixed costs, variable costs increase or decrease as the level of production or sales changes.
Examples include raw materials needed to manufacture your products, packaging and shipping costs, utility bills, advertising costs, office supplies, and new software or technology.
You may always need to pay some variable costs, like utility bills. However, you can shift how much you spend toward other expenses, like advertising costs, when you have a lower-than-average estimated income.
6. Set aside time for business budget planning.
Unexpected expenses might come up, or you might want to save to expand your business. Either way, review your budget after including all expenses, fixed costs, and variable costs. Once completed, you can determine how much money you can save.
It’s wise to create multiple savings accounts. One should be used for emergencies. The other holds money that can be spent on the business to drive growth.
How to Manage a Business Budget
There are a few key components to managing a healthy business budget.
The process all starts with properly preparing and planning the budget at the beginning of each month, quarter, or year. You can also create multiple budgets, some short-term and some long-term. During this stage, you will also set spending limits and create a system to regularly monitor the budget.
In larger businesses, you might delegate budget tracking to multiple supervisors. But even if you’re a one-person show, keep a close eye on your budget. That means setting a time in your schedule each day or week to review the budget and track actual income and expenses. Be sure to compare the actual numbers to the estimates.
With regular budget tracking, you always know how your business is doing. Check in regularly to determine how you are doing in terms of revenue and where you have losses. Find where you can minimize expenses and how you can move more money into savings.
Why is a Budget Important for a Business?
A budget is crucial for businesses. Without one, you could easily be drowning in expenses or unexpected costs.
The business budget helps with several operations. You can use a business budget to keep track of your finances, save money to help you grow the business or pay bonuses in the future, and prepare for unexpected expenses or emergencies.
You can also review your budget to determine when to take the next leap for your business. For example, you might be dreaming of a larger office building or the latest software, but you want to make sure you have a healthy net revenue before you make the purchase.
Best Free Business Budget Templates
Knowing how to manage a marketing budget can be a challenge, but with helpful free templates like this marketing budget template bundle, you can track everything from advertising expenses to events and more.
This free bundle includes eight different templates, so you can create multiple budgets to help you determine how much money to put toward marketing, plus the return on your investment.
For small businesses, it can be hard to find the time to draw up a budget, but it’s crucial to help keep the business in good health.
Capterra offers a budget template specifically for small businesses. Plus, this template works with Excel. Start by inputting projections for the year. Then, the spreadsheet will project the month-to-month budget. You can input your actual revenue and expenses to compare, making profits and losses easy to spot.
What if you don’t have any previous numbers to rely on to create profit and expense estimates? If you are a startup, this Gusto budget template will help you draw up a budget before your business is officially in the market. This will help you track all the expenses you need to get your business up and running, estimate your first revenues, and determine where to pinch pennies.
You might be familiar with Intuit. Many companies, big and small, rely on Intuit’s services like Quickbooks and TurboTax. Even if you don’t use the company’s paid financial services, you can take advantage of Intuit’s free budget template, which works in Google Sheets or Excel.
It features multiple spreadsheet tabs and simple instructions. You enter your revenue in one specific tab and expenses in another. You can also add additional tabs as needed. Then, like magic, the spreadsheet uses the data in the income and expense tabs to summarize the information. This template can even determine net savings and the ending balance.
A mid- to large-size company will have multiple departments, all with different budgetary needs. These budgets will all be consolidated into a massive, company-wide budget sheet. Having a specific template for each department can help teams keep track of spending and plan for growth.
This free template from Template.net works in either document or spreadsheet formats. This budget template can help different departments keep track of their income and spending.
Every new project comes with expenses. This free budget template from Monday will help your team estimate costs before undertaking a project. You can easily spot if you’re going over budget midway through a project so you can adjust.
This template is especially useful for small companies that are reporting budgets to clients and for in-house teams getting buy-in for complex projects.
Want to keep track of every penny? Use this template from TemplateLab to draw up a detailed budget. The list of expenses includes fixed costs, employee costs, and variable costs. This business template can be especially useful for small businesses that want to keep track of expenses in one, comprehensive document.
Create a Business Budget to Help Your Company Grow
Making your first business budget can be daunting, especially if you have several revenue streams and expenses. Using a budget template can make getting started easy. And, once you get it set up, these templates are simple to replicate.
With little planning and regular monitoring, you can plan for the future of your business.
Editor’s note: This post was originally published in September 2021 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.