5 Best Expense Tracking Tools for Businesses

5 Best Expense Tracking Tools for Businesses

Software to help save your business time and money

Are you busy with day-to-day tasks and tend to procrastinate tracking expenses? Are you asking yourself, “why is it important to track expenses in a timely fashion?” Tracking expenses provides you with financial awareness and insight on spending habits, making your life easier come tax season. In addition, if you are audited by the IRS or the State, you will have proper records to verify your deductions on your return. 

Sorting through receipts is time consuming. Using software to track your expenses will SAVE YOU TIME AND MONEY, while allowing your business to operate more efficiently. There are numerous applications (apps) to help you easily track expenses and receipts so we have compiled a list of our top five favorites. We have seen these make a big difference in our clients lives!

1. Expensify

Price: Starting at $4.99/month

  • Having a vast array of features and extensive automation capabilities, Expensify is easily the best expense tracker in our opinion. From expense report management to tracking receipts, Expensify eliminates manual data entry. You simply take a picture of the receipt and details such as merchant, date and price, and they are automatically coded for faster reimbursement.
  • Mileage tracker is also included in the mix.
  • This app makes is easy for businesses to automatically review and approve expenses quickly.
Expensify software screenshot

2. Foreceipt

Price: Free

  • If you want to go paperless tracking receipts, Foreceipt is one of the best apps out there. The cloud-based receipt-capturing app (it uses Google Drive) enables you to securely capture each receipt for all business expenses accrued.
  • Foreceipt has features embedded into the platform, making it an efficient choice for businesses. For example, it allows you to establish budgeting categories, so you can track the types of expenses you or your employees are incurring. It also has a built-in exchange tracker, which allows you to input expenses in any currency.
forereciept software screenshot

3. QuickBooks

Price: Starting at $12/month

  • QuickBooks is a great tool to handle all your business’ finances. Once you connect your credit card account to QuickBooks, scan your receipts with your phone and load them into a mobile app for receipt management. QuickBooks will automatically match the receipts with the existing transaction.
  • QuickBooks also now has the capability to track mileage.
quickbooks software screenshot

4. Shoeboxed

Price: Starting at $29/month

  • Shoeboxed allows business travelers to rapidly capture and categorize business expenses. This app makes it easy for businesses to verify these expenses in real-time.
  • Shoeboxed’s powerful receipt tracking system makes it easy for your accountant to categorize your expenses which will help come tax season. Less time = less money.
  • Unlike many receipt-tracking apps, Shoeboxed enables users to capture business cards and transform them into an easily accessible digital contacts list.
shoeboxed software screenshot

5. Mint

Price: Free

  • Mint is a simple tool for smaller businesses to track where money is going.
  • It enables you to create budgets and goals within the app.
  • The app is user-friendly and gives you a nice snapshot of how much you spend on each expense category monthly or yearly. You can assess where you are spending your money and where you can possibly save money.
  • Another plus when using the Mint app is you are able to set up reminders for large purchases and bills.
mint software screenshot

Questions?

Running your business goes smoother and profits stay higher with the right expense tracking tool. Smith Schafer can help you choose the right tool for your business and guide you through the implementation.

2019 Tax Planning & Retirement Strategies for Businesses Presentation & FREE download

2019 Tax Planning & Retirement Strategies for Businesses Presentation & FREE download

Smith Schafer Manager, Kyle Spicer and HK Financial held a tax planning and retirement strategies for businesses event at the Golden Valley Country Club. Topics included:

  • Overview of updates after the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act
  • Minnesota’s adoption of Federal Tax Reform
  • Overview of the Qualified Business Income Deduction 
  • Planning considerations for capital purchases
  • Selecting a retirement plan that meets your goals as a business owner

Follow the steps below to receive your copy of the presentation to learn tax savings strategies to save money on your 2019 tax return and effective ways to add money into your retirement accounts.

Enter your email below to download your copy of the presentation.

Top 5 Common Succession Planning Mistakes

Top 5 Common Succession Planning Mistakes

Most business owners understand the time will come when they need to pass the torch onto a successor. Moving from work life to retirement life is a big step. For a business owner, this is especially true because of the emotional investment in the company and reliance on the proceeds from the transition to fund retirement. Although the awareness of transition is present, it may be difficult to initiate the process or to overcome common mistakes and pitfalls. Since most owners go through the succession planning process once in their life, it is essential to understand common issues made in the process. To help business owners understand common issues faced in succession planning, we have provided a comprehensive summary of the top five issues we see.

Top 5 Succession Planning Mistakes

In our experience, there are a number of mistakes often made in the planning process. We have provided a summary of the most common.

