Allow room for a contingency plan - but be careful not to add too much fat. When it comes to running through the budget, you want to be clear and confident when questioned on any of the figures.
Know where cuts could be made and what their impact would be. Keep this in your back pocket, but be ready to wow with your forethought if asked.
Give a summary of the budget's headlines. But make sure you provide the detail for those who want it.
Show how accurate you were with last year's budget. This will build management's confidence in your proposals for the year ahead.
Recognise that you have to sell your budget to a buyer. If it is an individual, know what matters to them and their boss. Make sure the links between the budget and their objectives (especially the boss's) are clear.
A group of buyers is not homogeneous. Be clear on each individual's needs and priorities, and make sure you have covered them all in your presentation.
Get specific numbers and real expenditure quotes. Round numbers suggest a guestimate or lazy thinking. Options indicate rigorous preparation.
Test your budget proposal with your team first. Get them to ask all the difficult questions they can think of. They're likely to know where the skeletons are hidden and might give you the answers you need, as well as become valuable allies.
The Mind Gym, www.themindgym.com The organisation's latest book, The Mind Gym: Wake Your Mind Up, will be published in January.