Expenses cost UK small businesses 13 days a year

Over 60 per cent spend longer dealing with expenses than working on new business
Four out of five owners ‘concerned’ by how much employees are expensing

LONDON, UK, April 18th, 2011 – A survey of over 400 owners of small or medium sized businesses (SMBs) reveals the impact of filing, sorting and paying out expenses on the 1.2 million SMBs in the UK . According to the data, UK SMBs spend an average of 13 business days per year managing expenses, a significant drain on time and resource for growing companies. In fact, when compared with other vital business activities, a large percentage of SMB owners admit that their company spends more time managing expenses than they do on generating new business (63.2 per cent), thinking about the future of the business (54.1 per cent) or investigating new markets (48.8 per cent).

The survey reveals that – in addition to eating up valuable time for more important activities – the expense reporting process is also a cause of worry and concern for SMBs. Nearly four out of five (78.6 per cent) express concern about how much money employees are spending on expenses. Also, with the MPs expenses scandal fresh in the memory, one in four (27.3 per cent) voice concerns about staff expensing items they should not. In addition, a quarter (25.2 per cent) think that employees could be spending too much, and a third (31.7 per cent) are concerned that some of the expense claims made by employees maybe unnecessary, but they don’t have time to check.

Isabel Montesdeoca, Vice President at online expense management software provider Concur comments: “SMB owners find that they waste far too much time and energy managing the expenses process. And yet worries remain among SMBs that all those efforts still leave them lacking the proper controls and visibility. If the right technology is put in place, expenses can be straightforward and transparent, giving confidence to focus on more important parts of running a company.”

The survey also reveals one in four SMB owners (27.1 per cent) are unsure that all of the expense claims they pay out are justified, and one in six (16.3 per cent) SMBs admit to having no clear written policy for expenses in place.

Although expenses can be easily streamlined for cost efficiency with an automated system, only 39.8 per cent of SMBs currently use one. Given the importance of cash flow to smaller businesses, and the current climate for small business loans, the expense process is a clear stumbling block for many SMBs. Montesdeoca continues: “Not only is bad expense management a drain on resources, it’s also an area of company expenditure that can easily escalate out of control without a proper system in place.”

Automated expense management tools can make it easy for small businesses to submit and track expenses online or via mobile and convert paper receipts into digital records. Concur, a global leader in integrated travel and expense management, today launched the UK version of its SMB specific solution, Concur® Breeze which opens up this technology to even the smallest of companies – down to the one person organisation. Automated solutions like Concur’s enable employees to easily track expenses incurred on behalf of their company and automatically integrate credit card information allowing quick submission, approval and complete reimbursement. In addition, the solution provides visibility and control for SMB owners to keep track of the money flowing in and out of the business, and the reasons behind employee spend.

Loading next article