  1. Not Creating a Planning Timeline. It is common for many business owners to delay before starting the planning process. In one sense, this is a natural emotional response since these individuals have invested a significant part of their life in the business. However, the longer an owner waits, the more difficult it may be to develop an effective plan. Identifying goals, successor candidates, proper training and transition of responsibilities may take years of planning. For this reason, it is critical to start planning as early as reasonably possible. This will ensure there is adequate time needed to accommodate each step of the process.
  2. No Clear Benchmarks. Even when an owner has a commitment to the process, it is essential to clearly identify benchmarks for when certain things will happen. Without clear benchmarks it is impossible to keep the plan on track or to know if the steps executed have been effective. Sometimes the process of transitioning out of the company seems so complex owners may become paralyzed with fear. The more time spent breaking progress down into small, manageable chunks, the easier it will be for the transition to happen.
  3. Unable to Transfer Responsibility. Once a successor is identified, it is important to have a plan gradually transferring responsibility and decision making power to the new person. However, in our experience, sometimes owners only give nominal responsibility while not giving up actual control. While this is understandable on some level, it is also damaging to the succession process. It is necessary to give the successor the freedom and decision making power so they can become comfortable in the role. It is also necessary for employees so they see the actual transition occurring. Not authentically transferring responsibility sends a confusing message to employees and the successor.
  4. Secretive Planning. Oftentimes a business owner will have a plan created, but make no effort to communicate the plan. This is a critical mistake with serious ramifications. Openly discussing the succession plan with key family and staff members provides much needed time for the changes to “sink in.” Beyond this open discussion about the transition and succession steps may result in new ideas for the actual transition. Waiting too long to share the plan with others reduces the time available to optimize and enhance plan effectiveness.
  5. Retirement Fear. In some cases, although the business owner realizes the need to transition the business, there is a deep seated fear of retirement. Since the business has consumed their attention and time for many years, it is easy to understand why they may not want to leave. For this reason, it is essential to have a post transition plan. Identifying what to do during retirement (including travel, more family time and investment in charitable endeavors) will build excitement and reduce owner attachment to the company and resistance to the process.

Questions?

Succession planning is an essential and complex process requiring careful planning for the various considerations. If you are thinking about developing a succession plan for your company, then Smith Schafer wants to help. Click here to schedule a consultation.

10 Ways to Improve your Small Business Cash Flow

10 Ways to Improve your Small Business Cash Flow

One of the biggest challenges facing small businesses is maintaining adequate cash flow. Even in periods of growth, it is imperative to monitor your company’s cash inflows and outflows. If you are not monitoring your cash activity, you could be almost out of business and not even know it.  Here are 10 quick and easy tips to help improve your cash flows.

  1. Send invoices out immediately. Many small businesses have a regular billing routine, such as invoicing customers at the end of the month. Instead of waiting to invoice, bill right away when the job is completed.
  2. Ask for partial payment up front. Or rather than wait until a job is complete, consider asking for a percentage of the bill to be paid before the work starts. Or break the bill into thirds, asking for a third before work starts, a third while the project is ongoing, and a third upon completion.
  3. Change payment terms. Consider changing your payment terms for customers from 60 days to 30 days. In addition, you can offer a small discount to customers who pay their bills early and charge a penalty to those who pay late.
  4. Get serious about collections. Make it a regular practice to review your receivables and identify accounts that are late paying or overdue. Then make the phone call or send out the letter requesting payment. Some customers just need a simple reminder.
  5. Encourage use of payment cards. If you do not already, consider accepting credit card and debit card payments from your customers.  This allows you to potentially receive next-day payment for your sales and services.
  6. Use electronic payments to your vendors. Consider paying your vendors electronically. That way you can wait until the morning of the day a bill is due to make payment. If you utilize this method, ensure you are tracking when payments are due so you do not incur late fees.
  7. Use your business credit card. For a short-term cash flow solution, consider using your business credit card to make purchases or pay suppliers. Most cards offer a grace period of up to 21 days, and many cards also offer cash back features. It is important to pay these bills in full when they are due so you do not incur additional interest expense, which only makes your cash flow situation worse.
  8. Consider finance instead of buying. This may seem counter-intuitive, since you will end up spending more in the long run, but financing major purchases over a longer period of time will help maintain a cash stream for day-to-day operations.
  9. Analyze your cash flow. Most companies go through cyclical highs and lows. A cash flow analysis may help highlight the cycles in your business. This information may be used in many ways, such as timing your borrowing, arranging the ideal amount of staffing, and boosting your marketing efforts during lulls.
  10. Work with an accountantThe services of an accountant may serve as an investment rather than an expense. An accountant can review cash flow projections and results, provide insights into areas you may have overlooked, and help you anticipate and plan for cash flow problems.

