Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

How Budgeting Software Works

Small Business Budgeting Software

Budgeting a small business can be a bit more difficult than a personal budget, because income isn't as normalized, and several factors -- like the cost of goods and services --aren't always fixed. Because of this, small business budgeting software comes in a few different shapes and sizes, depending on which features you're most interested in. Some, like Quicken Home & Business, blend together your personal and business finances in one place so you can easily track both at the same time. Others, such as QuickBooks, PeachTree and Plan Guru, offer additional features like payroll services and payment processing to the mix. You'll need to pick what you need based on the size of your company and the features you're looking for.

The core of these programs will be familiar to most people who have balanced a budget. On top of the increased support for business-specific factors, small business software offers more forecasting methods to help you better plan your business' budget. For instance, you could look at potential profits over the course of 10 years using historical data, or you could use your own set of factors. Most have several types of models built into the software to ensure you can get a wide-ranging view of your company's potential and plan your budget accordingly.

Unlike personal software, you also typically get more options for generating reports of all types, giving you a better idea of where your money is going and why.

For do-it-yourself types in both personal and small business software, there is the first and most common budgeting tool: spreadsheets. Most spreadsheet programs come with access to simple budgeting templates, or they can be found (often for free) online. These work similar to the software programs you can purchase, but require you to manually enter or import the data from your bank -- and they don't come with any snazzy routines to help you predict or categorize you purchase types.

Next up, let's get personal.