male and female accountants working on budgeting using laptops with calculators on table

Budgeting Methods: 3 Ways that Work Best for Small Businesses

Finding the right budgeting method is crucial for financial success as a small business owner. This blog post discusses three budgeting methods that have proven effective for small businesses. But first, let’s see why a business needs budgeting. 

The power of budgeting in business

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John and Jane were the proud owners of a small coffee shop. Despite the steady stream of customers coming through their doors, they had always struggled to make ends meet. They needed to find a way to manage their finances better to keep their business afloat.

That’s when they turned to budget—with the help of a financial advisor, John and Jane created a budget that considered all of their income and expenses. They were surprised to discover that they had overspending on inventory and employee wages.

By adjusting their budget, John and Jane could reduce costs and increase profits. They could pay off debt, save for the future, and expand their business. Budgeting may have been a daunting task at first, but it ultimately helped John and Jane get their finances under control and keep their coffee shop thriving.

Maximize financial success through budgeting

Budgeting is essential to the successful management of personal and business finance. Small business owners can identify, manage, and prioritize financial goals, ensuring their assets are allocated appropriately for the desired outcomes.

A clear budget helps keep spending in check, minimizes debt accumulation, improves savings, facilitates investment decisions, and establishes a pathway toward responsible debt management.

Book: Better Your Business Budgeting: The Untold Secrets To Making Your Business Budgeting A Success Rather Than A Nightmare

Budgeting improves financial health by identifying potential areas of weakness and developing strategies to increase cash flow. Businesses that track expenses through detailed budgets may also benefit from tax savings. They create fiscal orders that can lower liability when filing taxes.

Small businesses must incorporate budgeting into their long-term financial strategy to ensure effective decision-making.

Common steps in budgeting methods for business

budgeting methods in business common steps

Budgeting is an essential aspect of financial management for small businesses. It involves creating a plan for allocating your financial resources over a specific period, usually a year. A budget helps you manage your cash flow, track expenses, and make informed decisions about allocating your resources.

Every business must adhere to specific budgeting procedures no matter which budgeting method they follow.

  1. Determine your business’s financial goals: What do you want to achieve in the next year? Your goal could be to increase sales, control expenses, or both.
  2. Identify your sources of income: Make a list of all the sources of income for your business, including sales, investments, and loans.
  3. Estimate your expenses: Make a list of all the expenses your business will incur in the next year, including fixed expenses (such as rent and salaries) and variable expenses (such as supplies and marketing).
  4. Create a budget: Use your income and expense estimates to create a budget for the year. Make sure to analyze the suitability of budgeting methods, allocate your resources wisely, and leave room for unexpected expenses.
  5. Monitor your budget: Keep track of your actual income and expenses and compare them to your budget. Revisit significant deviations and introduce controlling mechanisms to stay on track.

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By following the above steps and creating a budget, you can improve your financial management and increase the chances of success for your small business.

3 budgeting methods for small businesses

For every business, regardless of size, budgeting is a process that requires meticulous attention to detail. It involves accurately assessing activities, setting and revisiting targets, and coordinating between different functions. No matter what approach to adopt, three budgeting methods can be applied to any budget-making process:

Activity-based method

Activity-based budgeting (ABB) is a powerful method of budgeting that focuses on the activities that drive costs in an organization. Unlike traditional budgeting methods, ABB begins with an in-depth analysis of the activities that drive costs within the organization. This analysis is used to create a budget that accurately reflects the actual costs of each activity.

For example, consider a manufacturing company that produces a variety of products. The traditional budgeting method might allocate a fixed amount of money to the production department based on past spending patterns.

However, with an ABB approach, the company would first identify all the activities that drive costs within the production department, such as machine maintenance, raw material purchases, and labor costs.

The company would then allocate funds to each of these activities based on the expected level of expenditure. This allows the company to predict and control costs more accurately, as it can budget for the specific activities that drive expenses rather than relying on broad estimates.

Article: How to Manage Your Business Costs?

