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Entries in start-ups (12)

Friday
Feb252011

Why budget forecasts are always wrong

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Has anyone ever produced a budget that turned out to be right?

I haven’t. Even where the bottom line ended up roughly where I forecast it should be, it got there via an entirely different route to the way my spreadsheet got there.

Take breeding horses. That’s something I do as a commercial hobby. It’s not meant to make a lot of money. It’s more of a lifestyle thing – but it’s not meant to lose money either.

I started my breeding program over a decade ago. It ticks over OK, but not in the way I planned. Yearling prices go up and down regardless of the quality of my pedigree planning. Prices have been entirely unpredictable.

No one forecast the equine flu epidemic, which quarantined my broodmares and meant I couldn’t breed anything that year.

Stallions go in and out of favour. It’s a good year when I’ve got offspring from the popular ones; not so good the other way around.

And that’s all before I have factored in the Australian dollar for overseas demand, paddock accidents and vet costs, plus the performance of past progeny –  just to mention a few other variables.

This all about business risk. You can’t eliminate it. You can only manage it, and you can only make robust forecasts if you constantly stress test your assumptions accordingly.

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Tuesday
Feb222011

Should you start a business?

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Type “business plan” into your search engine and you’ll find thousands of templates. People write lots of business plans. It's something you have to do if you are going to start a business. But before you do all that, there is one key question you have to answer: should I actually do this?

At a rough guess, probably two out of every three people I know who have started a business wish they hadn’t. That’s not necessarily because the business failed. A lot do, but a lot don’t. And a lot make very little money.

Nor is it because they didn’t have a good idea, or lacked commitment or energy. It is more that it just didn’t turn out to be as wonderful as they thought it was going to be. It’s a little like having a best-ever holiday. If you go back to the same place two years later expecting the same, chances are you’ll be disappointed.

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