One thing in your business that should always be up for debate? Your budget.


The idea that money will be taken from anything you value feels threatening. If you really love your school’s art program, and the new budget cuts the program, it’s easy to get upset at the headline. 

But, from a business standpoint, budget cuts can mean two things: reducing funding across the board to cut expenses, or reallocating money toward more effective initiatives

If you’re cutting expenses for the viability of a business or community, budget cuts might be necessary. And it would shift the conversation to focus on the highest priorities.

But if you’re shifting money from one thing to another–as the case often is–there is more happening than simply cutting funds. 

What if the program’s budget was cut so your school could provide remote students at-home art supplies? Or, to help fund a new community art center? In these cases, budget cuts are great. 

And the same can be true for your business if you do it right. Here’s how: 

Your company needs a healthy pressure

Having a system in place where any initiative’s budget can be cut at any time puts a healthy pressure on how your business spends. 

Over the last few years at Trainual, we’ve hired new leaders and reorganized departments to accommodate our rapid growth. And with each change comes new suggestions for how we can operate more efficiently. 

We’ve set up new software tools, invested in new vendors, and allocated budget to things that we think will help us hit our goals. 

But, just because we spend money on something this month doesn’t give the green light to do the same next month. 

Without the possibility of cutting an initiative’s budget, unnecessary expenses slip through the cracks. So, each month, our Director of Finance and Head of People meet with each department to see what they want to start, stop, and continue. 

What new expenses are they lobbying to take on? Where can they cut spending? And who do they want to hire, to take on what? This constant communication keeps us from paying for unused software licenses and under-used vendors while allowing us to spend the money smarter. 

Frequently prioritizes your time

Back when I was consulting, I worked with a printing company that did everything from business cards to travel brochures. While auditing their roles and responsibilities, I saw that the owner was driving a van to deliver orders three times a week. 

This kind of thing is all too familiar for small businesses. With the company focusing on paying those already on payroll, it’s hard to justify adding someone even part-time. So, to save company money, the owner takes on extra responsibilities. 

But really, this costs more. 

Instead of spending what the work is worth, the owner spends two to three times that to get the job done on their salary. And simultaneously, they take up time that could be better spent on other tasks. 

For instance, if instead of driving around town, the business owner spent those eight hours prospecting, they might grow their business 20% this year. 

So, by cutting the budget, the entrepreneur shifts dollars toward a more efficient resource–like a courier service–and gives themself the capacity to fulfill other obligations–like growing the business. 

Specialize to create efficiency

As a company grows, each person naturally takes on more and more to fulfill the increased workload, even if some of the responsibilities are below their skill set or experience. 

And it’s expected they will eventually fall off their plate. But without a catalyst, like budget cuts, this re-delegation doesn’t always happen.

Cutting any initiative’s budget–like the deliveries above–forces roles and responsibilities to shift within the business. Ideally, from higher-wage employees to lower-wage employees. And in the process, frees up bandwidth for more specialized tasks. 

Take time before shifting the spend

Sometimes, you might realize you’re overfunding an initiative, but you don’t know where to reallocate the funds. In this case, don’t force a decision, just make the cut. 

Maybe you over-hired in one department, and someone isn’t performing as they should. Rather than immediately replacing that person, cut the department’s budget, and let them go. Then, wait to see what new needs emerge in the department. If it does, then you can always reallocate funds back. 

It’s possible that the rest of the team absorbs their responsibilities, and a completely different need arises. Putting the same dollars toward the new use is better than spending on someone that’s not working out. 

In all of these cases, budget cuts are great for business. It avoids over-funding, where profits are eaten up, losses build, and inefficiency creeps in.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.

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