ABB is a budgeting method that can be incredibly useful when an organization has a complex business model or operates in a rapidly changing environment. It allows the company to be more agile and responsive to changes in demand or costs.

ABB can also help organizations that want to learn more about what drives their costs since the ABB process requires a detailed analysis of the things that cause costs.

Zero-based budgeting

Zero-based budgeting (ZBB) is a powerful tool for businesses to ensure that every expense is justified and that resources are allocated most efficiently and effectively. Zero-based budgeting doesn’t use the budget and spending from the previous year. Instead, it starts with a clean slate and asks for each expense to be justified for the next period.

For example, a company with a budget of $100,000 for the coming year would typically start by looking at its expenses from the previous year and making adjustments accordingly. However, with zero-based budgeting, the company would begin by considering all its expenses from scratch and justifying each based on its expected value in the coming year.

This could lead to the same expenses being put in the budget, or it could lead to a very different budget if some expenses are not justified or if new expenses are found.

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The primary benefit of the zero-based budgeting method is that it can help a company be more efficient and effective by forcing managers to justify every expense. However, it can also be time-consuming and may only be suitable for some companies.

Incremental approach

The incremental approach to budgeting is creating a budget that builds upon the previous year’s budget, making adjustments based on expected changes in the coming year. This method considers the changes in the business over the past year and includes them in the budget for the coming year.

For instance, let’s say a company has a budget of $100,000 for the current year. During the year, the company experiences increased demand for its products and services, increasing revenue. As a result, the company decided to expand its budget for the coming year by 10%, or $10,000, to reflect the increased demand. The company’s budget for the coming year would therefore be $110,000.

The incremental budgeting method is often utilized for its simplicity and ease of understanding. It also allows companies to make gradual changes to their budget over time, which is especially beneficial for companies that have consistent operations and experience minimal changes from year to year.

Key differences between ABB and ZBB budgeting methods

The various budgeting methods differ in approach and processes. Some key differences between zero-based budgeting and activity-based budgeting include the following:

  • Zero-based budgeting allocates resources, while activity-based budgeting focuses on the activities that drive costs.
  • Zero-based budgeting starts from “zero bases” and requires all expenses to be justified. On the other hand, activity-based budgeting uses a baseline budget and only needs changes from the baseline to be justified.
  • Zero-based budgeting is typically more time-consuming and resource-intensive, requiring a thorough review of all expenses for each budget period. Activity-based budgeting may be less time-consuming, as it only requires a review of the activities that drive costs.
  • Zero-based budgeting may be more effective at identifying and eliminating unnecessary expenses, as all expenses must be justified. Activity-based budgeting might be a better way to figure out and lower the cost of certain activities.

The importance of budgeting and its limitations

Budgeting is a vital tool for organizational management, as it helps allocate resources effectively and achieve overall goals. It involves creating a plan for investments and expenses and can bring transparency to decision-making processes by encouraging debate and bringing interdependencies to light.

The budgeting process can also facilitate coordination between different areas and departments, allowing for early decision-making and promoting commitment and responsibility among those involved.

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However, budgeting has limitations. It can be time-consuming to create and maintain a budget and requires accurate forecasting and estimation, which can be difficult in uncertain or rapidly changing environments.

Moreover, focusing on budget targets can sometimes lead to a narrow, short-term focus rather than a long-term strategic vision. Overall, budgeting can be a powerful tool for management. Still, it is essential for organizations to consider its benefits and limitations carefully and to use it in a way that aligns with their overall goals and objectives.


It would be best if you realized the importance of budgeting for your business now. It is essential for ensuring control and accountability and can help your business thrive this year.

To create a successful budget plan, you need to deeply understand your business requirements and update them regularly to avoid any potential issues in the future. Budgeting constraints are also essential to consider in any budgeting method you follow. 

As an entrepreneur, you are the captain of your business. To ensure success and financial security in the long run, you need to be well-prepared. I offer reliable budgeting services to help you create a solid financial plan for your business. If you need my assistance, please get in touch with me.

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