 
These are just a few simple ways to improve your company’s cash flow. For more information on this topic or accounting and tax related questions you may have, contact a Smith Schafer professional.


Business Profitability Seminar + FREE Presentation download

Business Profitability Seminar + FREE Presentation download

Smith Schafer Principals, Gary Turnquist and John Edson teamed up to discuss how companies can improve profitability and create value. The event was hosted at the Golden Valley Golf & Country Club.

Seminar topics discussed included:

  • Revenue drivers
  • Management of expenses
  • Gross margin management
  • Key performance measures

Enter your email below to download your copy of the presentation.

10 Signs Your Business is Ready to Outsource Accounting Services

10 Signs Your Business is Ready to Outsource Accounting Services

Do you need help managing the daily routine?

Managing your business accounting needs can be time consuming, stressful and costly. Many growing businesses struggle to create a well-tuned accounting process, especially as certain systems and processes need to change to support increased activity.
 
Outsourcing this part of your business helps you gain the confidence and tools you need to be successful. Outsourced accounting provides you with:

  • A better understanding of your financial condition
  • More free time to focus on your business and craft
  • Expert guidance towards your financial goals

Do you need help managing the daily routine? Below are 10 questions to help you assess if your business is ready to outsource accounting functions:

1. Do you have adequate time to work on your craft or service?

For most business owners, accounting is not part of their core competency. You should be spending your valuable time growing your company and where your true passions lie.  

2. Do you need help with financial decisions?

The biggest benefit from outsourced accounting is access to a team of knowledgeable professionals. Maintaining compliance for your business is not only overwhelming, but it can be stressful. With ever changing rules and regulations, it is important you are relaying on someone who truly understands the financial part of your business.  

3. Do you need timely financials to make real-time decisions?

Better data allows for better decisions. Monthly financial statements can help you answer questions such as:

  • Do I have enough cash to make payroll?
  • Am I pricing my jobs right?
  • Can I afford to hire another employee? 

Financials give you a monthly snapshot of how your business is doing from a financial standpoint and if the business is able to keep up with costs.  

4. Do you lack a segregation of duties?

The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners reports “the most common fraudster is the trusted employee.” It takes an average of 18 months to identify fraud after the fact! Internal controls and segregation of duties can prevent employee theft.  

5. Is it a struggle to find an efficient, long-term, in-house accounting team?

Outsourced accounting eliminates the time and expense associated with recruiting, training and managing additional staff. You will not have to budget for the variable cost of an employee rather a fixed cost for the month. In addition, you will be mitigating risk for any Human Resource compliance issues.  

6. Do you need to improve and update your business processes?

An outside accounting team can work with you to increase operational efficiencies for your business. The team can design a system of automation and integration to deliver greater financial reporting. In addition, automation of billing and collection processes can save time, lower mistakes from human error and decrease risk of fraud by providing better transparency and workflows.  

7. Do you keep repeating the same mistakes?

If you are not using an experienced accounting professional, mistakes are likely to happen. There are numerous accounting mistakes that are difficult to track and identify.
Example of a Common Mistake We See – Using the invoicing function in QuickBooks, and duplicating revenue by entering the deposits from the bank directly, as well as using the “Un-deposited Funds” account. As a result, you may think your sales are high for the month but in reality sales are at breakeven.  

8. Do you want to keep your finances private and confidential?

An area often overlooked, is the security and privacy of sensitive information within the workplace. With an outsourced accounting department, internal employees are not in direct contact with business finances. Therefore, it limits them to discussing the business finances with anyone.  

9. Do you need to update your accounting software?

Most software systems are updated every 3-5 years. If you have not updated your software in years, you may be missing out on key features and reporting options. An outsourced accounting firm have the most updated systems, at a fraction of your cost. An outsourced accounting team can also provide training on how to use the technology.  

10. Do you want to grow your business?

As your business grows, so do the accounting needs. While invoicing, accounts payable and payroll often suffer first, improper or delayed accounting also stifles future growth by limiting the necessary data for strategic decisions. Business owners typically try to manage it themselves while balancing their many other duties or hire accounting staff to remedy the problem. However, this not only ties up additional resources, but it can be ineffective without the proper expertise and day-to-day guidance.

According to a client accounting services survey conducted by Bill.com, 80 percent of business owners said they have more time to focus on their business and 50 percent said they worry less about mistakes when they switched to outsourced account.

If you answered yes to a majority of the above questions, you should consider outsourcing your accounting department.

Smith Schafer is here to help. We offer scalable accounting services. Whether you need help managing the daily routine or assistance with more strategic decisions, such as software analysis and selection, our accounting professionals can give you back valuable time and resources so you can focus on growing your business. Contact us today to learn more about how we can take the burden of accounting off your plate.