Five out of six Americans admit to making impulse purchases, according to a CreditCards.com poll. Women are especially prone to impulse shopping when suffering from depression, which can be a problem for women entrepreneurs. Female business owners only receive 2 percent of venture capital despite owning 38 percent of U.S. businesses, and the consequences of going over budget can be particularly devastating.
If you’re trying to curb your business impulse spending habits, consider the following tips to help you only buy what your business needs:
Create a Business Plan With Financial Statements
One of the best ways to make sure you don’t make unnecessary purchases is to use a business plan to guide your budget. A business plan should include projections for your company’s finances three to five years into the future. This means you need to map out your revenue as well as your expenses. For your first year, you should create projections for each month or quarter. For succeeding years, you should use quarterly or annual projections.
You need to create three key financial statements for each year. These are your income statement (also known as a profit and loss statement), your balance sheet and your cash flow statement.
- Your income statement includes a summary of your projected sales, operating expenses, operating income and non-operating revenue and expenses. Together, these yield your net income. Your operating expenses include items that are directly related to your daily business operations, such as payroll and advertising. Your operating income is your sales minus your operating expenses. Non-operating revenue and expenses include interest revenue, gain on sale of investments, interest expenses and losses, such as sales of property or equipment below book value. Add your operating income and non-operating totals together to get your net income.
- Your balance sheet summarizes your assets, liabilities and shareholders’ equity at a given point in time. These items must balance out since your assets must be paid for from either your liabilities or your shareholders’ equity.
- Your cash flow statement shows how much money is coming into and going out of your business over a given period. This includes cash generated and used for operations, investing, financing and other activities. Keeping accurate track of your cash flow is particularly important for making sure you don’t run out of money in a given month.
If you need help creating your business plan, SCORE provides templates you can follow.
Prioritize Your Expenses
Start prioritizing your expenses by dividing them into three categories: daily operations, growing your business and transforming your business.
- Keeping your daily operations running is essential to staying in business. Therefore, you should always set aside enough money for this category of expenses.
- Growing your business involves tasks like upgrading you and your staff’s skill set, buying more efficient software and increasing your advertising activity. These items are secondary to keeping your operations running, so you should adjust your budget to spend more on them when you have more profit coming in and less when times are tight.
- Transforming your business involves activities such as researching and developing a new product line and changing your fundamental business processes. These types of activities should be the last items you spend money on when profits are high, and the first to cut back on when budgets run low.
Automate Your Expenses
One way to make sure you keep your priority expenses covered is by automating them. For instance, you can set up automatic payments for vendors to pay for your operating expenses. You can automate your expense management more easily by using an accounting software program like Sage 50c. This tool lets you automate expenses such as purchasing, shipping and payroll.
Following these three steps will help you plan your spending, prioritize your expenses and ensure you always keep your most important expenses covered. By following these guidelines, you can see how much is left for discretionary spending and be confident that it won’t break your budget.