It’s a subject that makes a lot of people cringe: budgeting. Yet creating a budget and sticking to it is incredibly beneficial for reaching your goals, even ones that are a stretch.
But what if your budget isn’t what you want it to be? How can you do more with less? These were exactly the questions we faced at our company REfficient, where you can buy refurbished telecom and AV equipment, when we were starting out. Faced with limited resources, we decided to get creative in addressing our financial constraints. In the process, we learned that we could achieve our budgeting goals and create opportunity at the same time.
Refurbished electronics were purchased. Doors were upcycled into desks. Telecom crate wood became benches. Postcards made of seed paper were used for marketing. Business cards were printed on recycled paper and made two-thirds the normal size.
In most cases, our solutions cost much less than alternatives, but in all cases, they created a unique opportunity for marketing. Our innovations pushed back against traditional thinking—and people loved it. They remembered us for it and often became customers, either then or later.
Here’s how you can use creativity in your budgeting:
1. CONSIDER THE IDEAL END RESULT.
Is it achieving an eco-friendly business card that doesn’t cost more than a regular one? Be specific. Figuring out where you want to end up is half the battle.
2. BRAINSPROUT OPTIONS.
Brainstorming often leads people to come up with a couple ideas based on the past, versus being open to new possibilities. With brainsprouting, write down all possible options, even if they seem silly or unachievable. Ask yourself “what if” questions: What if budget wasn’t an issue? What would I do and why? Challenge yourself to come with 20 possible options.
3. THEN RESEARCH THE SOLUTIONS.
Search online. For example, Fiverr.com is a great resource, where you can get a world of things done for $5 USD. Talk to other people in similar situations and ask for recommendations. See if you can work out a win-win solution with other professionals, such as trading services.
4. EVALUATE BOTH THE COST AND OPPORTUNITY BEFORE SELECTING.
You may find that something may have a slightly higher cost, but can save you a ton of time or give you more marketing exposure. And whatever you choose, if it doesn’t work out, you can usually choose again.
If you limit your focus to cutting excessive costs, you might miss out on opportunities to increase revenue. As my serial entrepreneur dad once told me, you can only cut costs so far. The upside potential of your sales is your market potential, which is likely huge! So focus more on that.
You may even discover new opportunities. Our exercise of using surplus materials to create cool, functional furniture has led us into a new business, evereone, which sells upcycled products and reclaimed wood. In the end, creative budgeting can help you achieve your goals and even create new ones.