5 ways to control your expenses as a growing SMB

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Kate Fletcher

June 5 ∙ 4 minutes read

A digital expense system isn’t often considered a top priority for growing businesses. But managing cost and prioritising investment for the best return is crucial for any growing business to scale. Establishing good processes and principles from the outset means you save bigger as your business grows.

Cloud-based expense management systems give you the visibility you need to monitor and control expenses. A lean and agile organisation needs mobile tools to record, track, approve and manage expenses, so employees and managers don’t waste unnecessary time on desk admin. Automated expenses reporting is also key, so you can see costs already incurred at a glance – and crucially, which business activities they’re supporting. 

You need a solution that can scale with you as your organisation grows or rebuilds. Getting people back out there and re-establishing your commercial teams will mean that people will start to incur more expenses. You need to be able to maintain control and compliance for internal and external purposes. 

Embed good practice into your growing organisation with these five ways to deliver ROI through positive expenses management control:

1. Facilitate timely expense submission 

Dusty envelopes of receipts in desk drawers pile up until one day you’re hit with a huge employee claim that you weren’t expecting. If you make it easy for staff to process receipts digitally as they receive them, they’re more likely to keep on top of expenses, so you always have a clear picture of the current expenses bill. Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology scrapes key information whether printed or handwritten from the receipt and not only populates the expense automatically, it then leverages AI capabilities to assign it to the relevant business purpose. This not only saves time for employees but provides more complete and accurate information for finance teams. 

2. Monitor and review spending in real-time

Don’t rely on automated expense reports that hit your inbox every month and are forgotten. You need to be able to identify trends and assess high-spending on-demand. High spending may be justified – if you have immediate access to information about the project or account it’s supporting or the circumstances that necessitated it. If it’s not justified, you can take corrective action before the spending occurs. 

3. Provide transparency across the business

For agile, growing businesses with lean teams, a culture of open and direct communication is really helpful in controlling expenses. Tell your employees how much expenses cost per month or year and relate it to business profits. Unnecessary expense costs could mean there’s less to go round when you award bonuses, so it’s in everyone’s interest to spend company money as if it were their own. 

4. Adopt a dynamic expenses policy 

If you can understand and evidence the return your employees are getting from expenses, you can apply any policy flexibly. For example, high-cost travel and accommodation that’s essential to secure a big account win is clearly justifiable. Make it easy for your revenue-earners to book and gain approval when the ROI stacks up. Applying a fixed spending limit can mean you miss valuable opportunities or undermine productivity for your sales and delivery teams.

5. Lead by example

Show by your everyday actions that you’re taking care of the company’s resources. That might mean choosing more modest hotels and restaurants, using public transport and going to the cash and carry for supplies. Employees notice small things: if you’re putting in a visible effort to keep costs down, it makes others believe it’s important. Don’t go too far and become miserly or obstructive though. 

If you deploy a single system for expense management that sits alongside business and revenue data from the start, you could save yourself a time-consuming implementation or migration project later on. SalesTrip is a purpose-built digital expense reporting application on the Salesforce platform. It’s a shrewd and cost-effective solution for businesses that are focused on ROI, growth and agility based on transparent expenses data visibility.

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Kate Fletcher