4 Reasons Your Company Can’t Rely on Manual Expense Reporting Methods

Manual expense reports are not only a thing of the past, but they are also not as reliable as the automated expense reporting alternatives available today. Here’s how to make expense reporting faster and easier.

Technology is changing the way everything is done, especially in the accounting world. Expense reports vary from company to company and leaves a lot up to the person reviewing the reports.

In the past, expense reporting has taken up valuable time from accountants’ schedules when they could be looking for tax breaks or write-offs. Manual expense reporting is not only a thing of the past, but it is also not as reliable as the automated expense reporting alternative. Here are four reasons why manual expense reports are inferior that will leave you wondering why anyone would do a manual expense report again.

Documents Can Be Lost

Going on a business trip and having to save each individual receipt becomes frustrating to say the least. Employees sometimes lose receipts and have to file other documents with each individual purchase that they are expensing. Losing the documents not only is a threat during the trip but also until the expense report is filed.

With an automated expense report program, losing documents is no longer a threat to filing an accurate expense reports. Shoeboxed has a smartphone app that allows you to take a picture of a receipt and have the important information extracted automatically. You can then export your receipts to an expense report or any popular accounting program to make bookkeeping quick and simple.

Policy Violations Can Be Vague

Not every company has the same policies as far as items that can be expensed on the company’s dime. Manual expense reports generally have to be reviewed on a case by case basis, which can lead to some ambiguous situations. Out of policy charges can cost a company thousands of dollars a quarter, and depending on the size of the company, can have a huge impact on their bottom line. Automated expense reporting programs send you a reminder and email when a policy violation has been committed. The system will keep employees accountable rather than having to have uncomfortable conversations with employees when expense reports are filed.

Human Error

Human error can never be completely eradicated when relying on manual expense reporting. Whether it is a typo or an employee not completely understanding the company expense policy, skewed reports will continue to happen. Employees frequently make copies of their receipts to submit with different documents, and some of these are filed multiple times accidentally. Automated expense reporting platforms eliminate duplicate receipts from being filed by alerting the reporter and flagging the receipt. This not only keeps employees accountable, but saves the company money.

Decreased Visibility

There is often no quick way for administrators to look at how employees are spending company money. It could take hours to manually review all the receipts and spreadsheets to find spending patterns. For larger companies, manual expense reporting makes it nearly impossible to analyze spending habits of more than a few employees.

With an automated system, the manager or head of a company can easily review how money is being spent. This also allows the manager to make decisions and change policies when loopholes are being used. Enforcing the rules of what can be expensed becomes much easier when going into a program rather than going through thousands of lines of data in an Excel file.

As anyone can see, manual expense reports are a thing of the past. While there will always be some manual aspects of expense reporting, moving to a digital system makes the process much quicker and easier for everyone.

Automated expense reporting will save money and time for employees while also making it easier to review employees’ habits when it comes to spending company funds. Put manual expense reporting to rest and save yourself some money!

JT Ripton is a business consultant and freelance business and marketing writer out of Tampa, FL. You can follow him on Twitter @JTRipton.

How Small Businesses Can Reduce Energy Consumption

There are a wide range of steps that small businesses can take to improve their energy efficiency, reduce consumption and save money. Here are some options in all prices ranges to help you get started today.

Small businesses can see a number of benefits by improving energy efficiency and reducing overall gas and electricity consumption. While the main and often most obvious incentive for reducing energy consumption is saving money, there are also a few other benefits that are less often considered.

The Benefits

Environmental

Some small business owners are conscious of the impact their company has on the environment, and so for them, this is a great benefit. Even for those who are less eco-inclined, having a low-impact business can bring with it other benefits. For example, green consumer communities are likely to favor your business over others – increasing your sales and revenue – and green businesses often get a lot of positive attention from the press, which creates free advertising and exposure opportunities, as well as boosting brand and reputation.

Funding and grants

Businesses who put effort into reducing their energy consumption and strive to be part of a low-carbon economy are sometimes entitled to certain grant and funding opportunities. From government grant schemes to green finance companies, there is a lot of potential.

Tax breaks

As well as the aforementioned funding opportunities, low impact and low consumption businesses are often incentivised by the government with reduced tax rates. This could apply to small businesses that only consume small amounts of electricity or gas, or businesses that have purchasing energy efficiency technology or invested in installing retrofits.

Money

Using less energy means you pay for less energy – effectively increasing your bottom line. Most businesses can reduce their energy bills by up to 15% by reducing consumption, which is money that you could invest elsewhere in the business.

The Changes

Businesses are often well aware of the benefits that come with lowering energy consumption, but many just don’t know how to start. There are a number of ways in which small businesses can adapt their day-to-day business operations to use less energy – ranging from simple changes to drastic modifications.

Simple Changes

These adjustments are very minor, and do not require to you spend any money. Of course, because they are such small modifications, the result in consumption will also be small – but every little bit helps.

Budget for energy: Awareness is key in improving your efficiency, so by including energy bills in your budget, you will be conscious of exactly how much it costs you each month. You will also be able to see when you’re spending too much, and monitor the benefits of reducing your consumption.

Lower the temperature: Did you know that lowering your thermostat by just one degree could reduce your energy bill by over $100? A one degree difference in temperature is not enough for you to really notice, so you will be saving without sacrificing comfort.

Time switches: Make sure that your heating works on a time switch, and set it to only come on in the hours that your business building is in use. This saves the building from being heated unnecessarily when no one is there to feel the benefit. To be extra thrifty, you can even set your heating to go off an hour or so before closing time to save even more energy.

