Top 10 Ways to Go Paperless in 2016

Small business innovators and environmental activists are predicting 2016 to be the greenest year ever. That’s because it’s never been easier to go paperless, and save time, money, and trees while you’re at it. Here are quick, easy, cost-effective changes you can make to eliminate paper clutter and positively impact the planet in 2016.

Small business innovators and environmental activists are predicting 2016 to be the greenest year ever. That’s because it’s never been easier to go paperless, and save time, money, and trees while you’re at it.

Here are quick, easy, cost-effective changes you can make to eliminate paper clutter and positively impact the planet in 2016.

1. Just Say No to Shopping Bags
Bring your own reusable shopping bags everywhere you go – from Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods to CVS and Target. If you have paper bags at home, you can use them again or donate them back to the store.

2. Scan Your Receipts
Remove receipt clutter from your home and office by scanning your receipts to your Shoeboxed account. It’s easy to digitize stacks of receipts using a desktop scanner, or individual receipts using your smartphone. (See #7 if the mere thought of scanning all of your paper clutter makes you feel like crying).

3. Sign up for Paperless Billing
Make sure you select the paperless billing option for every bill you pay, and consider going paperless for your company payroll too.

4. Send Paperless Faxes
In 2016, sending faxes no longer requires a fax machine. Use a service like HelloFax to send and receive faxes right from your computer – no printing, no paper, and no annoying dial tone!

5. Save to PDF
Wait – there’s no need to print that PDF, even if it needs to be edited by multiple team members. Save a tree and use an app like Nitro instead, which allows you to edit PDFs and convert them to other document types.

6. Trade Post-Its for Whiteboards
Sticky notes are one of the most annoying forms of paper clutter. They’re easily lost and make your office look like a kindergartener’s (not to mention the wasted environmental resources). Try erasable whiteboards instead to jot down ideas, to-do’s, and meetings.

7. Use the Magic Envelope
If the thought of scanning your receipts makes you weepy, let us do the heavy lifting for you. Just dump your paper receipts and other documents into the Shoeboxed Magic Envelope, and drop the envelope in the mail. When your docs arrive at Shoeboxed headquarters, we’ll scan and upload everything to your Shoeboxed account, giving you a completely fresh, paperless start to 2016.

8. Work in Google Drive
Enjoy paperless collaboration with team members by working in Google Drive. Easily add comments, make edits, view all saved versions of the document, and work together in real time.

9. eSign your Documents
Rare is the occasion nowadays where you need to “print, sign, and scan” anything. Since your electronic signature is legally binding, it’s far more eco-friendly and cost- effective to eSign all documents using a service like HelloSign.

10. Use Email Marketing Campaigns
Direct mail campaigns are expensive and time-consuming, and the results can be difficult to track. Send a paperless email campaign instead and get instant marketing data. You can also reward customers with virtual coupons and electronic discounts, both of which can be redeemed sans paper via the user’s smartphone.

How will you go paperless this year?

The Top 5 Document Scanners for Small Businesses

If your small business is ready to go paperless, a document scanner can help you digitize all your receipts and documents. Here are our top 5 favorites!

If your small business is ready to go paperless, you’re going to need a powerful document scanner to take you from hard copy-zero to digitized hero.

Some of the best digital scanners available today are single-function scanners that are designed specifically to turn documents, receipts, and business cards into editable, exportable, searchable data.

If you’re serious about going paperless, one of those dinky, multi-function scanner/printer/fax hybrids just won’t cut it. Top scanners are able to:

  • Detect document size

  • Scan large stacks of documents at once

  • Scan multiple pages per minute

  • Digitize data into exportable formats

  • Scan to third party programs like Shoeboxed, QuickBooks, and Google Drive

Here are our top 5 document scanners for small businesses that are in need of some serious scanning power.

