Executive Spotlight: How To Set Up A Proper Budget

Executive/businesswoman sets up a budget at work
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A critical responsibility of an executive is to set up a proper budget for their organization. Setting a proper budget usually involves setting financial goals, identifying expenses and revenue streams, and creating a budget that helps drive business success. So, what are some practical strategies for creating and managing a successful budget?

We recently asked our executives how they set up a proper budget.

Here are their responses...

Ana Smith, Talent Architect & Global Learning Strategist

As an executive, setting up a proper budget is a critical responsibility that requires careful planning, analysis, and monitoring. Here are some steps to consider when setting up a proper budget:

  1. Define your financial goals: Before setting up a budget, you need to define your financial goals and objectives. This will help you to prioritize your spending and identify areas where you need to cut costs.
  2. Estimate your revenue: Determine how much money your organization expects to generate in the upcoming period. This includes revenue from sales, investments, and other sources.
  3. Analyze your expenses: Identify all of the expenses that your organization will incur during the upcoming period. This includes fixed costs like rent and salaries, as well as variable costs like marketing and materials.
  4. Prioritize expenses: Once you have identified all of your expenses, prioritize them based on their importance to your organization's success. This will help you to allocate resources more effectively and avoid overspending.
  5. Allocate resources: After prioritizing your expenses, allocate resources to each category based on their importance. This will help you to ensure that you are spending money where it is needed most.
  6. Monitor and adjust: Once your budget is in place, it is important to monitor your actual expenses and revenue against your budgeted amounts. This will allow you to identify any discrepancies and make adjustments as necessary.

In summary, setting up a proper budget requires careful planning, analysis, and monitoring. By following these steps, you can ensure that your organization's financial resources are allocated effectively and efficiently.

Ana Smith helps people & organizations achieve their full talent potential by developing and co-creating people strategies and customized solutions, and turning them into impactful outcomes and collaborative relationships, using coaching as the "red thread."

Michael Willis, Sports Business Operations Executive

Budget, finance, business concept

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I love the time of the year when it’s time to work on the upcoming year’s budget at the NFL.

For me, the budget is a living and breathing document. You just don’t put in all the effort to file the budget in the filing cabinet once approved. More on that later.

I have a process that I follow every year. I keep a folder with all the notes and conversations that I had to build the budget. I keep various budget versions as I move to the final approved budget.

My budget process goes as follows:

1. Current Year Actual

The current year’s actual P&L numbers will be my basis for the upcoming budget cycle.

I go to each department head in our group and ask them if they have anything they want to buy or change that they didn’t do this season. Also, I will ask if they have any one-offs that won’t be done after the season ends.

2. Game and Replay Officials – (CBA) Collective Bargaining Agreement

Seventy-six percent of the Football Operations budget is covered by the Game and Replay Officials’ salaries and travel expenses agreed upon in a seven-year agreement between the NFL and the Officials’ Union.

So, I only have control of 24% of the Football Operations budget.

3. VP & Finance Review

This is when I sit with my boss and Finance to make any adjustments, then move to the approval of the budget.

4. VP & Commissioner Review

After Finance approves the budget, my boss sits with the NFL Commissioner on what the department wants to do in the upcoming year.

The Commissioner doesn't have the time to go through the entire budget page by page. So, I draw up a “one-page” report. This is a simple one-pager with one number at the top of the page, representing the current year’s “actual” spend. In the middle of the page are the budget changes for the upcoming year. At the bottom is the total budget for the upcoming year.

5. Finally, the Living and Breathing Part

Now that I have a final version budget in my hands, I will bring life to the budget by calendarizing the budget. That means I will spread the budget over twelve months, showing when to spend the money. That means I can discuss how we are pacing every month or quarterly, from budget to actual.

Michael Willis has 18+ years of experience working with accounting & sports organizations and has managed P&Ls of $10M - $125M+ with budgets of $3M-$50M+. He worked for the NFL for 22 1/2 years, mainly with the game officials working on the financial/accounting side of the business.

Lisa Perry, Global Marketing Executive

Marketing executive sets up the marketing budget

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As a brand marketing executive, a well-planned marketing budget is critical to strategically allocating resources, outlining a successful marketing strategy, maximizing return on investment (ROI), and effectively reaching your target audience. Creating a marketing budget may seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. Here are six steps to help you set up a marketing budget that aligns with your goals and drives tangible results:

1. Define Marketing Goals & Objectives: Before diving into budget planning, clearly define SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound) marketing goals and objectives. For example, what are you looking to do? Increase brand awareness or consideration, generate leads or conversion, drive loyalty or advocacy? Understanding your objectives will guide your budget allocation decisions and ensure your marketing efforts align with your business goals.

2. Conduct Analysis & Research: Analyze historical marketing data and conduct research that will provide valuable insights for budget planning. Evaluate the performance of past marketing campaigns, identify successful strategies, and pinpoint areas for improvement. Additionally, research market trends, customer behavior, and competitor activities to make informed budgetary decisions.

3. Develop a Marketing Plan: Develop a marketing plan with strategies and tactics aligning with your goals and objectives. Part of the planning includes researching the costs of the various marketing tactics. This is when you can determine which budget line item you want to include, how much money you want to allocate, and when you plan to spend it.

4. Estimate Marketing Costs: When submitting your marketing budget estimates for approval, it is crucial to accurately forecast how much you anticipate spending, as once approved, these estimates become your budget. Research industry benchmarks, obtain vendor quotes, and consult with your team to accurately estimate the costs involved.

5. Develop a Marketing Budget: Set a realistic marketing budget considering your financial resources, revenue projections, and the estimated costs of executing your marketing campaign. Strive for a balance between ambition and realism to ensure you have sufficient funds to support your activities throughout the budget period.

6. Monitor & Adjust: Regularly monitor and evaluate the performance of your marketing activities to ensure your budget is being utilized effectively. Track key performance indicators (KPIs) such as conversion rates, cost per lead, and customer acquisition. Identify areas that require adjustments or optimization. You can optimize your budget allocation for maximum impact by staying agile and responsive to data-driven insights.

Setting up a proper marketing budget requires careful planning, data analysis, and an understanding of your business goals. Then, you can create a budget that drives measurable results, strengthens your brand, and propels your business toward success.

Lisa Perry helps companies build leadership brands, driving loyal customers & delivering profitability. She does this through a process that builds brands consumers love. Her goal is to help companies develop, monetize, and grow their brands.

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