Tracking mileage and expenses is one of the more tedious tasks for small business owners. Looking for a way to make it easier? Look no further....

Tracking mileage and expenses is one of the more tedious tasks for small business owners. Looking for a way to make it easier? Our content partner Nav.com has answers…

 

Tracking expenses can feel like a full-time job, especially if your business requires daily purchases or frequent travel expenditures. But failing to track or inaccurately track expenses can lead to a host of problems.

Without a clear view of costs, it becomes impossible to efficiently manage cash flow and prepare for the future. Further, valuable tax deductions are lost if you don’t accurately track expenses over the year.

Fortunately, the right tracking system can make a world of difference, and implementing one may be far simpler than it seems.

Whether you’re a sole proprietor or a business owner overseeing numerous employees, these tips can help you stay on top of mileage and other business expenses.

1. Separate your business and personal spending

The first step in accurate expense tracking is to limit your business spending to a specific business account. This means opening a business checking account and using it as the exclusive funding source for business purchases.

The same logic should be used when making purchases with a credit card — apply for and use a business card, not your personal credit card.

2. Use a designated checking account or credit card

In the past, business owners and consumers alike were often forced to keep meticulous logs in order to track spending. And while those logs are still an important piece of the puzzle, today’s online banking platforms often take away much of the manual labor.

In most cases, your online banking platform will provide you with all the pertinent info regarding transactions, including the amount, date, and the payee. Further, many banks and credit card companies allow online users to download an activity report, which can be used to further filter and record your expenses.

3. Log info regularly

Whatever method you choose to implement, regularity is the key to success. For some, particularly those who rely on manual entry methods, a daily log will prove to be the most efficient way to keep track of expenses.

Others, however, may find that a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly schedule is just as efficient. However, don’t wait too long. The longer the gap between spending and logging, the more likely you are to forget, lose, or omit vital information.

In your log, make sure to note the date, total amount, and nature of the purchase. Though these logs certainly don’t need to be super detailed, providing basic information will help you segment your expenses when it’s time to budget and provide documentation in the case of an audit.

4. Use an expense tracking app

While the good ol’ pen and paper combo, or even the note feature on a smartphone, can serve as an easy expense recording tool, there is certainly room for error. There are numerous apps that can help streamline and add integrity to the process, some of which even integrate with your accounting software.

As you review your app options, it’s a good idea to take note of what type of expenses you can track. For example, Expensify and TripLog both allow you to track mileage and business expenses in one place, but that’s not always the case.

In addition, it’s also important to take note of any limits that may be in place. Some apps are free for a single user but require payment for more than one user. Similarly, other apps limit the total amount of expenses, employees, or vehicles you can track.

5. Have a clear expense tracking and submission policy

If you’re responsible for reimbursing employees for their expenses, it’s essential that you create a clearly defined expense submission policy. This should include things like mileage rates, an outline of acceptable expenses, and submission deadlines (e.g., within 5 business days of the purchase).

Further, it’s important that you specify what documents should be included. At the very least, you’ll want employees to save receipts and record mileage, where applicable.

6. Set limits

In reality, limits fall into the expense policy, but the notion is important enough to merit its own section.

If you’re reimbursing employees, it’s important to explicitly state any limits or spending criteria that will dictate reimbursement. By doing so, you can set behavioral expectations (e.g., no elaborate lunches) and maintain control of your operating budget.

For instance, you may want to set limits on how much an employee can spend on meals, what type of airfare you’ll reimburse (e.g., first class vs business class), or maximum hotel stay expenses.

7. Know what’s deductible

Since taxes represent a primary reason to practice regular expense tracking, it’s helpful to know what type of expenses you can and can’t deduct.

In general, the IRS states that business owners can deduct any expense that is “both ordinary and necessary.” Of course, it can be hard to determine exactly what that means. If you’re unsure if a business expense is considered ordinary and necessary, your best bet is to consult the IRS small business deductions page as well as your accountant.  

As a business owner, tracking expenses can be a challenge, but doing so can make it easier to run your business and manage your finances. The tips above can help you create a strong process that can alleviate some of the pain points often associated with expense tracking.

 

This article originally appeared on Nav.com and was re-purposed with their permission.

 

For information about Opportunity Fund’s small business loans, please contact us at 866-299-8173 or loans@opportunityfund.org.  For questions about your existing loan or other customer service questions, please contact us at 866-299-8173 or sbhelp@opportunityfund.org.

