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How do you grow your business with informed decisions? Budget templates are a powerful tool to manage spending habits and take more control of your money. Our Budget Planner provides customizable resource slides that you can download and customize for any business need. It includes slides for quarterly and monthly budget tables, budget summaries, budget versus actual, budget breakdown, Sankey chart, plus many more.

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Quarterly budget table

Budgets are extremely important to make sure a business stays on track financially, whether it's an established company or a new startup. Budget plans are also highly valued by investors when they decide whether to fund a company, because it shows predicted performance and reveals priorities based on those predictions.

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Companies always draw up a budget before the start of any financial reporting period, usually a fiscal or calendar year. It helps make sure that all the decision-makers in an organization are aligned on priorities. A budget table is a great way to visualize spending over a reporting period. It will help make sure you're not overspending in any particular category. As of 2022, marketing budgets make up almost 10% of companies' overall budgets, on average.

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In this example, we see the different categories that make up a marketing budget. These will be unique to each company. First, identify various expenses and list them out by categories, such as social media, video advertising, or email marketing. Then, add any new marketing strategies to the list that you want to implement during the period. Assign a budget amount to all of these categories. (Slide 7)

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In a perfect world, a budget amount would be 100% accurate. But that's not usually the case, because budgets are forward-looking and static, while real life is full of unforeseen variables. A budget table measures the ideal financial numbers against the actual figures. The static budget amount represents the base case scenario that companies can use to plan expenses and revenues. As the financial period progresses, whether it's a month or a quarter, look at how the actual data compares with what was assumed in the forecast. Budget tables show the difference between the static, proposed budget and the actual figures to analyze the magnitude of those differences and explore why they happened. (Slide 8)

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Budget summary

Use a budget summary to quickly identify where the differences between the proposed and actual spending are greatest, and which spending categories should be flagged. For example, if the budget table shows that promotion expenses are over-budget, it will flag them visually. At the bottom, the percentage of the budget reached is shown. The best budgets are collaborative, take input from all managers across an organization, and most importantly, are flexible and open to adjustment. (Slide 22)

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Budget vs actual is a comparison between the budgeted or forecasted figures for a business and the actual figures that the business has achieved. This comparison is crucial for financial control, as it helps businesses identify where they are overspending or underspending, and make necessary adjustments.

For instance, if a company budgeted $10,000 for marketing but actually spent $15,000, the budget vs actual report would highlight this discrepancy. The company can then investigate why this overspend occurred and take steps to prevent it in the future.

It's important to note that a budget is not a rigid plan but a flexible tool. It should be reviewed and adjusted regularly to reflect changes in the business environment or company strategy.

Remember, the goal is not to match the budget exactly, but to use it as a guide to manage spending and drive business performance.

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Budget vs. actual

A waterfall chart helps understand the total impact of the difference between the budget and the actual spending, which is also known as variance analysis. It's a very useful way to present results in an orderly way and highlight deviations. That focus on the variance is what sets waterfall charts apart from the typical bar chart. The columns can be color-coded so users can easily distinguish priority or risk levels for each category. (Slide 23)

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Budget breakdown pie chart

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Budget can also be presented by categories. This example is useful for the marketing team to see which tasks have the highest budget and therefore the most important. Then, priorities can be re-shifted if necessary. (Slide 15)

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This alternative visualization shows a chart that provides a more detailed view. Not only does the pie chart indicate budget allocation, but each budget category is then broken down into a list of subtasks, shown on the right. (Slide 14)

Sankey breakdown chart

A Sankey diagram provides a bird's eye view of significant changes to a budget over time and across categories. It's a useful tool to calculate revenue and better plan your budget. Let's take a look at how Netflix might use it. The left side shows the total revenue across two categories, in this case streaming and DVD. Both of these flow into the total revenue. As it goes to the right, the chart divides that total revenue into the costs and the gross profit. Then, it divides each of those into specific revenue categories, such as licensed content revenue, operating profit, and more. (Slide 27)

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Netflix could then see how much money is needed in each category — on the right side — to generate a certain level of revenue — on the left side. Like say, how many subscribers it needs to generate enough revenue to earn an operating profit after all of its content, marketing, and technology expenses.

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Conclusion

When done right, budgeting is an iterative, repeatable process that's done monthly. Use this Budget Planner to review previous periods and improve budget accuracy in the future. If a company is just starting out, budget templates can be an effective path toward sustainable growth, so long as they are done on a consistent basis. Calculate existing revenue, scrutinize cash flow, communicate your funding clearly, and make better business decisions with these budgeting tools.

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