Written on June 6, 2011 at 9:06 am, by Concur
Before you even opened up your doors to your first customers, you probably researched locations, your market, wrote a business plan, found investors, and put in plenty of sweat equity. As your business took off, you made sure to hire the right employees, get the best insurance, and let your business plan evolve and develop. You know better than anyone that your work isn’t done, nor will it ever be… that’s probably why you started your business in the first place: you love it. And like small business owners everywhere, you want to be sure to protect it.
To keep track of all your spending, spreadsheets and templates can be a first defense. But they’re also a bit antiquated, cumbersome, and don’t provide you with the reporting and data your business can really use. How much are employees spending on dinner when they’re traveling? How much gets spent on mileage reimbursement? Can you identify spending trends and patterns based on employees or expense type?
By automating your expenses, you’ll gain that kind of insight, as well as peace of mind that your business has the right tools to not only help your business grow, but also protect it from something as insidious as expense fraud. And with an expense management solution like Concur Breeze that is easy to use and understand, employees are happy to have something that helps them save time entering data and gets them paid back fast.
Set your limits
When you place a limit on certain expense types, you’ll bring those expenses to the attention of managers and approvers. Common expense types that small businesses like to track closely: meals and entertainment, office supplies, and miscellaneous expenses. The ability to set limits is completely up to you and what makes sense to your business. Some of our customers set their limits to “$0” so that everything gets flagged and employees must write comments and attached all receipts related to those expenses.
While this is certainly one way to have visibility into how employees are spending, the “zero limit” might be seen as too extreme for some businesses. Employees may find it to be too “big brotherish” and find doing expenses a nuisance. Find the right balance for your company by checking in with employees about how things are working for them and also make sure your company is getting the kinds of reporting and information it needs.
Raising the (red) flag
Just as your business requires flexibility and the ability to turn on a dime, you have that same flexibility to control your expenses. When you first set up Concur Breeze, the setup wizard guides you through the process. While you can set up alerts on expenses when you first begin with the program, you can also go back and change your “reasonable limits” over time. For instance, if you first decide to flag hotel expenses that are over $200.00, you might change your mind to raise that amount to $300.00. Your settings can be adjusted at any time.
Hold the receipt
Keeping your business compliant with the IRS, and even with laws like the Sarbanes-Oaxley act can seem daunting. Making sure that every receipt is accounted for and recorded can feel like a full-time job to some. With Concur Breeze (and Concur Premier for larger companies), once that receipt is digitally “attached” to your expense report with your smartphone, you’ll never lose a receipt again.
At what monetary level employees need to attach receipts for certain amounts is something you decide. You can choose to require receipts for every purchase. The system defaults at $25, which for most small businesses works perfectly. But we’ve also talked with many customers who prefer to set that amount to $0. It all depends on what makes sense for you.
When your small business syncs Concur Breeze with a personal or company credit card, you’ll be able to ensure 100% accuracy. With credit cards, transactions are hard-coded in, meaning they can never be altered. It’s a one-two punch against fraud.
Finally, it goes without saying that one of the best checks and balances system for your small business is to make sure that whoever is submitting expenses is not also the same person approving those expenses. No matter how small your company, if there is only one person in accounting or payroll, be sure you have an outside resource who can make sure the expenses going through aren’t for someone’s utility bills, private school tuition, boys’ softball equipment—you get the picture.
We know your business means everything to you. Just as you would protect your family, you want to protect your business. With some safeguards in place and the right system at your fingertips, you can.
Find other ways to help protect your small business.