Going paperless is a great way to reduce the overall cost, lower waste production, and decrease a company’s environmental carbon footprint.

Here, we will help you see the benefits of eliminating paper, the process of eliminating paper from your work environment, and answer common questions.

What are the benefits of eliminating paper for small business owners? 

Reducing paper usage can have numerous benefits for your business. Some of the most common advantages include the following:

1. Save money

Companies in the US spend over $120 billion a year on paper. At the same time, the average office worker uses 10,000 sheets of copy paper each year.

Your business can save on costs by eliminating paper use in the workplace. 

Not only do you reduce the cost of buying and using paper, but you also eliminate associated costs such as paper filing cabinets, envelopes, and stamps.

The most obvious alternative is to go digital by using a digital filing system

With a digital filing system, you can quickly share documents and increase their security. 

Someone with a calculator and checking graphs and finances. 

Calculating expenses with charts and calculator
Calculating expenses with charts and calculator

2. Increase efficiency

By eliminating paper processes from your workplace, you can streamline and automate items to make things run more smoothly and quickly. 

Some items that can be automated are:

  • tasks and projects
  • invoicing and payments
  • scheduling social media posts
  • backing up files
  • sending email reminders
  • screening potential employees
  • customer communication

With a more streamlined office space, you’ll have less visual clutter in your line of sight, which will help you stay on task and be more productive.

3. Reduce environmental impact

Creating and using paper has resulted in increased CO2, and when paper rots, methane is released, which is 25 times more toxic than CO2.

In addition to saving costs, you can reduce your environmental footprint by eliminating paper.

4. Eliminate paper clutter

Paper clutter results in a time-consuming process of searching through paper piles. Instead of that, try going digital.

Many paper forms can be viewed and filed digitally, such as paperless billing, signatures, and notes. 

A digital transformation of an office space will help you reduce the number of physical items you need to search through during your work day.

Imagine using a search bar to look for your files easily—instead of wading through piles of paper.

Steps to eliminate paper from your business

It’s to be paperless when your job is online, such as a virtual assistant or an online bookkeeping job.

To help you go paperless, here are the most common steps that companies can take:

Step 1. Invest in digital storage

The first step is to use or invest in a digital filing system. 

This filing system will be your new location for all your paper documents.

For more financial-based documents, try using Shoeboxed

Their app lets you quickly snap pictures of your receipts, business cards, and other financial paper documents. You can also export your expenses as a weekly or monthly spreadsheet for viewing or you can add your bookkeeper or accountant to your Shoeboxed account.

Step 2. Digitize your paper documents

Once you have a digital filing system, you can start digitizing your paper and documents. 

This process can be done using a document scanner to scan and import your documents into your digital system quickly.

If you want to avoid individually scanning your documents, especially your receipts, you can use Shoeboxed’s Magic Envelope

Instead of scanning your receipts one by one, you can stuff everything you want to scan into a pre-paid envelope which will be sent to Shoeboxed’s HQ in Durham, NC. 

After the Shoeboxed team has processed your documents, you’ll be able to view them in your account.

How to outsource scanning with the Magic Envelope

Step 3. Create an automation process

Automation can help you streamline your work and reduce the need for manual data entry or paper filing systems.

Consider automating tasks such as:

  • administrative tasks
  • invoicing
  • payments
  • customer communication
  • scheduling social media posts
  • manual data entry

Step 4. Print when necessary

It’s best to avoid printing when necessary, but there will be times when you have to print and send something such as:

  • licenses
  • permits
  • raised seal documents

But plenty of paperless applications, such as signatures and emails, can be in their physical paper form.

Encourage employees to print only when necessary and ensure that all printed materials are recycled or shredded after use.

Printer printing paper
Printer printing paper

Step 5. Use a virtual mail service

A virtual mail service helps you go paperless by allowing you to receive and manage all your postal mail digitally. 

Instead of having to physically collect and sort through envelopes, you can have any letter or package sent to a secure online mailbox where it can be managed electronically. 

This eliminates the need for storing and organizing physical documents at home or in the office.

Frequently asked questions

Are there any drawbacks to eliminating paper from my business?

Eliminating paper might require investments in technology if you don’t already have them. 
For example, while most digital filing systems are free, some offer premium plans such as Microsoft 365 and Google One.
Additionally, there might be some security risks and compliance issues due to hackers and cyber-attacks. 
While there is no right solution, consider both sides or implement a dual system for paper and digital.

Why go paperless?

Going paperless improves efficiency, saves costs, reduces environmental impact, and keeps your documents more secure. 
Eliminating paper also frees up space in the office, as well as reducing clutter.
Plus, it offers an opportunity to create an automated process that can handle anything.

In closing

By taking the time to implement paperless processes that eliminate paper from your business, you can significantly reduce costs and improve overall efficiency. 

Eliminating paper waste is good for the environment and beneficial for any organization looking to streamline operations and increase profitability.

Tammy Dang is a staff writer for Shoeboxed covering productivity, organization, and digitization how-to guides for the home and office. Her favorite organization tip is “1-in-1-out.” And her favorite app for managing articles and deadlines is Monday.com. 

About Shoeboxed!

Shoeboxed is a receipt scanning service with receipt management software that supports multiple methods for receipt capture: send, scan, upload, forward, and more!

You can stuff your receipts into one of our Magic Envelopes (prepaid postage within the US). Use our receipt tracker + receipt scanner app (iPhone, iPad and Android) to snap a picture while on the go. Auto-import receipts from Gmail. Or forward a receipt to your designated Shoeboxed email address.

Turn your receipts into data and deductibles with our expense reports that include IRS-accepted receipt images.

Join over 1 million businesses scanning & organizing receipts, creating expense reports and more—with Shoeboxed.

Try Shoeboxed today!