The Future Budget
The budget for the future remains stable throughout good times and bad.
In most enterprises—and again not just in business —there is only one budget, and it is adjusted to the business cycle. In good times expenditures are increased across the board. In bad times expenditures are cut across the board. This, however, practically guarantees missing out on the future. The change leader’s first budget is an operating budget that shows operating and capital outlays to maintain the present business. That budget should always be approached with the question: “What is the minimum we need to spend to keep operations going?” And in poor times it should, indeed, be adjusted downward.
And then the change leader has a second, separate budget for the future. The future budget should be approached with the question: “What is the maximum funding these new activities require to produce optimal results.” That amount should be maintained in good times or bad — unless times are so catastrophic that maintaining expenditures threatens the survival of the enterprise.
ACTION POINT: Prepare a “development budget” that contains funds to exploit opportunities. Make sure the budget provides stability of funding in good times and bad.
“One prays for miracles but works for results,” Saint Augustine said.
There is an old saying that good intentions don’t move mountains, bulldozers do. In nonprofit management, the mission and the plan—if that is all there is —are the good intentions. Strategies are the bulldozers. They convert what you want to do into accomplishment. They are particularly important in nonprofit organizations. Strategies lead you to work for results. They convert what you want to do into accomplishment. They also tell you what you need to have by way of resources and people to get the results.
I was once opposed to the term “strategy.” I thought it smacked too much of the military. But I have slowly become a convert. That is because in many businesses and nonprofit organizations, planning is an intellectual exercise. You put it in a nicely bound volume on your shelf and leave it there. Everybody feels virtuous; we have done the planning. But until it becomes actual work, you have done nothing. Strategies, on the other hand, are action-focused. So I have reluctantly accepted the word because it’s clear that strategies are not something you hope for; strategies are something you work for.
ACTION POINT: Have a strategy in place.
“Your reputation is more important than your paycheck, and your integrity is worth more than your career.”
“Every time we launch a feature, people yell at us.”
“Be undeniably good. No marketing effort or social media buzzword can be a substitute for that.”
“Money is like gasoline during a road trip. You don’t want to run out of gas on your trip, but you’re not doing a tour of gas stations.”
“If you can’t feed a team with two pizzas, it’s too large.”
“Don’t worry about people stealing your design work. Worry about the day they stop.”
“Chase the vision, not the money, the money will end up following you.”
“The value of an idea lies in the using of it.”
“Make every detail perfect and limit the number of details to perfect.”
“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.”
“The most dangerous poison is the feeling of achievement. The antidote is to every evening think what can be done better tomorrow.”
“Always look for the fool in the deal. If you don’t find one, it’s you.”
“It’s not about ideas. It’s about making ideas happen.”
“There’s nothing wrong with staying small. You can do big things with a small team.”
“Don’t worry about failure; you only have to be right once.”
“Get five or six of your smartest friends in a room and ask them to rate your idea.”
“If there’s something you want to build, but the tech isn’t there yet, just find the closest possible way to make it happen.”
“Fail often so you can succeed sooner.”
“Nothing works better than just improving your product.”
“It’s not that we need new ideas, but we need to stop having old ideas.”
“We are currently not planning on conquering the world.”
“Get big quietly, so you don’t tip off potential competitors.”
“Don’t try to be original, just try to be good.”
“It’s hard to do a really good job on anything you don’t think about in the shower.”
“If you’re interested in the living heart of what you do, focus on building things rather than talking about them.”
“Entrepreneur is someone who has a vision for something and a want to create.”
“Best startups generally come from somebody needing to scratch an itch.”