Loans are subject to credit review. Additional documentation may be required for credit approval. Loans will be made or arranged pursuant to California Department of Corporations Finance Lenders License #6050609.

Opportunity Fund, the nation’s leading nonprofit small business lender, believes small dollar loans help hard-working entrepreneurs make lasting change in their own lives and build stronger communities by growing businesses and creating jobs. Opportunity Fund’s community of donors and investors is creating an inclusive financial system that empowers women, immigrant, and minority small business owners. Our strategy combines microloans for small business owners and New Markets Tax Credit investments in high-impact community infrastructure projects. Since 1994, Opportunity Fund has deployed more than $750 million and helped thousands of entrepreneurs invest in their families’ futures. The organization has committed to lending an additional $1.2 billion to small business owners across the country and investing $174 million in community real estate projects by 2023.

Visit us online at http://opportunityfundloan.org and follow us on Facebook and Twitter

Each month, we promoting affordable events that help small business owners run their businesses better. This is your monthly calendar for in-person events in California and virtual events you can join from anywhere. Here are the best upcoming events in May.

Each month, we promoting affordable events that help small business owners run their businesses better. This is your monthly calendar for in-person events in California and virtual events you can join from anywhere. Here are the best upcoming events in May.

Northern California/Sacramento

Running an Environmentally Sustainable Business
Date: Wed, May 8, 2019 | 8:30 AM – 10:00 AM PDT
Location: 455 Market Street, Suite 600. San Francisco, CA 94105  
Contact: sfomail@sba.gov | 415-744-6777
Organization: San Francisco SBA Entrepreneur Center
Fee: Free

Do you work in or own a small business and are pressed for time, but are looking to make a real-world difference on your business’s environmental impacts? This workshop is will cover common resource conservation issues such as supply chain management, reducing waste, green cleaning, water efficiency, and energy conservation.

A diverse panel of speakers include a utility expert, the Green Business Program Coordinator, an B Corp consultant, and a certified Green Business. They panelist will cover environmental best practices and resources available to help your business take the next step on you sustainability journey

Click here to register for this event.

Selling to the Government and Corporations: An Insider’s Guide
Date: Fri, May 10, 2019 | 8:30 AM – 12:00 PM PDT
Location: 455 Market Street, Suite 600. San Francisco, CA 94105  
Contact: sfomail@sba.gov | 415-744-6777
Organization: San Francisco SBA Entrepreneur Center
Fee: Free

Did you know that the federal government is the largest economy in the world, spending half a trillion dollars on goods & services each year, and the state of California ranks number five, just ahead of the UK & France!

The government purchases nearly EVERYTHING from office supplies to construction services to art instruction services, and everything in between. If your small business sells it, the government probably buys it. Plus, there are special considerations for businesses certified as small, minority-owned, woman-owned, veteran-owned and more. Learn how to make the government your next customer, or learn how to expand your current government customer base at this free workshop series hosted by the Norcal Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) and the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).

Click here to register for this event.

Disability Access For Small Businesses: A Panel Discussion On ADA/ABE
Date: Tuesday, May 7, 2019 | 1:00pm to 3:00pm PDT
Location: 2nd Floor Atrium, 1 South Van Ness Avenue. San Francisco
Contact: Jossiel Cruseta | 628-652-6397
Organization: SBDC Northern California
Fee: Free

In 2016, San Francisco passed the “Accessible Business Entrance” (ABE) ordinance, which requires existing buildings with a place of “public accommodation” to have all primary entrances accessible for people with disabilities.

In partnership with the Office of Small Business, California Commission on Disability Access, and Pacific ADA, the San Francisco Small Business Development Center will host a panel discussion for small business owners who want to learn about being compliant with federal, state, and local laws to reduce your risk of litigation.

Click here to register for this event.

 

Southern California/San Diego

Getting Started With Marketing Automation
Date: May 29, 2019 | 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM PDT
Location:  2075 Las Palmas Drive, Carlsbad CA
Contact: centerinfo@miracosta.edu | (760) 795-8740
Organization:  North San Diego SBDC
Fee: Free

Staying on top of emails to prospects and customers can be a full time job. Even if you have templates for outreach and replies, it still takes time to tweak your message and send out emails.

Marketing automation can take over some of that job for you, sending and replying to standard emails automatically so you don’t have to.

