If you want to stabilise your finances and grow the business, working to strict budgets becomes a necessity. Managing the cashflow twists and turns of a project can be hard work. But it’s easier to do when you have an agreed budget and can track your spending and performance.
So, what’s the best way to stay in control of the budgets you’ve set? And how can you manage your cashflow position to make sure there’s always enough cash to fund the project?
Understand the costs of each project
Starting a project without fully understanding how much it will cost is a no-no. To keep on top of costs, overheads, staff expenses and general spending, you need at least a ballpark figure for this expenditure. In an ideal world, you’ll want to be as precise as possible with these costs.
Run through the project from start to finish and highlight every point where there will be costs to incur. It might be the cost of your raw materials. It may be the cost of buying new equipment. It could be the payroll costs for the people actively working on the project. Break everything down and come up with a total expense for the project. This is your starting point.
Set your budget and track it over time
Once you know your baseline cost for the project, you and your team should decide on the amount of funds to allocate to the budget. Your baseline cost is a starting point, but don’t forget to include extra for specific contingencies. What if the project overruns? What if your raw material costs go sky high? What if you need more people to get the job over the line?
Agree on a clear budget and set up your finance system to track spending against this budget. With a cloud accounting system at the heart of the business, it’s very easy to create a budget and then record and track your spending over time.
Keep a close eye on budgets and project cashflow
One of the big things to remember is that a budget is not a static thing. You’ll obviously aim to stick to your initial costs, but prices and availability will affect the total spend over time. Because of this, it’s vital to not just write the budget and then forget about it.
Keep a close eye on your budget performance and the cashflow for each project. Being able to review this performance, in real time, should help you avoid overspending, or running out of cash for the project. And when the cash in the kitty is getting low, you can get proactive and look at ways to top up the budget, or rein in spending in other areas of the project.
Take action to maintain your positive cashflow position
Balancing the cashflow scales on a project isn’t easy. But when you spot that there’s a potential hole in the budget, the important thing is to do something about it, pronto!
Running any project with your fingers crossed that ‘it will all work out in the end’ is a recipe for disaster. And with such detailed budget reports and cashflow forecasts available with today’s finance apps, there’s really no need to be disorganised about your spending.
- Setting up key metrics for each project, to measure spending, cashflow and progress
- Run worst-case and best-case cashflow scenarios, so you’re prepared for anything
- Regularly reviewing your spending and looking for areas to make savings
- Taking on finance facilities to plug any cashflow holes as they appear.
If you’re thinking about scaling up your established startup, please do get in touch. We’ll help you build solid, workable budgets that can be easily tracked through your accounting system.
Once you’ve sold your business and have received the funds from the sale, you’re then faced with a big question: what happens next?
After guiding the helm of your company, it will be tough to let go. But if the circumstances are right, there’s no reason why exiting the business should be a sad occasion. You’ve built a stable business and personal legacy. You’ve employed a team of talented people and helped them drive their careers. And you’ve brought your products and/or services to a satisfied and loyal customer base.
So, how will you now focus your time and effort? Let’s look at your options…
Retire and live out the entrepreneur’s dream
After many years of hard work, worries and stress, the thought of a business-free lifestyle may well be appealing. But retirement isn’t for everyone. If you have thrived on the pressure, challenges and excitement of being the captain of your business ship, retiring may seem like a step away from the action.
On the flipside, the allure of a more relaxed lifestyle may be strong. With the proceeds from your sale, you should be in a position to make you, your family and those around you very comfortable. It may be that the entrepreneur’s dream of building a business, selling up and retiring to a hot climate is your idea of perfection.
Stay involved in the business
Even though you don’t own the business anymore, it doesn’t mean you have to step away completely from the company. You could remain involved in the business in some capacity, allowing you to ‘keep your hand in’ and support the future course of the business.
For example, you could become:
- A joint partner in the business – you could sell a part share in the business and work as a joint partner with your new investor. This allows you to free up some capital, while maintaining an element of control and influence.
- An external adviser or consultant – you could advise the new owner and their board as an outside adviser. After all, who knows this business better than you? Becoming a consultant could well be an astute move and keeps you in the loop with the future path of the business – while charging out a consultancy fee as an added benefit.
- A non-executive director (NED) – you could join the board as a NED and use your personal experience to help guide and support the new owner and their board. If that’s the route you choose, it’s a good idea to retain some shares in the business, so you have a vested interest in the company’s performance and your own share value.
- An informal adviser to your family – if you’re handing the business down to the next generation of your family, they will almost certainly want your advice. You’ve been through the ups and downs of setting up the business, so you’re in the best position to give your family the guidance and tips they need to run a smooth operation.
Set up a new business
With so much experience behind you, it could be that you’re itching to start the whole business cycle again. If you’ve got the ideas, the capital and the motivation to start another new business, this can be a new and rewarding challenge to get your teeth into.
First time around, you’ll have been a little green and less aware of the many pitfalls of founding a new business. You’re now better prepared and more knowledgeable about what’s required from a founder and business leader. We learn plenty from our mistakes, so you’re in a great position to return to the business cycle again with a new idea.
As with any new businesses venture:
- Make sure you have a detailed breakdown of your business idea
- Write an in-depth business plan that maps out your journey
- Ensure you have the funding to get this idea off the ground
- Be prepared for a period of hard work and lower income before the company takes off.
Do your bit for charity and your community
We all have interests and causes that are close to our heart, so supporting charities and community projects in these areas is a great way to use your money for long-term good.
Donating money to your chosen charity or social enterprise is also a triple whammy:
- You get to provide funding to causes that are close to your heart
- You can be philanthropic and help people who are in challenging situations
- You get the positive impact of tax breaks for donating to charity.
You also have the option of putting your own time into working with these charitable causes. You can use your expertise and experience to guide them, help with fundraising or provide hands-on support at events, community projects or lobbying the Government for greater support.
The end of the road, or a new chapter?
Once the business is sold and you close your office door for the last time, you take a step into the unknown. But with so many varied and valuable options to choose from, your life post-exit need never be boring or predictable.
The potential is there for an exciting new venture, or the pleasure of relaxing in the sunshine by the pool. It’s up to you to define the next chapter in your life and your business career.
If you’re thinking about exiting your business, please do get in touch. We’ll help you plan your exit strategy, add value pre-sale and choose the best options for your personal future.
Talk to us about your next step.
Ascentant Accountancy are based in Derby (01332 981920, firstname.lastname@example.org) and Ripley, Derbyshire (01773 424009, Ripley@ascentant.co.uk), call us to see how we can assist.