1. Fujitsu ScanSnap S1300i

The Fujitsu ScanSnap S1300i (pictured above) is Fujitsu’s smallest, lightest, most powerful multi-page mobile scanner. Weighing in at just under 5 pounds, this model is perfect for business travel and off-site projects that require the power and efficiency of a desktop scanner without the bulk.

Mac and PC users can scan color and grayscaled documents at lightning-fast speeds – up to a dozen double-sided pages per minute. The ScanSnap intuitively detects the size of your paper document, making it easy to scan everything from business cards to bank statements.

In addition to allowing you to create one-click, searchable PDF scans, the ScanSnap makes it easy to scan to a variety of different cloud-based programs, including Evernote, SugarSync, Dropbox, Google Docs, and Salesforce CRM.

2. Visioneer Strobe 500

The Visioneer Strobe 500 Mobile Duplex Color Scanner with Docking Station is a multi-function scanner that serves as a powerful desktop unit and a lightweight travel scanner.

When used within its docking station, the Visioneer Strobe rivals the most powerful desktop scanners in terms of scanning speed and document feeding. But when business travels calls, this 7-pound powerhouse can be easily ejected from its docking station and used on-the-go thanks to its USB functionality.

The Visioneer is slightly heavier than the ScanSnap, but with an extra 3 pounds of weight comes additional scanning power: the feeder holds up to 20 documents at once and can scan up to 30 images per minute.

Another great function of the Visioneer is its ingenious function settings. By adjusting the settings of each button on the scanner, you can instantly scan documents to pre-set locations such as email, a specific folder on your computer, or your favorite web publishing program.

3. Xerox DocuMate 3115

The Xerox DocuMate 3115 is one of the most flexible scanners on the market. Whether you’re digitizing business cards or oddly-shaped photos, or working in the office or on the road, the DocuMate has you covered.

Like the Visioneer, the DocuMate comes with a docking station that lets you easily convert the desktop scanner to a mobile scanner. Its extra USB cable makes it possible to power the scanner without an AC adapter, making it easy to scan from absolutely anywhere.

The DocuMate also comes with Visioneer OneTouch software, which makes exporting scanned documents a breeze. There are 6 settings preconfigured for popular applications, but each one can be easily customized.

The best part? The DocuMate is able to deliver digital scans to just about any application in existence, as well as any device – scan documents to your hard drive, a cloud-based app, your smartphone, or your tablet.

4. Kodak ScanMate i940

The Kodak ScanMate i940 scanner is lightweight, functional, and USB-powered. Although it’s meant to be primarily a desktop scanner, its weight (5 pounds) and USB capability make it another surefire bet for scanning off-site if need be.

The ScanMate specializes in scanning every shape and size document – even plastic ID cards, embossed cards, and over-sized paper.

SmartTouch and NewSoft Presto! Bizcard software make it easy to manage contacts and sync business card scans with existing contact records.

You can also edit scanned images with power that rivals top image editing software – rotate and crop photos, adjust contrast and brightness, and take advantage of Kodak’s Perfect Page software to perfect each and every scan.

5. Xerox Mobile Wi-Fi Scanner

The Xerox Mobile Wi-Fi Scanner is a wireless, cordless, battery-powered scanner and the quintessential device for business travel and mobile scanning.

At just 2.8 pounds, it’s the lightest scanner on our list, with a design that’s managed to retain a fair amount of power even when compared with the larger desktop scanners.

In addition to being completely wireless, the Xerox Mobile scanner is able to scan up to 6 full pages per minute. That’s not quite as powerful as the Visioneer in terms of speed, but what this model lacks in power it makes up for in portability.

You scan up to 300 documents on a single battery charge,  and use the included Eye-Fi memory card to instantly beam scanned documents to any device or cloud-based application.

The wireless technology allows you to sync up to 32 different networks with your device. Any time you’re within range of one of those networks, all of your scanned documents are instantly sent to the destination of your choice.

All 5 of these document scanners are fantastic choices for small businesses looking to go paperless and turn hard copies into digital data.

