There’s a reason everyone is scrambling to go paperless. A paperless office will not only benefit the environment, it will save you hundreds to thousands of dollars every year in office supplies and prevent millions of potential organizational headaches.
When you go paperless, you’ll be able to find what you want when you need it, work in a motivating and clutter-free environment, and sync every aspect of your paper-free existence in the cloud.
So where should you start when so many of your current operations include file folders, paper clips, and the CTRL+P function?
First thing’s first. You need to the proper tools.
Get the tools
The biggest hurdle for most small businesses when they attempt to go paperless is the long term buildup of clutter.
Sure, you could stop ordering printer paper today, but that wouldn’t account for the stacks of old invoices collecting dust on your desk, or the jam-packed filing cabinets filled with who-knows-what.
Get your hands on the superhero of scanners, the Fujitsu ScanSnap. Unlike an ordinary scanner, which can be slow as molasses and only scans a single document at a time, the ScanSnap series is designed for mass scanning.
We’re talking up to 25 pages a minute scanned at 200 DPI and digitized into a variety of editable, searchable formats that can be shared and exported in a snap (ha!).
Once scanned, all of your data can be formatted into PDF, Word, Excel documents, you name it! Some of the more robust models have feed trays that hold up to 50 pages of paper at a time, allowing you to leave the scanning to the machine as you go about your day.
Choose from a variety of sizes and styles to suit your office’s needs. If you or your employees are constantly on the go, choose the lightweight Mobile Scanner for business travel. If you find that you have more receipts to scan than full-sized sheets of paper, this travel scanner can handle small receipts as tiny as one inch in length, plus business cards!
Now that we’ve gotten all of that clutter out of the way, it’s time to dig in and really go paperless.
One of the most complicated, time-consuming and potentially paper-wasting areas of your business is your accounts payable and receivable departments.
Happily, with the hordes of cloud-based accounting software out there, it’s easy to streamline every area of your accounting functionality at low or no cost.
Check out our Dino Accounting Series to find the right accounting solution to count your bones!
Speaking of being on the go, how are you supposed to go paperless when old-fashioned retailers and restaurants are still handing out paper receipts?
By the time you get back to the office, your wallet or purse is packed with expenses that need to be tracked, and before you know it, you’re back in a clutter-filled abyss of disorganized discontent.
Prevent paper takeover by downloading the Shoeboxed Receipt and Mileage Tracker, which lets you instantly capture and beam paper receipts directly to your account.
Simply snap a photo of the receipt in question, tag it as an expense, and toss that pesky piece of paper in the nearest recycle bin.
If a retailer offers you an emailed receipt, maintain your privacy by giving them your custom Shoeboxed email address. The receipt will automatically appear in your account and be categorized and labeled before you can say “afternoon latte.”
One of the most effective ways to go paperless is to implement cloud-based software programs into every area of your small business.
Think of all of the things you do throughout the day that currently utilize paper. These might include signing contracts, issuing payroll checks, or sending faxes. All of these functions have paperless options that will streamline operations, save trees, and save you money!
HelloSign allows you to sign contracts and other documents without printing, faxing, or scanning a single thing!
When you create your free account, you’ll be able to e-sign whatever you like, send it to others for signing, and track the entire process without ever leaving your laptop.
Since the IRS considers e-signatures legally binding, there’s no reason to sign in ink ever again.
If you have employees, chances are you’re able to offer them direct deposit instead of a paper paycheck. But what about that annoying “This is not a check” stub that still gets issued?
Scrap it right now with ZenPayroll, a cloud-based payroll software system that automatically tracks and pays your State and Federal taxes without killing a single tree.
Instead of being issued a paystub, your employees will enjoy online access to their own personalized account, which includes their payment history and digitized paystubs.
If you’re still required to send a fax now and again, forget the hassle of printing out pages and wrangling cover sheets. HelloFax helps you go paperless by creating digital e-faxes that don’t require a fax machine.
Send and receive faxes via email using the same fax number you’ve always used. If you customer or client has an old school fax machine, they’ll receive your fax as a traditional paper print out.
With all of these incredible tools, it’s clear that going paperless is the most convenient, financially sound option for savvy SMBs. But even with all the technology, how can you break old organizational habits and get the maximum benefits from being paper-free?