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To survive and thrive, companies need to have a strong grasp of their cash flow. By understanding when, where and how money enters and exits a business, companies can more effectively manage spend, reduce error and plan for the future. This is especially true for small businesses, which often run lean with limited cash reserves.

So closely managing spend in real-time can be crucial to a company's survival. And as businesses grow, accounts payable processes only become more complex.

For example, Concur found that small businesses with less than 50 employees process an average of 217 invoices per month. It increased to 403 invoices per month at businesses with 51 to 500 employees and 1,369 invoices per month at businesses with 501 to 1,000 employees.

During National Small Business Week, we not only celebrate the accomplishments and contributions of small businesses everywhere, but also encourage conversations about fueling their long-term success.

Here are a few tips to help small businesses get a handle on effective AP management and plan for the future:

Track everything. To have a good handle on your finances, you need to know what's coming in and what's going out in real time. Tracking it all will help you head off mistakes and oversights. For example, Concur recently found that small businesses receive an average of six duplicate invoices totaling more than $12,000 each month. If you're not tracking these closely, it would be easy to make duplicate payments.

Could your organization survive that for long? A real-time view into cash flow can help you cut costs, manage spend more efficiently and get ahead in the future.

Pull your data together. Knowledge is power, but only if you can understand it. Data equips small businesses to make smart investments, cut costs and keep things running smoothly. However, if expense and AP data is spread across multiple sources and locations, such as Excel spreadsheets, handwritten files and online tools, the chances for outdated information and errors increase. By consolidating financial data in one location, you are more likely to have accurate and actionable insights.

Automate AP processes. A modern, cloud-based AP tool can help small businesses manage their finances more seamlessly, automating the entire AP process, from invoice receipt and processing to payment management and settlement.

Evaluate spend over time. By evaluating spend year over year, you can spot trends that impact the bottom line. For example, are certain vendor costs going up, staying the same or dropping? Is it time to renegotiate contracts or explore other services? This process can help uncover insights and save you money over time. Tools that give you a real-time view of cash flow and help you track and improve your performance over the long haul can help drive your growth now and in the future.

Christal Bemont
Christal Bemont is senior vice president and general manager of the Small, Midsized and Nationals business unit for Concur. She  is passionately committed to the idea that Concur should “be the best company to do business with, and that everything we do should be about simplicity.” She started her career early, helping her mother with several small business ventures, and this experience still informs her approach. She has held both sales and leadership positions since she joined Concur in 2004. Christal serves her community through supporting and volunteering at organizations such as the Anderson Animal Shelter, the local women’s shelter and Feed My Starving Children.
Last modified on Wednesday, 03 May 2017
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