Lisa McElhone

Lisa McElhone Shares 4 Steps to a Better Business Budget

Serial entrepreneur Lisa McElhone launched Lacquer Lounge, offering clients a fantastic luxury experience that keeps hygiene and cleanliness at the forefront of its priorities. Not only that, but it also helps educate clients about clean, ethical beauty practices that are about more than self-care and luxury. Lacquer Lounge is committed to its guest’s well-being and safety. Each member of the team is held to high standards, both when it comes to the overall guest experience and when it comes to their health and cleanliness.

After spending time in Miami, Lisa McElhone discovered that nail salons there looked very different than they did in her hometown of Philadelphia. While finding a place to get her nails done in Philadelphia could be difficult—especially finding a place where she could count on the cleanliness, and hygienic practices of the salon—salons in Miami focused heavily on cleanliness. Not only did that emphasize appeal to her self-proclaimed germaphobe heart, but Lisa also found that she loved the entire experience offered by the nail salons in her new city: cool music, a trendy atmosphere, and an amazing chance to interact with and meet new people. On returning to Philadelphia, she was more disappointed than ever by the offerings in her home city.

Out of that experience, Lacquer Lounge was born.

At Lacquer Lounge, Lisa McElhone has the perfect opportunity to use all of her creative energy and overall experience. From her early years, rooted in a study of dance at a local creative and performing arts school, Lisa has focused heavily on her artistic passions. After graduating from St. Joseph’s University with a degree in management information systems, Lisa went on to starting companies and getting involved in finance, telecommunications, consumer services, and mortgages. Through those positions, she gained immense business experience and a range of skills that she now brings to her efforts as the owner of the Lacquer Lounge.

Lisa McElhone is a big believer in the power of women in small business and is committed to education and investing in young women to help them achieve positions of business leadership and influence to lead the next generation.

Many small business owners believe that creating a budget is simply ensuring that they have enough money to make payroll. Small businesses often have substantial limitations on cash flow. There may be times when cash flows smoothly, followed by times when there’s little to nothing coming in. As a small business owner, you may feel that managing your cash flow is next to impossible.

In reality, however, you can live a healthy life—and keep up the normal flow of business—while keeping a finger on the pulse of your budget. Watching projections and possible shortages and preparing for them ahead of time can make it easier for you to understand your spending better. Not only that, but your business budget could also allow you to pinpoint precisely where you’re earning money, where you’re losing it, and what changes you need to make in your business. 

The Basics of Business Budgeting

As a business owner, you must control the cash flow of your business, rather than allowing it to control you. There are several strategies you can use to help improve your business budget and keep your business flowing more smoothly. 

Step One: Get an idea of where your money is coming from and prepare an income projection. What sources of revenue does your business have? Take a look at all of your revenue streams, how much you can anticipate from each one, and what that income looks like over time. 

It is particularly essential for businesses that rely heavily on seasonal sales revenue. Many of these businesses cannot survive the rest of the year without a proper budget—which means that you may need to predict your income during November, December, and January to help you plan, stay flush, and limit your expenses throughout the rest of the year to match your projected income. 

Step Two: Identify expenses. Your business has a wide range of expenses that you must carefully consider when planning your budget. Some expenses are fixed: business insurance, rent on your facility, and for example. Other expenses may be more negotiable: the employees you hire during specific periods or the inventory you keep in stock. Dropping or reducing variable expenses during difficult periods for your business can make it easier to maintain your budget and keep your business afloat even during less profitable seasons. Don’t forget to include:

  • Advertising
  • Depreciation
  • Insurance, including business insurance, liability insurance, auto insurance, and any other insurance your business must carry to protect you and your customers
  • Legal fees

Don’t forget to factor in your tax rate. Your accountant can help identify actual business tax rates, making it easier for you to determine what you will need to spend on taxes each quarter. 

Step Three: Put together a balance sheet. In addition to looking at income and expenditures, your balance sheet will cover important business assets. It will also display your current liabilities and existing capital, which can make it easier for you to determine your business’s financial needs at a glance. 

Step Four: Factor in leftover funds. Capital expenses and capital expenses can quickly take over. If you aren’t making those critical improvements to your business, you could be missing out on opportunities—or failing to deliver the quality your customers expect. On the other hand, if you try to take on too many capital improvements too quickly, it could cause you to over-spend, destroying your business budget, and leaving you struggling to keep up with those funds. 

Divide your small business budget into quarters, then break it down month by month. Put together your estimated expenses and income. Then, leave blank columns that you can use to fill in the actual numbers next to those estimates as the year progresses. 

Small Business Budgeting Tips

Bigger businesses typically consult with an accountant to prepare a budget. Smaller businesses, however, may have other, easier options. 

Try a bookkeeping software. For many small businesses, you can handle most of your budgeting requirements with standard software.

Use free budget worksheets and templates found online. These templates can make it easier for you to meet your financial goals and help you track those essential elements of your finances. 

Always review your budget with a CPA. While you can handle many of your budgeting needs yourself, having a CPA review your budget will let you know that it’s bulletproof and that you can run a business off of it. 

Budgets are critical for helping small business owners set goals, establish priorities, and develop spending caps, which can make it easier to make vital decisions related to your business. They also document where funding originates and help you get a better look at what the future revenue of your company might be. If you haven’t taken the time to put together a budget for your small business, now is the time to get started.

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