Startup Budget Template & Example

Startup Budget Template & Example

What is a startup budget and why is it important?

A startup budget is how you reinvest capital back into your company. These budgets represent your business plan: the more money you allot to part of your business, the more it can grow.

Your first startup budget can serve as a spending roadmap. Creating a budget can prevent you from running out of money, as the exercise helps you strategically spread out your startup spend.

Stop overspend before it happens.

Lola is the only platform that gives real-time visibility to both finance teams and budget owners.

How to create a startup budget

Startup budgeting can be boiled down to two steps: determining an operating budget and deciding how to spend it.

Determine your startup’s operating budget

First, calculate how much money is coming into the business.

Add up your forecasted sales budget, external funding, loans, and liquid assets for the year. Now you know how much money your startup has to work with.

Next, decide how much of that sum you want to spend, and how much you want to save. Small businesses typically set aside three to six months worth of expenses in cash reserves. If your startup has $20,000 in monthly expenses, that translates to between $60,000 and $120,000 in the bank.

Subtract how much you want to save from your forecasted earnings and assets to determine your operating budget. For example, if your company is on track to earn $1 million over the next year, and you want to save $120,000 in reserves, you have a $880,000 operating budget for the year.

Startup operating budget = Earnings - Reserves

Decide how to distribute the operating budget

Create categories for your business expenses and determine how to distribute your operating budget among them. Below are examples of popular business spend categories and benchmarks for how much small, agile startups typically spend on these categories. 

Recurring costs

Allot your budget for these recurring, fixed costs first, as they’re not optional expenses like the rest are.

Spending Category

Benchmark: Percentage of Operating Budget

Example: Spend Based on $10 Million Annual Operating Budget

Payroll and Benefits



Office Space

(Leasing or Mortgage)



Sources: Shoeboxed, Chron

Variable costs

Spread what’s left of your operating budget over the remaining categories. Link your budget directly to your startup’s goals as they change over time.

For example, let’s say that you want to run a SaaS startup (like Lola 😁). Before you open your business, you incur one-time startup expenses in the early stages while preparing to launch. Typical business startup costs include market research and borrowing costs.

Once your startup launches, you might prioritize product development in your first year of business, so you allocate more money to the engineering team for product research and design. The following year, you might focus on launching the product, so you increase the marketing team’s budget, which could allow them to run more ads on social media.

Here’s an example of popular business spend categories and how much start ups usually allocate to each.

Spending Category

Benchmark: Percentage of Operating Budget

Example: Spend Based on $10 Million Annual Operating Budget

Office Equipment and Supplies






Travel and Related Expenses






Sources: American Express, Salesforce, Shoeboxed, Entrepreneur

Startup budget template for agile companies

After you’ve determined your total costs and spending priorities, download our agile startup budget template for Microsoft Excel and Google Sheets. Use the template as a worksheet to create a budget for your startup. You can also use business budgeting software to help you. 

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Download Simple Budget Template

Here’s how to use the startup budget template:

  1. Decide what time period the budget will cover. We recommend creating an annual budget first, and then creating separate quarterly and monthly budgets to distribute the annual spend. In the first row of the template, write down the time period that the budget covers.
  2. In the second row, record your operating budgets for the time period in question and for the entire year.
  3. Next, fill out how much you plan on spending on recurring expenses. Add up the budget for the recurring expenses, then subtract that figure from the operating budget for the timeframe in question. This shows you how much you have left to allocate to variable expenses.
  4. Then, allocate variable expenses. Add up the total budget for variable expenses in the second to last row. You have completed your budget!
  5. When the time period for the budget passes, record the amount of money that was actually spent in each category using the “actual” column.
  6. Then use the final column to calculate the difference between the budgeted and actual spend. Use this difference to help your roll over monthly or quarterly budgets into the next one, or to create more accurate annual budgets.

After you’ve created your end-to-end spend budget, customize the agile startup budget template to break the categories down further to ensure that your tail-end spend is managed. Unmanaged minor expenses can add up to 20% of total spend. Without spend control, tail-end spend can have a negative impact on the budget. 

Spend management and accounting software is the most agile way to control and gain real-time visibility into your spend, especially when combined with virtual credit cards for each member of the team.

How can help you manage your startup budget

Lola is the only platform that gives real-time visibility to both finance teams and departments that manage their own budgets.

No matter your company’s size or growth stage, Lola offers powerfully simple payment tools, spend controls, and insights that empower your employees to spend as they need without your finance team losing control. Lola offers:

  • Budgets that can be created and assigned per person, category, or vendor
  • Real-time budget-to-actual reporting so budget owners always know where they stand
  • Powerful spending policies to manage expenses before they occur
  • Software-enabled startup credit cards—virtual and physical alike—that can be issued and adjusted immediately
  • A fully integrated travel management solution
  • User-friendly pricing plus a generous free tier

More startup templates to help manage your budget

Lola Comprehensive Budget Template

Lola Budget Template

Comprehensive Budget Template

Lola Expense Tracking Template

Lola Expense Tracker

Expense Tracking Template is the spend management solution that keeps you on budget.

About the Author: Rebecca Morrison
As VP of Finance and Operations, Rebecca Morrison oversees financial reporting and analysis, forecasting, and budget management for Previously, she was VP of Global Finance and Operations at Midaxo, and has held various roles in Finance and Operations at HubSpot and EMC.