The end of the year is the time to review your firm’s budget and make changes for 2020.
But if budgeting is not your bag, take heart. A budget template could make your life much easier. You can find excellent templates online. Best of all, many of them are free.
“A business budget template is an essential tool for business owners who want to take care of their bottom line,” writes Billie Anne Grigg for the financial services site Fundera. “Fortunately, you don’t have to spend a lot of money on fancy budgeting software. In fact, there are a number of great free small business budget templates available online.”
Your law firm budget should be a living document – meaning you don’t simply prepare it and file it away until next year. You review it regularly to monitor the performance of your practice and make adjustments as needed.
At a minimum, says Grigg, who is a QuickBooks advisor, your template should do the following:
- Track cash flow, expenses and revenue
- Prepare for regular business slow downs
- Designate the portions of your business that need capital most
- Plan for business investments and purchases
- Project the costs of running your business
5 Free Small Business Budget Templates
Here are five free budget templates that Grigg recommends:
- Capterra’s Free Small Business Budget Template. “The Capterra small business budget template has been a fan favorite since it was published in 2015. In this one simple Excel workbook, you can create your monthly budget, your annual budget, and then compare your actual numbers to your budgeted numbers. It also has a convenient overview sheet, which gives users access to their performance at a glance. Sound complicated? It’s really not. Capterra has included a detailed Instructions tab, which walks you through how to use the template step by step. Start here to save yourself hours of time and frustration. As a bonus, there are a number of resources linked on the Instructions tab, to help you create the perfect budget for your small business.”
- Seth David’s Small Business Budget Template. “You don’t even have to leave the Fundera Ledger website to find one of the best free small business budget templates This small business budget template uses your business’s chart of accounts as its basis, making it really easy to compare your actual numbers to your budgeted numbers. Seth’s instructions are clear, and his enthusiasm for the subject matter will have you actually looking forward to working on your budget.”
- PDFConverter.com 15 Best Budgets. “Rather than one bloated Excel workbook that tries to do everything, PDFConverter.com has compiled a library of 15 small business budget templates. These templates cover a wide range of budgeting needs, from a very basic overview of your business income and expenses to marketing budget templates. The startup budget template for would-be entrepreneurs still in the planning phase of their businesses is particularly helpful for newbie business owners. And the cash flow template is perfect for identifying and plugging cash flow leaks.”
- Annual Business Budget in Google Sheets. “Do you love all things Google? You can create a comprehensive budget for your small business right from Google Sheets. Simply navigate to your Sheets, and then click on Template Gallery. Our friends at Intuit QuickBooks have created an annual business budget you can use for free. To fully appreciate the power of the template, review the Summary tab after you have entered your budget figures. The tables and graphs on this tab will give you a quick visual representation of your income and expenses, making it easy to see where you stand at a glance.”
- Microsoft Office Template. “This beautiful template from Microsoft Office focuses exclusively on expenses, but it does that job extremely well. There are tabs for planned and actual expenses, a tab for automatically calculated variances between the two, and an expense analysis tab complete with pie charts.”
A final takeaway: use a budget for your practice, even if it’s scribbled on a yellow legal pad. It’s an essential step to ensure your firm’s success.