Don’t Let Small Mistakes Add Up: Your Small Business Guide to Business Expenses

Spike Team
By Spike Team, Updated on December 20, 2022, 7 min read
small business expenses

We all know that running a business means more than just finding new customers and providing goods and services. There are also a lot of logistical tasks to perform, including managing business expenses. If you don’t keep control of your expenses, you could run out of money faster than expected or be unable to claim back the tax that’s due on them. But with some careful planning and budgeting, it’s possible to manage your small business expenses effectively without spending hours poring over receipts each month.


In this guide, we’ll look at how to set up your bookkeeping system so it’s easy for you to manage finances, how to avoid common mistakes when managing your business expenses, and top tips for how to manage them. By following these steps, you’ll see how easy it can be.



What are Business Expenses?

Business expenses are the costs that a business incurs in order to operate and generate income. These costs can include things like rent, salaries, utilities, and supplies. Business expenses are typically tax-deductible, which means that a business can subtract these expenses from its taxable income in order to reduce its tax liability. This can help a business save money and increase its profitability. Some common examples of business expenses include the cost of goods sold, marketing and advertising costs, and the cost of hiring employees.

Here are some potential business expenses:

  1. Rent or mortgage payments for a physical business location

  2. Utilities, such as electricity and water

  3. Insurance, including liability insurance and property insurance

  4. Salaries and wages for employees

  5. Taxes, including income tax, sales tax, and property tax

  6. Marketing and advertising costs

  7. Office supplies, such as paper, pens, and toner

  8. Technology and equipment, such as computers, printers, and software

  9. Travel and transportation expenses, such as airline tickets and fuel costs

  10. Professional fees, such as legal fees and accounting fees


Managing Your Business Expenses: First Steps

If you’re a small business owner, you probably know that keeping track of your business expenses is an important part of maintaining your company’s financial health and staying on top of tax payments to your local governments. But where do you start?

First, let's look at why keeping accurate records is so important:

  • It helps ensure that all income and deductions are reported correctly on tax returns and other forms.

  • It allows for faster and easier preparation when it comes time to file your taxes each year.

  • It reduces the likelihood of errors in calculating or reporting such figures (which can lead to costly mistakes if you are audited).

  • It saves you money by properly tracking for all of your expenses.


Essential Tools to Manage Expenses

small business expenses and planning


You’re going to need some software tools to manage your business expenses. You do not want to get stuck in the situation where you have no idea how much money was spent on snacks at your office until you have a hefty bill come in every month. In order to avoid this fate and make sure you’re able to track everything that goes out of your bank account, you should be using a few different types of small business software:

  • Accounting Software (for recording business revenue and expenses)

  • Communication System

Stay on top of your business expenses. Use a communication platform that will keep your on track.


How to Set Up Your Bookkeeping System

The most important thing about setting up a bookkeeping system is that you do it. It’s also important to make sure that you’re keeping track of all your expenses and income so that you can pay your taxes on time. If you don’t have any software for this, just use Excel or Google Sheets.

If you want something more sophisticated, there are many different apps out there that can help:

  1. QuickBooks Online

    This is probably the best option if you need more than just tracking finances and generating reports. You get bookkeeping software plus invoicing tools, employee time tracking capabilities, and integrations with other applications like MailChimp, Etsy, PayPal, Square, and Zapier (which allow users to build their own workflow automation apps).

  2. Wave Accounting

    This is another great option for small businesses looking for something simple but effective—Wave has very little setup required before users can start tracking their income and expenses in one place.

How to Avoid Common Mistakes When Managing Your Business Expenses

If you want to avoid making common mistakes, here are some tips:

  • Make sure you have the right tools

    Whether that means a good accounting software package or a notebook, keep track of your expenses in one place, so they’re easy to find when it comes time to claim them.

  • Know what you are claiming

    If there’s any doubt about whether something is an eligible expense, don’t claim it. Better yet, seek professional advice before making any decisions—you’ll be glad later on when the government doesn’t question your claims. When in doubt, count it as a personal expense.

  • Keep good records

    Records are especially important if someone else will be using your business credit card or if there’s a chance that an audit could take place at some point during the year (which statistically happens with about 10% of businesses every year). A simple spreadsheet where each item has its own line item can help make sure nothing slips through the cracks when tax time rolls around again next year!


Reduce Taxes by Investing in Technology

communication app for wealth management teams


Investing in new technology is one of the best small business ideas for 2023, and it can help your business reduce expenses in a number of ways. For example, new technology can help automate and streamline processes, which can reduce the need for labor and save time and money. New technology can also help improve efficiency and productivity, which can help your business reduce waste and use resources more effectively. Additionally, investing in technology can help your business access new markets and reach more customers, which can help increase sales and revenue.


Let’s look at a tool like Spike. Spike offers a range of features that can help streamline business operations, including email, collaboration, and video meetings. With Spike, businesses can integrate their email accounts and use the workspace to manage and organize their email communications. This can help reduce the time and effort required to manage email and make it easier to find and access important messages.


Spike also has collaboration features that allow team members to work together on tasks, projects, and documents. With real-time notifications, team members can stay up-to-date on the latest developments, and Spike’s built-in chat and messaging tools make it easy to communicate and share information.


Additionally, Spike has video conferencing capabilities, which can make it easier for teams to have meetings and discussions without needing to be in the same physical location. This can help improve collaboration and communication and reduce the need for in-person meetings. Overall, Spike’s features can help businesses improve their efficiency and productivity by bringing all the critical aspects of their operations, including email, collaboration, and video meetings, into one super-powered app.



Top Tips for Managing Business Expenses

  • Keep records of your business expenses

  • Scan all receipts into a cloud storage tool that you can easily share with your CPA

  • Keep your receipts for at least two years

  • Track mileage using an app 

How to Claim Business Expenses

If you run a small business, you’re probably acutely aware of the importance of claiming your expenses. It’s not just about saving money—it’s about keeping more money in your pocket. The trick is to ensure that those claims are legitimate and will pass muster with the tax man.


In order to claim business expenses, there are three things you need to know: what is a business expense? What is a deduction? What is a tax credit? And what are some common types of deductions?



Manage Your Business Expenses Quickly and Effectively

It’s common for small business owners to accidentally forget about their monthly expenses. This can lead to running out of cash, missing payments and financial problems down the road.


Fortunately, you can manage your business’s expenses quickly and effectively by keeping records of all your purchases. You need to keep accurate records of each expense so that you can claim it on your tax return. You could use a spreadsheet or a bookkeeping program like QuickBooks Online, which will help you categorize purchases and generate reports that summarize how much money has already been spent on different categories (e.g., office supplies). If none of these options feel right for you, consider hiring an accountant who will take care of this kind of thing for a fee — it’ll be worth it in the long run!



Wrap Up

If you’re a small business owner, you know how important it is to keep track of your expenses. It can be difficult to know where to begin when managing a business’s expenses, but there are many tools and tips available to help make the process easier for both beginners and experienced bookkeepers alike. The key is knowing what types of expenses are deductible from your income taxes and then keeping track of them throughout the year so that they’re ready at tax time!

Spike Team
Spike Team The Spike team posts about productivity, time management, and the future of email, messaging and collaboration.

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