Draught proofing: For businesses with external doors, such as shops on a main street, a huge amount of energy can be lost and wasted through those doors being permanently open. A simple way to combat this is to make a conscious effort to keep the door closed when no one is using it; you could even put a sign in the window to make customers aware.

Work culture: As mentioned before, awareness is key in energy saving, and it’s integral that you get your staff on board with energy efficiency and inject an energy efficiency culture into your workplace. You can start with simple things like putting signs next to light switches and plug sockets to remind staff to turn them off when not in use. You can also put your staff through energy efficiency training to ensure maximum levels of awareness at all times. You may also want to assign certain energy-saving roles to some of your staff, and make them accountable for consumption.

Medium Effort

If you’re willing to spend a reasonable amount of money to assist your energy efficiency ventures, consider the following tips:

Lights: Lighting typically accounts for 20% of all electricity used in commercial buildings – so there’s a big opportunity to save here. Exchange all of your light bulbs for low energy ones, and install motion sensors to ensure hallways, storeroom, restrooms, etc. are not being lit unnecessarily.

Standby savers: These devices plug into your wall sockets, and all your electrical equipment is powered through them. They minimise the energy that is leeched by vampire power, which is the energy used when equipment is on standby. The average PC and monitor will consume about $30 a year in standby electricity. This may not sound like much, but when you multiply it to cover an office with 50 computers (over $1500), or all the electrical equipment in your building – the money soon adds up.

Eco-equipment: Whether it’s just a coffee machine and toaster in your staff room, or a refrigerator and microwave, you can replace it all with energy efficient alternatives. Eco-appliances are specially designed to consume less energy than traditional alternative. While it may be a bit of an upfront cost, after a year or two you soon start to see savings.

Larger Investments

These are the energy efficiency measures that cost the most money upfront, but also bring the highest savings. It may be worth trying some of the simpler and cheaper cost cutting techniques first, and then investing savings made from those towards some of these more drastic measures.

Double glazing: If your business does not already have double glazed windows, then you could benefit hugely from having them installed. A cheaper alternative to this is secondary glazing, which is where a second pane of glass is fitted to your existing window. It is not as effective as proper double glazing, but can still help.

Draught proofing: For businesses with external doors, installing automatic doors could help to ensure that as little cold air from the outside gets in as possible. Also sealing any holes there may be between the inside of your offie and the outside world – such as broken seal on doors and windows, vents, letter boxes, etc. – can help to keep the heat inside, meaning you will have to spend less to keep the inside of your business environment a comfortable temperature.

Conclusion

There are a wide range of steps that small businesses can take to improve their energy efficiency, reduce consumption and save money. These options come in all prices ranges, so there really is no excuse not to start today. Reduce your energy consumption, boost your bottom line, and give your business the opportunity to benefit from all the other benefits that can come from adopting energy efficiency into your day-to-day operations.

Hannah Corbett is a copywriter with a particular enthusiasm for startup business and the energy industry. You can follow Hannah on Twitter to keep up to date with all the latest in the small business world. Or, for more help lowering your business energy consumption, visit Make It Cheaper.

Three Surefire Ways to Gain Funding For Your Business

At some point, you will probably need to gain funding for your business. Here are three very effective ways to do just that, courtesy of Deborah Sweeney of MyCorporation.

Whether you’re in the beginning stages of starting your new business or your current business needs a little extra cash to start a new project, gaining extra money quickly is something every business will go through at some point or another. Luckily, there are a couple different ways to do just that!

Here are three very effective ways to go about earning money for your business:

Have a solid business plan.

The best way to gain third-party investors is to have a great business plan all set and ready to go. Not only are they great for showing potential investors how worthwhile investing in your company is, they help to keep you on track and focused for years to come.

Along with your business’s long-term goals, short-term goals, and plan of action, you should set aside an area in your business plan especially dedicated for investor eyes- something they can read and then easily understand the benefits of investing in your business. Even if you’re an already established business, having a business plan you update as you go with new goals and investor rewards is something valuable to have on deck.

Crowdfunding.

Crowdfunding has recently gained popularity in being a viable method for raising money for businesses. Though typically popular for artistic projects, it can also be used for raising money for the average small business.

The tricky thing about crowd funding is that it’s not black and white. Your investors get to pick how much they donate, though a lot of businesses utilize a rewards system to sway investors towards donating greater amounts of money. Additionally, you need to make sure your crowd funding is legal. Because it is still such a new way to raise money, the legal lines can sometimes blur. Crowdfunding can be a great, successful method for gaining investment, but be sure to do your homework and make sure everything is abiding by legal guidelines before you dive in head first and put all of your business’s eggs in the crowdfunding basket.

Bank Loans.

I think one of the most innovative ways to get funding for a business is actually the tried and true bank loan method.  When you loan with a bank, you often get low interest rates and you can bet that your backer is solid.  Additionally, you don’t have investors owning any portion of your business, if that’s something you want to avoid.  You do have to have a bit more of a proven history, but that will come up time and time again when owning a business, so it’s better to face that early on.

Bank loans can also be great because friends, family, and other third party investors often want a return on their investment other than simple interest.  This can cloud ownership and decision-making.  A pure loan is often a lot simpler, very reliable, and less confusing.

Deborah Sweeney is the CEO of MyCorporation.com. MyCorporation is a leader in online legal filing services for entrepreneurs and businesses, providing start-up bundles that include corporation and LLC formation, registered agent, DBA, and trademark & copyright filing services. MyCorporation does all the work, making the business formation and maintenance quick and painless, so business owners can focus on what they do best. Follow her on Google+ and on Twitter @mycorporation.