How small businesses can get costs under control

With so much to think about, its hard to determine what the most significant issues for small businesses are.  While at the T10+ show at London Olympia late last year, it became clear that keeping operational costs under control and making the best use of limited time, are two of the biggest challenges facing small businesses.

Challenge number 1: time

Time is money, as they say and sadly there is a finite amount of it. Now I know this is not exactly ground breaking, but everyone I spoke to at T10+ felt that they had an ever growing number of things to do with too few employees to support them. As a business owner, you want your sales reps to sell, not use their time completing a spreadsheet for their expenses or other such paper-based admin.  Specifically around expenses, companies not only need a process that is as easy and effortless for employees and the finance team to use – but one which is also transparent to enable the wider management team to see a full view of cash flow.

How to address this concern:

Processes and technology that help manage time-hungry activities should be considered early and not languish at the bottom of the ‘to do’ list.  Spending the time to explore and realise these can reap benefits and allow business owners to spend the time growing their business, not just surviving.

For example, the process of managing expenses is often overlooked. Even in a small organisation, this can take a significant amount of time if an inefficient process is used.

Challenge number 2: costs

There are many operational costs in a business and expenses are arguably one of the most important costs. When sales may be low or companies small, owners are chasing business expenses that  form a significant part of the cost of completing a sale, there will be greater impact on profitability.

How to address this concern:

It’s wise to get full visibility of the true cost of a sale. For example, when hosting clients at an event the costs do not only include venue booking fees and food, but employee expenses to get to and from the event as well. Receipts are required by HMRC for expense claims – but if that receipt is left in a trouser pocket and disintegrates in the wash, or is simply lost, the owner not only finds it difficult to claim, the potential VAT that could have been reclaimed is lost to the business too.

Concur can help

Expense management systems, such as those offered by Concur, are often a good fit for smaller businesses. They can be quick and simple to roll out, scale as a business grows, have no up-front costs, calculate VAT reclaim automatically and save users time by allowing them to take a photo of a receipt on a smart phone and submit it on the go – why not test drive the solution today?

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