Join us for this workshop full of tips and tricks to getting started with marketing automation. Plus learn typical pitfalls to avoid, getting you off on the right foot and putting you a step ahead of your competition.

Click here to register for this event.

Patents, Trademarks and Copyright
Date: Wednesday, May 29, 2019 | 6:00 pm PDT – 8:00 pm PDT
Location: 1003 East Cooley Drive. Suite 109 Colton, CA
Contact: (909) 890-1242
Organization: Inland Empire Women’s Business Center
Fee: $20

Want to know how to protect your business’s intellectual property? This workshop will show you how! Discover what is considered the intellectual property of your business and the steps you need to take to protect it. You’ll learn the difference between a trademark and copyright; how patents can protect your business and more.

Click here to register for this event.

License and Permits for Small Businesses
Date: May 15, 2019 | 5:30 pm – 7:30 pm PDT
Location: 5121 Van Nuys Blvd., Suite 300A Sherman Oaks, CA
Contact: info@vedc.org | 818-907-9922
Organization: VEDC Women’s Business Center
Fee: Free

This class will help you learn about business structures and the required licenses and permits your business may need. You will also learn how to complete applications for various licenses and other legal documents for your business.

Click here to register for this event.

 

Virtual

Tips for Importing into the U.S.
Date: May 16, 2019 | 6:15 pm – 6:45 pm PDT
Location: Online—Webinar
Contact: Lora Nelson | lora.nelson@canyons.edu | (661) 362-5900
Organization: SBDC hosted by College of the Canyons
Fee: Free

Do you want to start or expand an import business? It’s important to follow all laws and regulations to avoid an import business nightmare.

The following will be covered:

  • Do I need an import license?
  • What are the necessary documents?
  • How to classify the merchandise
  • What is the Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS)?
  • How can a licensed customs broker help your business?
  • What is the role of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)?
  • Important tips about shipments
  • Duties, tariffs, and what’s next?

Click here to register for this event.

How to use Google Analytics in your E-commerce Business
Date: May 16, 2019 | 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm MDT
Location: Online—Webinar
Contact: Lora Nelson | lora.nelson@canyons.edu | (661) 362-5900
Organization: SBDC hosted by College of the Canyons
Fee: Free

Overview

Monitoring the important KPIs

How to build useful dashboards

Click here to register for this event.

Voice Matters: How to Unleash Your Presence as a Speaker to Grow Your Business
Date: Wednesday, May 29, 2019 | 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm PDT
Location: Online—Webinar
Contact: 530.926.6670
Organization: Jefferson Economic Development Institute
Fee: Free

Are you tired of having “hit or miss” experiences when speaking in public? Would you like to be fully present in your own body while deeply connected to the crowd? Would you like to awaken, energize and move them–to laughter, to tears, to action?

It’s not (just) what you say, it’s (also) how you say it. Charisma is no longer optional. Leaders need to be able to influence, motivate, inspire, connect with and emotionally move their audiences. In this interactive webinar, you will learn how to do more than communicate clearly and articulately. You will come away with powerful techniques to help you unleash your innate, unique charisma and to move people – to laughter, to tears or to action.

Click here to register for this event.

 

We’re looking for upcoming events to promote to small business owners like you. If you have an event you’d like to share with fellow business owners, contact us at sblending@opportunityfund.org.

For information about Opportunity Fund’s small business loans, please contact us at 866-299-8173 or loans@opportunityfund.org.  For questions about your existing loan or other customer service questions, please contact us at 866-299-8173 or sbhelp@opportunityfund.org.

Loans are subject to credit review. Additional documentation may be required for credit approval. We are an Equal Opportunity Lender. Loans will be made or arranged pursuant to California Department of Corporations Finance Lenders License #6050609.

Opportunity Fund is tackling economic inequality so that hard work and perseverance means a shot at getting ahead, not just struggling to get by. Our programs are supported by a community of donors and investors whose contributions help to fund small businesses and build stronger families and vibrant neighborhoods. Since 1994, the team has deployed $700 million and helped thousands of families invest in their own futures. Opportunity Fund has earned a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator, America’s largest independent charity evaluator, for our commitment to accountability and transparency.

Visit us online at opportunityfundloan.org and follow us on Facebook and Twitter

Opportunity Fund. Working Capital for Working People. opportunityfund.org