MGT Accounting

Have Your Own Budget Shortfall? Here’s What to Do…

“The cold, harsh reality is that we have to balance the budget.” (Michael Bloomberg, former New York City Mayor)

Budget shortfalls are not uncommon across the public and private sectors, especially in these economically challenging times. A budget shortfall is a significant concern for any individual or organisation and should be corrected promptly.

To address the R15 billion shortfall in National Budget 2024, the South African government earlier this year did not cut its spending, but rather indirectly raised individual taxes by not adjusting personal tax brackets, rebates and credits for inflation, as well as proposing above-inflation increases in sin taxes.

Of course, these strategies are not available to South African individuals and businesses, but nevertheless, as Michael Bloomberg, former Mayor of New York City reminded us: “The cold, harsh reality is that we have to balance the budget.

This is because a budget shortfall – when financial obligations or liabilities exceed the amount of cash available – tends to impact negatively on business by, for example, necessitating spending cuts that could adversely affect critical operations, or by requiring an increase in debt to finance the shortfall.

On the other hand, maintaining a balanced budget ensures expenses do not exceed revenue, promoting financial stability and avoiding additional debt. By providing a clear demarcation of the available resources and financial capabilities, a balanced budget facilitates informed decisions, long-term planning and sustainable growth.

There are different types of budgets for various purposes, such as day-to-day operational budgets, cash flow budgets, long-term capital budgets, and master budgets combining various budget types for a comprehensive overview of the company’s overall financial health.

These budgets include elements such as revenue estimates; fixed, variable and one-time costs; cash flow projections; and profit projections. We are able to assist you with choosing the right approach for your business’ specific budgeting requirements.

Strategies for balancing your own business and personal budgets

If you are facing a budget shortfall, the tried and tested strategies below for balancing a budget may be helpful. While these approaches are business-orientated, each can be adapted to balance your personal budget too.

1. Understand your shortfall

Effective budget shortfall management begins with understanding the causes and consequences thereof. Do a thorough analysis before deciding which budget balancing strategies to implement.

For example, a shortfall can be temporary, perhaps the result of a specific set of circumstances, or it can be persistent, which might indicate poor financial management.  Your accountant will also be able to assist in this respect.

2. Spending cuts

This is the basic strategy for addressing budget shortfalls. However, cost-saving opportunities are not always easily found.

Some of the tactics to consider include, for example, cutting all non-essential expenses, across-the-board cuts, targeted cuts in specific areas, or even financial modelling or projections that calculate the combined impact of various approaches.

Not all cost-cutting measures are the same and it is more effective to prioritise cost cutting initiatives based on potential impact and feasibility. Prioritising high-impact initiatives can deliver quick wins, building momentum for further spending cuts.

3. Process optimisation

Unnecessary expenses in a business are often the result of inefficient processes, bottlenecks or redundancy. Eliminating these will not only streamline operations but will also cut waste and unnecessary expenses.

Process optimisation could involve re-organising workflows, automating processes, adopting lean management principles, or even outsourcing certain functions or utilising shared services.

4. Increase revenue

Depending on your business model, there are numerous strategies that may be considered to increase revenue, which could contribute to balancing the budget. These range from re-engaging your previous clients to upselling existing clients, to diversifying your products or services, bundling your offerings, or extending your geographic reach.

You might also consider partnering with other businesses or organisations, or embracing new technology, such as e-commerce, for generating additional income.

5. Short-term finance

Debt may also be a short-term solution but be sure to understand the immediate and long-term consequences, given your current and projected financial situation.

We can provide invaluable advice and assistance if you are considering this option.

6. Monitor, adjust and communicate

Your budgets should be monitored as an ongoing process, including regularly assessing their effectiveness, making necessary adjustments, and tracking progress.

Remember to involve your employees, suppliers and other stakeholders, who often have valuable insights into areas where budgets can be optimised. Communicate clearly about the financial situation and reasons for any budget adjustments, acknowledging the impact on the team and stakeholders, and providing opportunities for them to provide input and ideas to mitigate the impact on their activities.

Maintaining a balanced budget is crucial to financial stability and sustainable business growth. It empowers business owners and managers in understanding the company’s financial health, setting realistic goals, planning for contingencies, and capitalising on opportunities.

We can assist you to prepare a budget tailored specifically to your business, to monitor your team’s budget performance, and to make budget adjustments as required, setting your business up for both resilience and sustainable growth.

Disclaimer: The information provided herein should not be used or relied on as professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your professional adviser for specific and detailed advice.

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