Small Businesses Spend Too Much Time Managing Expenses, Too Little Time Marketing

Most small business owners use multiple tools to run their businesses. In fact, 81% of small businesses use everything from apps to software, according to the 2014 Small Business Expense Management Survey from American Express OPEN and Intuit.

Automating expense management processors can help business owners and their employees save time and focus more on doing their jobs–proof that for any business, time is money. Nearly one-fifth, or 17%, of small businesses say they spend “too much time” managing their expenses, according to the report. Yet, 18% of small businesses do not rely on financial management software to track expenses.

AMEX’s financial services division and financial software maker Intuit joined forces to create a tool to help small business owners manage expenses, ReceiptMatch with Quickbooks. Launched last year, ReceiptMatch is a mobile app and Web-based service that helps small business owners reconcile receipts with their American Express Card statement on the go.

This newly added feature helps close the gap between the business card swipe and complete card transaction information being entered into QuickBooks. It marks the first time a business card will be integrated directly into QuickBooks. Moreover, as businesses rely on their business cards to make large ticket purchases, the integration will help make for a faster and easier accounting process, says AMEX and Intuit reps.

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The majority, 74%, of business owners surveyed noted that the time spent reconciling expenses keeps them from tackling more important business-related activities. Given the chance to cut the time spent managing their expenses, 35% of small businesses stated they would use the extra time to interact with customers and one third (33%) would market their business. On the other hand, more than a quarter (26%) would handle non-business related tasks.

Here are three other key findings from the survey:

1. Burning the midnight oil: Expense management is one component of a large and onerous process that business owners encounter daily. About 41% of small businesses say the biggest challenge to tracking business expenses is the nature of the time-intensive process.

2. Technology for most, but not for all: Adopting new technologies can be overbearing, but businesses do turn to software for their finances. More than three-quarters, or 77%, of small businesses use some kind of financial management software to track their business expenses.

3. Seeking counsel before taking the technology leap: Entrepreneurs seek assistance from professionals when deliberating over new financial technologies to adopt for their business. Three-quarters, 75%, of small business owners say they seek counsel before adopting a new financial technology of which 35% turn to accounting professionals and 20% look to their peers.