Ask the Right Questions to Get the Right Budget
When writing an annual budget, many people want to start by brainstorming the strategies and tactics they want to act out over the year. They ask themselves, “What do I want to do?” and they compare their expectations for the coming year to what they did the year before.
But there’s a better place to start budgeting. It solves many of the most challenging budgeting questions: how to align one department’s budget with the whole company’s goals, determining what things are important and what things have just always been done, creating the budget rationale and getting the most out of the budget you have.
Instead of asking yourself what it is you want to do, start with a more basic and more important question: why does my company exist?
If you don’t have an easy answer to this question - or if your initial answer is simply ’to make money’ - there are some other questions that might help you shape your answer:
- What nonmonetary value does your company provide?
- How do the products and services you provide serve the greater good?
- If your company vanished completely, what would be the world be missing?
On the surface, this answer doesn’t seem to have anything to do with budgeting. But knowing the core reason that your company exists - your company purpose - provides the best foundation for a good budget. Once you understand what is most important about your company, it becomes clearer how your department’s resources can support and deliver on that.
For example, at Savage, our purpose is to revolutionize Corporate America by helping companies deliver on their purpose. Whenever we’re establishing a budget, we have to ask - if we allot money to this strategy or tactic, will it help us deliver on our purpose?
Looking at a budget from the vantage point of purpose makes it much easier to determine if ideas are worth pursuing. It also makes it easier to defend your spending if you can tie your actions to helping the company deliver in the most important and valuable ways.
Need help uncovering the purpose for your company? We’ve got a purposeologist for that.
With a passion for helping others discover “why” and “what for,” Jackie Dryden leads companies to uncover and align with their purpose. But don’t be fooled. Her purpose development strategy packs a punch and will shake the core of your foundation. Serving as the Chief Purpose Architect at Savage, Jackie thrives on creating design and communications strategy to support corporate purpose. She is co-author of "Get Your Head Out of Your Bottom Line and Build Your Brand on Purpose" available at https://savagethinking.com.