By Alyssa Gregory

One of the toughest challenges faced by new (and sometimes established!) small business owners is figuring out their business finances. It can be difficult to accurately estimate start-up costs and ongoing expenses before you have a financial history to use as a basis for your forecasts. But there are a few free tools available that will help you make more accurate financial plans when you’re starting and managing your small business. Here are three to check out.

1. Quickbooks Startup Financial Planner

This financial planner uses information from the QuickBooks database as well as user-generated information (like projected licensing, registration fees, and other overlooked startup costs) to help users understand what their first year in business could look like. The step-by-step planner creates the following reports you can use in your business planning:

  • Downloadable financial analysis
  • Projected breakeven analysis
  • Business trend comparison
  • Licensing and permit recommendations

Go to the Quickbooks Startup Financial Planner.

2. SCORE Financial Projections Template

This is a downloadable Excel template that will help you calculate startup expenses, payroll costs, sales forecast, cash flow, income statement, balance sheet, breakeven analysis, financial ratios, cost of goods sold, amortization and depreciation for your small business.

The template has a companion guide (PDF) that will walk you through the process of using the template to get useful data for your business.

Go to the SCORE Financial Projections Template.

3. U.S. Bank Connect Budgeting Toolbox

This third tool is one I created for the U.S. Bank Connect small business website. The toolbox includes tips on estimating finances, budgeting, and reducing expenses in your small business. It also includes an Excel file with a worksheet to help you estimate your startup expenses, as well as a marketing expense tracking worksheet which is handy to have as your business gets off the ground.

Go to the U.S. Bank Budgeting Toolbox.

As you get started, keep in mind that it’s always better to overestimate what you will need to start and run a business and adjust as you go. A little extra financial padding is never a bad thing to have in your pocket!