Straight talk in uncertain times

Current research shows small and midsized business owners are feeling a lot of uncertainty in this election year. But you can continue to build value whether the business cycle is up or down. Automating your business processes can help a lot, whichever way the wind blows.

The tale of the numbers

The research tells a consistent story linking the election to business owners’ nervousness. The Business Journals SMB Insights 2016 shows 71% of all SMB owners are worried about the upcoming election and its impact on business – 38% very concerned – 33% somewhat concerned. The numbers were similar in Bank of America’s 2016 Small Business Owner Report:


38% of small business owners have “some” concern over the presidential election impacting business; 29%  have “a lot” of concern.

Potential effects

An article published May 3 talked of the potential effects of all this uncertainty: “The contentious 2016 presidential race is generating anxiety among small business owners and could create problems for job creation and domestic hiring in the near future, according to a series of business sentiment trackers released this week.” US News also quoted Keri Gohman, the head of small business banking at Capital One, as saying: "Now is a critical time for small businesses as the country anticipates a change in leadership and new opportunities and challenges, such as market dynamics and new regulations and tax laws, which can have a significant impact on business results."


Current impact

But the uncertainty is already influencing small business owners’ behavior in ways that affect their spending and bottom line, according to a very recent survey of small business owners by the Wall Street Journal and Vistage Worldwide. In a June 22 article, the Journal said: “Roughly one-third of 715 small-business owners surveyed in June…said that uncertainty related to the November presidential election is having a negative impact on their business. Firms have reported delaying hiring, putting off investments or reducing new equipment orders.” The Journal said: “Overall, small-business confidence in June fell to its lowest level since November 2012, reversing all of the gains of the previous three months, according to the WSJ-Vistage Survey.”


Good times, bad times

For businesses of any size, certain things remain important whether confidence is high, or low. If a business can rein in costs, it preserves more of the money that comes in to enhance the bottom line. If employees can be more productive, the organization can do more things that add value. If leaders can see cash flow clearly and understand what’s happening, they can head off disasters and take advantage of opportunities. One move that helps across all these areas is automating the management of spending.


Doing it the hard way

Old fashioned, manual expense and invoice management takes a great deal of time. Late filing of reports, missing receipts or invoices and inaccurate data entry can obscure what’s going on with cash flow, a key driver of business success. (You can only manage it if you can see it.) And when employees are mired in chasing paper, they’re not doing what you hired them for, and they’re not very happy about it. Those spreadsheets may be “free,” but they’re costing you.


Automate – and graduate

But if you automate those key business functions online – travel and entertainment expenses and invoice management – you save money, time and aggravation. You’re not paying late fees or extra interest, you know where the money’s going as it’s being spent, and your employees are getting reimbursed quickly and focused on what matters most. In an up-cycle, that means you’re taking full advantage of the economy’s momentum. In a down-cycle, you’re conserving resources and preserving your safety margin. Automation really does give you an edge no matter what current events are doing to your level of uncertainty.


If your manual expense and invoice management processes are adding to your election-year anxiety, there is a remedy – and that remedy – online automation – is as close as your phone or keyboard. To learn how you can ride out the storms of uncertainty with more confidence, check out

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