9 Indispensable Budget Calculators for Small Businesses
There’s a lot of math involved in running a small business. What’s your break even number? Is it more cost effective to lease or buy equipment? Quick! What’s your liquidity ratio? Unless you’ve got an exceptional memory, you don’t have most of those calculations at your fingertips. And, unless you’re a CPA used to spending quality time with budget calculators, you probably weren’t hoping to do more math on the fly. Unfortunately, as a small business owner, you’re much more likely to be solving for x yourself than to have a cadre of financial specialists at whom you can despairingly fling your spreadsheets.
While chucking them out the nearest window might seem a tempting alternative, it’s essential to the health of your business to keep track of at least some of the major financial numbers, like cash flow, net income, and inventory, among others. There are some inevitable situations when knowing—or at least having easy access to—these numbers will make an enormous difference in your stress level and possibly even the business’s survival.
Certainly, you want to know what to expect when you apply for a loan. But keeping track of your key financials should also be a regular habit. According to Andrew J. Sherman, a partner in the M&A and Corporate Department at Jones Day, “all small companies will inevitably encounter financial or cash flow problems—it’s not an if but a when.” Having the important data handy when you run into trouble, big or small, will help you see what’s going on and make informed decisions.
So, you need to keep track of a bunch of convoluted equations. The good news? The Internet heard your cries of woe and got to work. The bad news? Business calculators have proliferated like virtual rabbits on a digital prairie—gross profit margin calculators, insurance calculators, a bevy of payroll options, and the ever-popular small business loan calculators. But too many options is just as unhelpful as too few.
To make your life a little simpler, we scoured the web for the best free business calculators and organized them by category. In the first installment of our results, we present the best small business budget calculators. Budget calculators not only help you keep track of your cash flow, analyze your profit, and determine debt to assets ratios, among other things; they often provide information you’ll need to have if you’re considering a small business loan.
Calculators to Measure Your Capital, Profit, and More
- Need to know what your small business is worth today? FitSmallBusiness has a quick-and-dirty calculator, while financial services company BB&T offers a more comprehensive analysis, including definitions of terms.
- Break even calculators will determine how many units your business needs to sell in order break even (and then make a profit, of course).
- If you need to get a fix on how money is moving through your business, BB&T has a calculator determine your cash flow.
- In order to determine whether to lease a piece of equipment or buy it, try SurePayroll’s calculator. Regions Bank has a simpler version.
- How much will you need to get through the next quarter? The next year? Is the bank likely to a loan request? Calculate your working capital to answer those questions.
- How much inventory should you have on hand? Try BB&T’s turnover calculator to help you plan.
- The financial aggregator site Bankrate has two useful profit calculators. Your gross profit margin can help determine pricing and sales goals. Calculating the operating profit percentage gives you a sense of the profitability the business more generally.
- Bankrate also offers two ratio analysis calculators: one determines your current asset/liability ratio and the other your debt to assets ratio. If you need more, BB&T offers liquidity, operating, and solvency ratio calculators.
It’s a good idea to look in on your numbers regularly, not only to avoid any nasty surprises but also to figure out what’s at work when things are going especially well. Knowing the critical numbers for your business and your industry means you can regularly check yours against major industry ratios. A regular peek at the financials you’ve determined are most important will also allow you to make sure you’re hitting your goals.
Once you’ve got the calculations you need, it might be time to revisit—and possibly revise—your business budget. Check out Inc.’s brief article on what your business budget should do, and if you need a template, you can download a free one from Quickbooks.