Small businesses are the engine of the economy, generating 44% of economic activity, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration. Many small businesses have emerged from 2020 to welcome predictions of stronger economic growth in 2021-2022.
But the road ahead is still unclear, and it might seem challenging for a business to really know – and prepare for – what’s coming next. When it comes to getting back to business, we have some tips and strategies to help guide small business entrepreneurs as they look ahead.
Smart business growth strategies
Even in times of uncertainty, a small business can establish an action plan for business growth. That includes getting spend processes into shape for whatever the next phase of the economy brings. Let’s look at some of the key things you can do to get your SMB on firmer financial ground and continue contributing to the economy.
1. Set up an expense policy
No matter how small your business is, if you have employees, you probably need an expense policy. An expense policy is a clear, concise guide that outlines how the company manages employee expenses.
It should outline all the main expense types and specify what’s an acceptable company expense, and what isn’t. It also should address reimbursements and expectations around instances of fraud.
Setting up an expense policy doesn’t have to be a difficult task. Our free expense policy guide contains the steps you can follow to set up your own employee expense policy and get a handle on your employee expenses before spending happens.
2. Optimize your AP process
Business owners know that their cash flow is the lifeforce of their business. And a key component of healthy cash flow is having clear visibility into your invoicing process. Here are some ways you can fortify your AP process:
- You can start by taking a risk assessment to identify opportunities to improve your AP process.
- Use our free template to set up an invoice policy for your company.
- Consider moving from a manual AP process to an automated AP process:
- It ensures greater accuracy and reduced chances of fraud
- It puts all your data in one place
- It can offer clear data insights for better spend decision-making
3. Get smart about tracking and monitoring spending
Tracking multiple employees’ spending introduces many layers of complexity. You may already have a process for credit card reconciliation – squaring up monthly credit card transactions against receipts – but there are probably opportunities to improve on it to make it more efficient and accurate.
As you look ahead to the next economic phase, consider automating your process for tracking and monitoring spending. Doing so can help you:
- Speed up your verification process
- Catch mistakes and discrepancies quickly
- Spot unusual spending and signs of potential fraud
4. Employ technology to increase efficiency
Sometimes adding to the size of your staff is just not an option. Technology can help the people you do have work to more efficiently – and maybe even remove some tasks from their already-full plates.
This will free them up to work on things they enjoy and can add the most value for the business. A survey of SAP Concur customers found that companies that adopted a cloud-based technology to automate their expense management process increased their process efficiency by 42%, by reducing costs, errors, and risk.
Solutions for small business success
When it comes to optimizing your AP and expense management processes, there are several good resources for a small business to tap into. We know the important role entrepreneurs play in the economy, and offer solutions to meet the needs of small businesses as they carve a pathway to success. Hear what some of our customers are saying about the benefits of SAP Concur solutions:
“Concur actually makes us money when you consider the savings in time … Manual entry was especially difficult for employees traveling around the world … And with the Concur mobile solution, you virtually eliminate the problem of lost receipts. Our employees definitely appreciate the solution.” - Chris Maier, CFO of Encell Technology
"Implementing Concur Travel & Expense has saved time for both our employees and the back office. It makes our data more reliable; it gives our employees more access to all of their information such as expenses, historic data, etc. It makes our lives way easier and much more connected!" -Malaika Smith, The McKnight Foundation
“Prior to using SAP Concur solutions, our month-end process could be up to 15 days—or more, depending on what was going on that specific month. Once we had the SAP Concur platform in place and started using it efficiently, we reduced our close time to three days. And quite honestly, if we were in a pinch, we could probably close in a day. We wouldn’t be able to do that without SAP.” - Joe Lusby, Assistant Controller for Bishop-Wisecarver
Concur Expense lets you automate your spend management. That means you can easily capture your business expense data from multiple sources and compile it into one place. It provides clear, accurate data to help inform your spending decisions and creates a simpler expense reporting process for your team.
Through automation, Concur Invoice gives you greater visibility into your vendor spending, which can have a sizable impact on your cash flow. It also helps boost compliance, while providing critical data that you need to run your business.
Check out the Concur Invoice self-guided demo.
SAP Concur Community
As an entrepreneur, you can gain valuable guidance from networking and mentoring. So when you have questions about your spend management or AP process, look to the SAP Concur Community. It’s where you can connect with other small business entrepreneurs like you and tap into the knowledge of subject matter experts.
Running a successful business takes hard work and requires flexibility. Creating efficiency and greater accuracy around your finances can also give you greater control over – and insight into – your spending, which is critical to the financial health of your business as it grows and changes.