Expensify Playbook for US Based Small Businesses
This guide provides practical tips and recommendations for small businesses with under 100 employees to effectively use Expensify to improve spend visibility, facilitate employee reimbursements, and reduce the risk of fraudulent expenses.
- See our US-based VC-Backed Startups if you are more concerned with top-line revenue growth
- See our Playbook for Midsize Businesses if you are series B or beyond, or have more than 100 employees. [Coming soon…]
Who you are
As a small business owner, your main aim is to achieve success and grow your business. To achieve your goals, it is crucial that you make worthwhile investments in both your workforce and your business processes. This means providing your employees with the resources they need to generate revenue effectively, while also adopting measures to guarantee that expenses are compliant.
Step-by-step instructions for setting up Expensify
This playbook is built on best practices we’ve developed after processing expenses for tens of thousands of companies around the world. As such, use this playbook as your starting point, knowing that you can customize Expensify to suit your business needs. Every company is different, and your dedicated Setup Specialist is always one chat away with any questions you may have.
Step 1: Create your Expensify account
If you don’t already have one, go to Expensify.com and sign up for an account with your work email address. The account is free so don’t worry about the cost at this stage.
Step 2: Create a Collect Policy
There are three policy types, but for your small business needs we recommend the Collect Policy for the following reasons:
- The Collect plan is designed for organizations with a high volume of employee expense submissions
- The ease of use and mobile-first design of the Collect plan can increase employee adoption and participation, leading to better expense tracking and management.
- The plan integrates with a variety of tools, including accounting software and payroll systems, providing a seamless and integrated experience.
To create your Collect Policy:
- Go to Settings > Policies
- Select Group and click the button that says New Policy
- Click Select under Collect
The Collect Plan also gives you access to a dedicated Setup Specialist. You can find yours by looking at your policy’s #admins room in new.expensify.com, where you can chat with them and schedule an onboarding call to walk through any setup questions.. The Collect Plan bundled with the Expensify Card is only $5 per user per month (not taking into account cashback your earn) when you commit annually. That’s a 75% discount off theunbundled price point if you choose to use a different Corporate Card (or no) provider.
Step 3: Connect your accounting system
As a small business, it’s important to maintain proper spend management in order to ensure the success and stability of your organization. This requires paying close attention to your expenses, streamlining your financial processes, and making sure that your financial information is accurate, compliant, and transparent. Include best practices such as:
- Every purchase is categorized into the correct account in your chart of accounts
- Receipts are sent to the accounting package to ensure visibility across the organization and to auditors
- Every expense is accounted for and added to your accounting system on time for your monthly accounts reconciliation.
You do this by synchronizing Expensify and your accounting package as follows:
- Click Settings > Policies
- Navigate to the Connections tab
- Select your accounting system
- If you don’t see your accounting solution in the list of integrations we support, you can review an alternative solution in the Feature Deep Dives section below.
- Follow the prompts to connect your accounting package
- Detailed instructions on connecting your accounting package are linked on the Connections page
- Once connected, your categories will sync to Expensify
- Head to the Categories to view all Categories synced
- Use the green toggle associated to each category to disable Categories irrelevant to employee expenses to keep the list organized for employees when they code their expenses.
“Employees really appreciate how easy it is to use, and the fact that the reimbursement drops right into their bank account. Since most employees are submitting expenses from their phones, the ease of use of the app is critical.”.” Robyn Gresham, Senior Accounting Systems Manager at SunCommon
Step 4: Set up scheduled submit
For an efficient company, we recommend setting up Scheduled Submit on a Daily frequency:
- Click Settings > Policies
- From here, select your group collect policy
- Within your policy settings, select the Reports tab
- You’ll notice Scheduled Submit is located directly under Report Basics
- Choose Daily
Between Expensify’s SmartScan technology, automatic categorization, and DoubleCheck features, your employees shouldn’t need to do anything more than swipe their Expensify Card or take a photo of their receipt.
Scheduled Submit will ensure all expenses are submitted automatically for approval.
