Getting Things Done On a Limited Budget

by Sharlyn Lauby on October 13, 2013

For many companies, it’s budget time.

Having a small (or non-existent) budget does not absolve us from getting stuff done. It’s time to look at these situations as opportunities not obstacles.

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One of my favorite “budget” stories happened years ago. I remember being a very unpopular person when I announced that the company holiday party would be held in January instead of December. Oh did the employees complain! I was called Ms. Scrooge and a few other names I tried to forget. At an all-employee meeting, I was asked about it.

I explained to employees that every month when we would reforecast revenue and expenses, the company always seemed to take a few dollars from the holiday party budget. Now multiply that times twelve. So to keep the company from chopping the party budget, I wanted to hold the event in January. All the money would be spent and the party budget didn’t end up getting slashed each month.

No one ever complained about the January holiday party again.

There are lots of different ways to accomplish things around a limited budget. One way is like the example above – changing the expectation of when the money is spent.

Another way to accomplish goals with limited funds is by using free tools. For instance, let’s say your management team would like a faster recruitment process but they don’t want to spend the money to advertise jobs in more places. This might be a great time to suggest using vendors that offer a free trial or the use of social media. It could also be an opportunity to suggest testing out a new or updated employee referral program.

If these very low cost or no cost options deliver, then you have some convincing data to include with a budget request.

Same goes for training and professional development. I’ve listened to many business pros complain that their company had no dollars for training. While I do believe organizations should budget for training, this is the time to check out new options like iTunesU and MOOCs. HR departments could do the research and distribute a list of free training opportunities to employees. Maybe even allow employees to take a MOOC during the workday.

Tired of some outdated policy from years ago? Put together the business case to eliminate the policy and redirect those funds in a different direction.

Getting your budget cut or an expense denied isn’t the end. In fact, it could be the beginning of new innovations, new ideas, and a new way of doing business.

Image courtesy of HR Bartender

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