One of the most popular articles we ever published was “The Top 10 Entrepreneurial Errors.” Over time we will use our blog to address some of these Top 10 problems with more texture. Given the time of year it is appropriate to discuss the NO BUDGET problem. As we have noted, over half the companies we are introduced to, have no budget or do not look at a budget to measure progress through the year. Budgets are too often thought of as constraining “admin stuff.”

The changing market environments should allow small business entrepreneurs to look at everything differently. Yes, this past 18 months has been challenging, but the upsides include an environment where:

  • Everyone is more receptive to change to improve their circumstance.
  • Competitors are weakened or no longer in business.
  • Receptivity to alliances for efficiency or to offer new products is wide open.
  • Creativity can create growth – yes growth if you get out of a defensive rut and open up to new ideas to be different.

A budget is a plan! Today’s questions and suggestions:

  1. Pick up the phone and call your best 10 customers and ask them what they need in 2010 and what you can supply to help them. This process will help you learn about your anticipated revenues in 2010 and be basic market research for your next product or service.
  2. Get your team together and brainstorm on how you can present your existing service/products differently. Can you bundle products for a discount. Can you align with another supplier to offer a joint new service/product? Will an introductory offer help?
  3. Map out your customer base in terms of location. Local, regional, national. Ask yourself: what must we do to expand our geography or gain greater penetration where we have been successful.
  4. Look carefully and critically at your 2009 advertising program. Ask how many leads or new prospects came from every dollar spent? Did you get any internet leads? If not, why?
  5. Ask what investment you could make to significantly improve your productivity or allow you to offer a new product/service? We know no one wants to risk cash now – but – many suppliers are offering incredible terms to get your business.

We suggest you start budgeting and planning for 2010 NOW! Start by thinking and asking the right questions.