“We spent twice as much time and effort on expenses without getting nearly as accurate of results as with Expensify.” Kevin Valuska. AP/AR at Road Trippers
Step 5: Connect your business bank account (US only)
If you’re located in the US, you can utilize Expensify’s payment processing and reimbursement features.
Note: Before you begin, you’ll need the following to validate your business bank account:
- Your bank account credentials
- A form of ID (a driver’s license or passport)
- Your business tax ID number, your business’ address and your website URL
Let’s walk through the process of linking your business bank account:
- Go to Settings > Account, and select the Payments tab
- Select Add Verified Bank Account
- From here, we’ll ask you to use your online banking credentials to connect to your bank (Note that this must be the account owner or admin credentials)
- Alternatively, you can go the more manual route by selecting “Connect Manually”
- Once that’s done, we’ll collect all of the necessary information on your business, such as your legal business name and address
- We’ll then collect your personal information, and a photo ID to confirm your identity
You only need to do this once: you are fully set up for not only reimbursing expense reports, but issuing Expensify Cards, collecting customer invoice payments online (if applicable), as well as paying supplier bills online.
Step 6: Invite employees
Next, you’ll want to invite your employees to the company policy you created. You can invite employees under Settings > Policies > Policy Name > People. From there, you can add employees one of three ways:
- Unique Policy Link - Each policy has a unique policy invite link, which is located at the top of the People tab in your policy settings. Simply share that link with anyone you’d like to add to your policy.
- Manually - Enter employee email addresses manually by clicking the green Invite button in the People tab of your policy
- Google SSO - Or, if you have a Google Workspace configured, you can synchronize your policy’s people list to match your Google Workspace employee list.
In the next section, we’ll go through how to configure approval routing but it’s important to remember that you’ll always have these 3 options to utilize, specifically the unique policy link and manual invites as your team continues to grow.
Step 7: Set a Report Approver
Now, let’s set up who will be responsible for approving reports for your business:
- Go to Settings > Policies, and select the People tab.
- From there, select Submit & Approve - this will automatically add you as the approver, which ensures that any expenses that fall outside of the rules you set for your policy are brought to your attention. If you want to change this to someone else (eg. your accountant) simply invite them to the policy and set them as the approver
- Looking for more advanced approval workflows? Reach out to your Setup Specialist to understand the features available when upgrading to Expensify’s Control Plan.
Thanks to our Concierge Receipt audit technology, once you set up an approval workflow, most expenses will be audited automatically and won’t require manual review, however you can elect to manually approve expense reports too. Your time is valuable, so you should focus it on reviewing only the expenses that fall outside of your policy’s rules.
Step 8: Set up your corporate card and assign cards to employees
Expensify is optimized to work with corporate cards from all banks – or even better, use our own perfectly integrated Expensify Card. If you have an existing corporate card Expensify supports direct card feeds from most financial institutions. Setting up a corporate card feed will pull in the transactions from the connected cards on a daily basis. To set this up, do the following:
- Go to Settings > Domains > Company Cards > Select your bank
- If you don’t see your financial institution in the list of banks we support, you can review an alternative solution in the Feature Deep Dives section below
- Next, enter your bank account login credentials.
- To successfully connect to your bank, we’ll need the master admin (primary) account login credentials.
- Next, assign the corporate cards to your employees by selecting the employee’s email address and the corresponding card number from the two drop-down menus under the Assign a Card section
- Set a transaction start date (this is really important to avoid pulling in multiple outdated historical expenses that you don’t want employees to submit)
As mentioned above, we’ll be able to pull in transactions as they post (daily) and handle receipt matching for you and your employees. One benefit of the Expensify Card for your company, is being able to see transactions at the point of purchase which provides you with real time compliance. We even send users push notifications to SmartScan their receipt when it’s required and generate IRS compliant e-receipts as a backup wherever applicable.
