Reasons For Budgeting

Budgeting involves number-crunching, attention to detail, and making informed decisions about fund allocation—but it’s well worth the effort. Here are five reasons budgeting is important in business.

1. It Ensures Resource Availability

At its core, budgeting’s primary function is to ensure an organization has enough resources to meet its goals. By planning financials in advance, you can determine which teams and initiatives require more resources and areas where you can cut back.

If, for instance, your team needs to hire an additional employee to scale efforts, budgeting for that in advance can allow you to plan other spending.

2. It Can Help Set and Report on Internal Goals

Budgeting for an upcoming period isn’t just about allocating spend; it’s also about determining how much revenue is needed to reach company goals.

You can use budgeting to set company-wide and team financial goals that align with them. This is especially prominent when using activity-based budgeting, but it’s beneficial no matter which type you use.

Financial goals should be attainable enough that you count on them to inform the rest of your budget allocations. Your goals inform the expenses needed to reach them and vice versa.

You can also use budgeting to update employees on progress and revisit the next period’s goals. For instance, if your company aimed to gain 10,000 new users this past year but fell short by 4,000, what could you have done differently? Does the initiative require fund redistribution? What resources could have propelled progress?

Tracking progress, or lack thereof, allows you to align your team and plan for growth in the next period.

3. It Helps Prioritize Projects

A by-product of the budgeting process is that it requires prioritizing projects and initiatives. When prioritizing, consider the potential return on investment for each project, how each aligns with your company’s values, and the extent they could impact broader financial goals.

The value proposition budgeting method forces you to determine and explain each line item's value to your organization, which can be useful for prioritizing tasks and larger initiatives.

4. It Can Lead to Financing Opportunities

If you work at a startup or are considering seeking outside investors, it’s important to have documented budgetary information. When deciding whether to fund a company, investors highly value its current, past, and predicted financial performance.

Providing documents for previous periods with budgeted and actual spend can show your ability to handle a company’s finances, allocate funds, and pivot when appropriate. Some investors may ask for your current budget to see your predicted performance and priorities based on it.

5. It Provides a Pivotable Plan

A budget is a financial roadmap for the upcoming period; if all goes according to plan, it shows how much should be earned and spent on specific items.

Yet, the business world is anything but predictable. Circumstances outside your control can impact your revenue or cause priorities to change at a moment’s notice.

Consider the onset of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in 2020. The economic impact of travel bans, lockdowns, and other safety precautions was far-reaching and unexpected. Executives were forced to quickly—yet thoughtfully—rework budgets to account for major losses and newfound safety concerns.

More than two years later, executives are rethinking their budgeting procedures to make it easier to pivot if needed. One shift noted by McKinsey is the turn toward zero-based budgeting to determine the minimum resources necessary to survive as a business—should the circumstances call for it.

A budget gives you a plan; maintaining an agile mindset enables you to pivot that plan and help lead your organization through turbulent times.