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Entertainment Series: Start with a budget

The most important part of making a job profitable is the budget. Without a budget, you won't have a benchmark to measure your progress.

Budgeting is pretty straight forward, but you need to think through every step of what needs to happen and how much it may cost or how much it may earn. Everything from trailers to catering to tolls and tips need to be considered. Of course, there will be some 'miscellaneous' expenses, but do your best to group as many foreseen expenses and revenue streams as possible.

Once you've mapped out your budget categories you can start entering information into your template (QuickBooks and Excel are decent low cost options). Enter all the known expenses and revenues first. You'll probably be impressed by how much you already identified. Now, you'll need to estimate the rest. For line items like PAs or crew, you have a pretty good idea how many you'll need and how much you'll pay them. If you're going to be on the road and need estimate gas expenses, I suggest you use www.mapquest.com. They have a nifty feature that estimates fuel cost when you get directions. And, if you're really on a budget, there's an added feature that lets you avoid toll roads. There's a wealth of information on the internet that will help you estimate - use it, don't just guess.

Also - when making your budget, be sure not to lowball. Sure you want the gig, but underestimating is not appreciated by any client - no matter what industry. I'm a big fan of the worst case scenario budget - all your expenses are high and revenue is low. If you can still make a profit if the worst happens, you're sure to do well.

Here's a good article on tour budgeting - with an example.
http://www.halgalper.com/BIZ_TALK/touroutingpg2.htm

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