But I Don’t Have Budget For That?!

Defeat Starts Before You Do

In the 17 years I spent in conference rooms with the beige walls, squeaky chairs and everyone wondering what will be for lunch, one thing holds true. Those that say, “but I don’t have the budget for that!” will never GET the budget for that. Period. Much like everything else in life, budgets require a sales pitch, the better you sell the more your “internal revenue” grows. It’s not a popularity contest, it’s a sales contest.

Vision isn’t for seeing close up

If you were to look at your budget as all encompassing for the years spend then you already set yourself up for restrictions that will come to bite you around, let’s say September. Why? A few reasons: 1) anyone with children knows that unforeseen expenses are just part of the deal. I never planned for a sharpie on my counter top and walls; I mean what kind of person would do that? Answer…a child. Add a few more to the mix and you are constantly fighting your own battle to just stay afloat. 2) You are already doing too much, spread too thin, for what you have. If you were to take a hard look at your current spend, go ahead, it will tell you…I am tired of snacks…I want a steak, meaning you are spending too little on too much. A good exercise is to eliminate everything that doesn’t either tie back to the core of your business or at least have a significant return. Doing it because, well we always have done it this way, is a recipe for failure.

Gut Check

There are many projects you may come across that you simply cannot afford to cannibalize your budget in order to support. But every now and again, one strikes a chord and you believe this one will make a difference. When you encounter resistance, whatever you do, DO NOT say, “I’ll fund this myself then”. This is certain death of the project. It shows you are unwilling to compromise to those whom you wish to partner with and it will deplete your funds. Think of your dollars as soldiers, they need to go out and capture other soldiers and come back, not get shot. What you need to do is create a plan of what this project will look like, how it will impact the company as a whole and most importantly how it will impact your potential investors department and/or budget.

Look at the Shinny Object

With your plan in hand you want to walk into the budget meeting and say, “look at this idea!” Right? Wrong. The art of the sell is to actually, not sell. Think of a car salesman, right?! You instantly go, “ugh”. Why? Because you HATE the hard sell…well guess what. So do your fellow employees. No one wants to be sold which is why companies like CarMax sprung up to fill that gap; they let the consumer decide. Same goes for this project, but you need the shinny car to get their attention. Create a little offshoot budget to fund project ideas that can encompass the entire project in a quick trailer video, print campaign or the like. It is so much easier for people to understand your idea if they don’t have to use their imagination. This is why movie “trailers” are so important, they sow a visual seed of what you can expect. And they always put their best foot forward as you should too. So back to this meeting you are in, if you don’t have the shinny object…don’t talk about your idea.

The Sell

The sell doesn’t happen all at once; in fact you should be planting seeds with investors (budget peers) addressing their main concerns throughout the year. Learn what are they trying to accomplish and then understand if this project will help them accomplish that goal. It shouldn’t be a force feed, or I’ll have to revert back to the CarMax analogy again. Empathize with them, as their concerns are valid and real, even if they aren’t your concerns, and your project better address them or as in the Shark Tank they’ll simply say, “I’m Out”. So now, you have been seeding your peers for a while, asking questions, empathizing with them and even suggesting, “Boy if there is a way I can help, let me know”. Shows them you are willing to help them. Now you are ready to walk into that meeting and take control. You have your idea in hand. You know it exceeds your ability to fund it alone. You know their concerns, issues and agenda and you present your shinny object to show them that for a small part of their budget allocated to “concern A” here is how this project helps address that concern.
You see, large projects by nature impact more departments than you think and should be collaboratively funded. If you don’t, who will? If not now, when? Use your new found powers for good…and may the budget force be with you.