If you don’t have a corporate card, use the Expensify Card (US only) Expensify provides a corporate card with the following features:
- 2% cashback on all card spend, no strings attached
- SmartLimits to control what each individual cardholder can spend
- A stable, unbreakable real-time connection (third-party bank feeds can run into connectivity issues)
- Receipt compliance - informing notifications (eg.add a receipt!) for users as soon as the card is swiped
- A 50% discount on the price of all Expensify plans
- Multiple discounts and savings on a host of partner tech suppliers
- Good Karma - 10% of all card interchange we earn goes directly to the Expensify.org Social Justice Community funds
The Expensify Card is recommended as the most efficient way to manage your company’s spending.
Here’s how to enable it:
- There are two ways you can apply for the Expensify Card
- Via your Inbox
- Via Domain Settings - Go to Settings > Domain > Company Cards > Enable Expensify Card
- Assign the cards to your employees
- Set SmartLimits:
- Employees - We recommend a low limit for most employees, roughly double the size of the maximum daily spend – such as $1000.
- Execs - We recommend a higher limit for executives, roughly 10x the limit of a non-executive employee (eg, $10,000).
Once the Expensify Cards have been assigned, each employee will be prompted to enter their mailing address so they can receive their physical card. In the meantime, a digital card will be ready to use immediately.
If you have an accounting system we directly integrate with, check out how we take automation a step further with Continuous Reconciliation. We’ll create an Expensify Card clearing and liability account for you. Each time settlement occurs, we’ll take the total amount of your purchases and create a journal entry that credits the settlement account and debits the liability account - saving you hours of manual reconciliation work at the end of your statement period.
Step 9: Set up Bill Pay and Invoicing
As a small business, managing bills and invoices can be a complex and time-consuming task. Whether you receive bills from vendors or need to invoice clients, it’s important to have a solution that makes the process simple, efficient, and cost-effective.
Here are some of the key benefits of using Expensify for bill payments and invoicing:
- Flexible payment options: Expensify allows you to pay your bills via ACH, credit card, or check, so you can choose the option that works best for you (US businesses only).
- Free, No Fees: The bill pay and invoicing features come included with every policy and workspace, so you won’t need to pay any additional fees.
- Integration with your business bank account: With your business bank account verified, you can easily link your finances to receive payment from customers when invoices are paid.
Let’s first chat through how Bill Pay works
- Have your vendors send their invoices to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- This email address comes with every account, so no need to activate it anywhere.
- Once the invoicehas been received, we’ll create a bill to pay for your review directly in Expensify
- At the top of the bill, you’ll notice a Pay button. Once you click that, you’ll see options including ACH, credit/debit card, along with mailing a physical check.
Similarly, you can send bills directly from Expensify as well.
- From the Reports tab, select the down arrow next to New Report and select Bill
- Next, enter the Supplier’s email address, the Merchant name, the total amount, and the date
- At this point, you can also upload an attachment to further validate the bill if necessary
- Click Submit, we’ll forward the newly created bill directly to your Supplier.
Reports, invoices, and bills are largely the same, in theory, just with different rules. As such, creating a customer invoice is just like creating an expense report and even a bill.
- From the Reports tab, select the down arrow next to New Report and select Invoice.
- Add all of the expenses/transactions tied to the Invoice
- Enter the recipient’s email address, a memo if needed, and a due date for when it needs to get paid, and click Send
You’ll notice it’s a slightly different flow from creating a Bill. Here, you are adding the transactions tied to the Invoice, and establishing a due date for when it needs to get paid. If you need to apply any markups, you can do so from your policy settings under the Invoices tab. Your customers can pay their invoice in Expensify via ACH, or Check, or Credit Card.
Step 10: Add a Payment card
Now that we’ve gone through all of the steps for setting up your account, let’s make it official so there are no interruptions in service as your employees begin using Expensify. We handle payments for our service via a paymentcard, and to add one:
- Go to Account > Settings > Payments
- Select Add Payment Card
- Enter your name, card number, postal code, expiration and CVV
- Click Accept Terms
You’re all set!
Congrats, you are all set up! If you need any assistance with anything mentioned above or would like to understand other features available in Expensify, reach out to your Setup Specialist directly in new.expensify.com. Don’t have one yet? Create a collect Policy, and we’ll automatically assign a dedicated Setup Specialist to you.