Why do business budgets fail and how to prevent it?

Apr 05, 2024

Budgeting for your business is not easy an easy task. Oftentimes, you won’t get it right on the first try. There will be times when your budgets fail. You might be questioning yourself on the reasons why.

Do business budgets fail because you haven’t mastered forecasting? Must you get everything right? Have you failed if you go over budget once? The truth is that budgets are not something you get right just once. It’s a learning process. 

Why should businesses have budgets in place?

Creating business budgets gives your business some financial stability. When you have budgets in place, you can track your results and compare them with your plans.

This helps you see if you are on the right track. When your business has reliable budgets in place, you can control your spending and see where you could improve financially.

Despite the looming question of why do business budgets fail, it is important to update your budgets and ensure that they don’t fail. You should adapt your business budgets along with your business.

Main reasons why budgets set by business fail

As a business owner, you might be wondering how to stay on track with your budget. The last thing you want after creating business budgets is for them to fail.

However, to do that you must first understand why do business budgets fail. Here are some reasons why small business budgets fail. 

1. Overestimating on sales

One of the reasons why do business budgets fail is because businesses are overly optimistic about sales. Your sales target might only take into consideration the previous year’s sales.

However, you have to combine performance with other factors such as market size and competition to ensure that you’re not short on cash flow with your budgets.

2. Setting unrealistic goals

Oftentimes the answer to the question of why do business budgets fail is because these budgets have unrealistic targets.

For example, your business could have an unrealistic expense reduction target, causing you to underestimate your expenses. It’s difficult to meet budgets with unrealistic goals. Be flexible and adjust your goals as you go.

3. Not updating or checking on the budget

Small business budgets should accommodate overlooked expenses. You might not get budgeting right on the first try, but when there are surprise expenses, you should update your budget to reflect these.

Creating business budgets requires you to regularly check your spending. When you don’t revisit and review your budget, you can’t ensure that it is updated.

4. Not creating budgets based on data

When you put too much emphasis on your yearly financial performance, your budgets might fail.

Creating business budgets should involve observing all the information that you have, including data from previous years as well as current market conditions. This way, you can have the full picture when allocating your budgets.

5. Non-compliance of budgets with stakeholders

Lack of communication and discussion between stakeholders can be one answer to why do business budgets fail. When creating business budgets, you need to take into account different departments.

It’s difficult to budget when you’re not aware of what the departments are spending. Conversely, the different departments in your business also need to be made aware of your budgets so that they don’t overspend.

6. Not tracking revenue and spending

Your planning will account for nothing if you don’t observe the current situation and compare your revenue and spending with the budget.

Not tracking the coming and going of your money could be one of the answers to the question of why do business budgets fail. You could go over the budget easily when you don’t have a tracking system in place.

7. Creating budgets once a year

Traditionally many businesses only create year-end budgets. However, creating business budgets once a year means that your budgets can quickly go obsolete.

Doing so does not take into account changes throughout the year, thus making it harder to achieve targets. Some targets can become unachievable due to changes that have happened that aren’t updated in the budget.

Ways to prevent budgets from failing for businesses

Despite the common reasons for wondering why do business budgets fail, there are ways that you can mitigate this. When budgeting doesn’t go your way, you can also take some steps to remedy this.

Having flexibility over your budget categories and a willingness to adjust as you go will prevent your business budgets from failing.

1. Consider rolling budgets

Rolling budgets involve budgeting regularly throughout the year based on current market conditions. You can take advantage of unforeseen circumstances when creating business budgets.

It ensures that your budgets reflect both internal and external factors. Rolling budgets may be difficult to do, but adapting your budgets along with your business will be beneficial in the long run.

2. Regularly tracking budgets and expenses

Track expenses like cards, vendor payouts, and reimbursements in real-time. Have your employees report expenses as they happen so that you have full visibility of your spending.

Volopay can help you and your employees report your expenses in just a few clicks and ensure that they are spending within limits set by their department managers. 

Learn more about How automated expense reporting can help your business.

3. Focusing budgets on data

You don’t have to constantly ask yourself why do business budgets fail when you use data from the previous spending to forecast future spending.

Creating business budgets based on data will help you gain a more accurate projection. This reduces the chances of unforeseen expenses that are unaccounted for in your budget. 

4. Using automated expense management software

Preventing small business budgets from failing can be done with the help of expense management software that automates your processes surrounding budgets and expenses.

It frees up your time from having to do manual administrative tasks, allowing you to direct more attention to forecasting and collaborating with multiple departments. Rolling budgets can also be easier to do.

How Volopay can help manage corporate budgets effectively

There are a lot of reasons why people constantly ask why do business budgets fail. Lack of visibility and flexibility are two of the many reasons why.

Oftentimes, what causes businesses to not have visibility and flexibility is because of traditional processes that take up a lot of their time with little return. Volopay can help fix this by automating your processes.

Offering card integration, expense management, and vendor payouts, Volopay allows you to process and manage all your spending on one centralized platform.

You can also appoint your department managers as approvers of their respective departments, allowing them to manage spending per department for better spending control.

Along with custom approval workflows, Volopay will automatically flag any expenses that violate company policy. This way, you can ensure that there are no budget leaks. 

Automate your processes and redirect your attention to updating your budgets. With Volopay, you can control your budget better and effectively.


Will a business fail if it does not meet its budget?

No. It is possible to over or underestimate your numbers when compared to your actual income and expenses. However, it happening once or twice doesn’t mean that your business has failed. It simply means that you have to adjust your budgets based on your current situation.

What is the most challenging part of budgeting for a business?

Planning ahead and forecasting can be one of the most challenging parts when creating business budgets. But this can be mitigated by observing your data, tracking your revenue and spending, as well as being flexible, and adjusting your budget as market conditions change.

What are two key factors that determine a budget?

Budgets are determined by income and expenses. When budgeting, you want to make sure that your expenses are not more than your income.

Get the right business budgeting processes in place with Volopay