Small-business owners and managers spend more than half of their week completing record keeping, managing expenses, and complying with federal regulations, a survey has found.

Opinion Research Corp. of Princeton, N.J. surveyed 303 owners or managers of businesses with annual revenues of $1 million to $25 million for MasterCard International.

The Purchase, N.Y.-based association said that the use of business cards could eliminate much of this paperwork, and save time and money.

However, there is an impediment. Often entrepreneurs contend that business cards are only effective for large corporations, said Steve Abrams, senior vice president, MasterCard commercial card products.

"Business cards are particularly useful for small-business owners and managers because they can help them streamline the company's paperwork, track and monitor most business expenses, and ease the burden of regulatory and tax reporting requirements," Mr. Abrams said.

Mr. Abrams said the survey suggested that a number of entrepreneurs do not know how to best use business cards to manage their time-consuming tasks more efficiently.

For example, in the survey, 22% of owners and managers said they use personal credit cards to pay for travel expenses, and 26% said they use personal cards to pay for business meals.

By contrast, 45% said they use a business card to pay for car rentals, hotel stays, and air fare, and 38% used it to pay for restaurant meals. In addition, 8% use a business card for office supplies, 4% for office equipment, and 1% for business services.

Two other noncard payment mechanisms are used routinely by small- business owners and managers, the survey found.

More than half - 54% - use personal checks for general business expenses, 44% for office equipment, 38% for office supplies, 18% for travel, and 15% for meals.

And 45% of respondents said they use vendor accounts to pay for office supplies, 43% said they used them for office equipment, and 23% said they used vouchers for business services.

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