Margins are generally tight for small businesses, and carefully managing your budget is crucial to the long-term fiscal health of your enterprise. Some owners may feel they can take shortcuts with their business budget, particularly if their company is established and has had at least moderate success. However, a budget is ultimately an invaluable tool to keep expenses in line and can serve as a schedule to guide an important business decision. Here are a few tips for strengthening your company’s budget.

1. Overestimate Business Expenses

It’s a general rule of life that things will typically cost more than you expect. In no area is this more true — and essential to staying afloat — than in running a business.

Overestimating costs — for supplies, payroll, and other expenses — will ultimately strengthen your financial buffer and more accurately prepare you for worst-case scenarios. This doesn’t mean your estimates should be wildly unrealistic, of course — just on the higher end of what seems plausible.

2. Consult With Others

Many small business owners seek to manage the day-to-day workflow and fiscal life of their business single-handedly. It’s important to share the load, however, particularly when it comes to budgeting. Employees are often valuable resources in understanding the day-to-day value of your business budget — they intimately know when sales are higher or lower, what products do well, and how frequently given supplies are used. Their input is invaluable in crafting your budget.

They aren’t the only ones with advice to give. Consulting with other business owners in your industry may offer insights into where costs can be cut and money saved. Ultimately, an accountant can also be a recurring resource when managing your budget.

3. Update Your Budget As Needed

A business budget is an important blueprint and serves as a guiding plan. But it’s crucial not to be inflexible. Circumstances can change, sometimes dramatically, and it’s vital to have the means to update your budget accordingly.

Low-performing sales items may need to be dropped. Supplies that quickly grow in cost may need to be substituted. Seeing your budget as a blueprint, but an elastic one will ultimately help you adapt to changing times and alter course as needed.

A thorough budget serves as the backbone of your business and allows you to track and promote fiscal stability over time. Don’t skimp on the details, and you’ll see the results in an improved bottom line.