Ok, every business needs a budget – your art or creative business is no different. A budget for your business is sometimes called a cash flow budget or cash flow projection. Typically a cash flow budget covers a 12 month period and is updated over time. The concept is simple – you itemize your anticipated expenses by month and subtract them from the funds which come into your art business from sources such sales or cash injections like loans.
If you have money left over at the end of the month you can apply these funds to future monthly expenses. If you have a deficit at the end of the month you will need to come up with additional funds or possibly defer some expenses to a later date. Budgeting for your art business is really no different than having a budget for your home.
Reasons you need a budget
- It will help you plan the growth of your art business and manage your finances
- You will be able to see when you will need funds from sales or cash injections to keep your business going
- If you are seeking financing such as a bank loan, a cash flow projection will be required of you
- With a cash flow budget you should be able to minimize financial “surprises”
- It will force you to look at where you funds are coming from and where you are spending these funds
Funds coming into your art business
- Funds can come into your business from several sources. Some examples of the ways funds come into your business are:
- Funds from sales made by cash, credit cards, checks or other electronic methods
- Funds from customers who owe your money – these are called accounts receivable
- Funds you put into the business – sometimes called an owners cash injection
- Funds from personal or bank loans
- Funds from investments or bank accounts in the form of interest or dividends
Funds going out of your art business
Cash goes out of your art business every time you make a purchase or spend money. Many of these expenses are easy to forecast such as monthly rent on your studio or insurance payments. Other expenses may occur less frequently or on a one time basis. Some examples of some of the ways cash goes out of your business are:
- Monthly rent, insurance and maintenance
- Phone and other utilities
- Sales, advertising and marketing expenses
- Salaries and employment taxes
- Materials and supplies used in creating your art
- Planned expenses such as booth rental in an art fair or new project
How to prepare a cash flow budget for your art business
If your business is very small and you don’t have a lot of financial transactions you might be able to get by with just a pencil and paper. As your art business grows you will probably need to prepare your cash flow projection on a computer using some type of spreadsheet software. Many accounting programs also have built features to help you prepare a cash flow budget – be sure to check this out.
If you are not sure how to put together a budget ask for help from your accountant or bookeeper. If you don’t have an accountant a friend or acquaintance may be able to help you. A finally a web search on Cash Flow Projections will give you lot of resources on understanding and preparing a cash flow projection.
Free Cash Flow Budget Template!
I have created a cash flow projection spreadsheet template to make your budgeting a whole lot easier. It can be used with popular spreadsheet software and will save you a lot of time in building your own. Feel free to modify to suit your needs. Downloaded it here: 12 Month Cash Flow Budget Template
The bottom line(s)
As your art business grows your need for cash flow projections and budgets will increase. Budgets are key to understanding how the financial end of your art business works. Budgets are also the tools that allow you to monitor your business’s financial activity and make corrective actions as needed. Take a bit of time and put together a budget for your business – not knowing how your business stands financially could be costly. Please share with your artist and creative friends – Good Luck!
Neil McKenzie is the author of The Artist’s Business and Marketing ToolBox – How to Start, Run and Market a Successful Arts or Creative Business available in softcover from Barnes & Noble and Amazon and as an eBook from iTunes, Amazon and Barnes & Noble. He has developed and teaches the course “Artrepreneurship” at the Center for Innovation at Metropolitan State University of Denver, and is also a visiting professor at University College at the University of Denver where he teaches “Marketing the Arts”.
Neil has over 30 years’ experience as a management consultant and marketing executive, working with some of the world’s top brands. Neil is a frequent lecturer to artists and arts organizations, a guest columnist for Colorado Biz Magazine, where he covers the creative sector of the economy, and the author of several articles for Americans for the Arts, a national arts organization. Follow Neil on Twitter: @neilmckenzphoto