When deciding which scanner is right for your company, prioritize in terms of power and portability. Do you need to scan large stacks of documents quickly? Then the Visioneer Strobe 500, Xerox DocuMate 3115, or Kodak ScanMate i940 might be best for you.

Are you constantly on the go and need to scan documents remotely? Then the Xerox Mobile Wi-Fi Scanner or Fujitsu ScanSnap S1300i might be best for your small business.

Which document scanner are you currently using in your office?

Image via Amazon

Affiliate Disclosure: Some links in the article above are referral links and we may receive compensation for sending you the way of these scanning companies.

5 Ways to Go Green While Filing Your Taxes in 2014

Tax season is the perfect time to start implementing green, environmentally friendly practices into your daily work routine. These five tips will help you get started.

Tax season has officially arrived, and with it comes a great opportunity for entrepreneurs! Now I know I just used the words “tax” and “great” in the same sentence when they typically tend to be as far apart as you can get them, but tax season is actually the perfect time to start implementing green, environmentally friendly practices into your daily work routine. These five tips will help you get started.

1. Digitize as you work

I understand why only a few people have moved past keeping physical records. Digitization can take a lot of time, and old habits die hard. However, continuing to ask for, or printing out, physical copies of every important document and receipt can have a really negative affect on the environment. We already waste too much paper, so why add to the problem? As you begin to work on your returns, scan important documents (or use Shoeboxed) so that you can access the digital versions easily. In the following months, opt to receive electronic copies of bank statements, receipts, and other necessary records whenever possible.

2. eFile

Did you know that the IRS has been experimenting with eFiling since 1986? Even back then, most government agencies had recognized the need to modernize and eFiling was seen as a great way to help clear out storage space and use less paper. 28 years later, and eFiling is now the most popular way to file returns. Back in 2012, nearly 80% of all returns were filed electronically. According to accounting firm H&R Block, over 28,000 trees were saved during the 2011 tax season thanks to eFiling. If you haven’t started eFiling, this tax season is a great year to start. Federal eFiling is free and, though some states charge for eFiling, the fee is nominal and you really help the environment by going and staying digital.

3. Think before you print

A lot of people I know who work on their own taxes like having printouts of IRS regulations so they can keep them on the table and look at them whenever they need to. And, while that system works, it is a waste of paper. The IRS has made it easier than ever before to search through digital copies of instructions and forms, and a quick search is much more efficient than sorting through stacks of paper. Try using only digital copies of IRS rules and instructions – you’d be surprised at how much easier it is to hang onto these documents and share them with other entrepreneurs doing their taxes too.

4. Recycle whatever paper you use

No matter how green you go, it’s still tough to get through the tax season without using some paper. Maybe you have a notebook that you use to add receipts, or maybe you like having a stack of Post-It notes handy so you can quickly scrawl down form numbers or instructions. Whatever the case, you’ll inevitably use some paper, and that’s fine – just make sure you also remember to use that lovely little recycling bin next to your desk when you’re done.

5. Take advantage of ‘green’ tax credits

One great incentive to going digital for your taxes is that the government rewards people and businesses that are trying to go green. Though a few of the most popular green tax incentives expired in 2011, there are still plenty of tax breaks available to the environmentally conscious. One credit will cover 30% of new renewable energy systems installed in residential homes, and buying and installing certain Energy Star products can also net you a nice tax credit. Also, if you supported a qualified environmental charity, you can also deduct the donations made to them in 2013!

Going green with your taxes might seem difficult at first, but if you’ve been toying with trying to live a more environmentally conscious life, tax season is a great opportunity to do just that. Opt for electronic record keeping, eFile your returns, recycle whatever paper you do use, and don’t forget to claim whatever green-related tax breaks you can. Once you start changing the way you work, you’ll quickly find yourself changing the way you live.

Author Bio:

Deborah Sweeney is the CEO of MyCorporation is a leader in online legal filing services for entrepreneurs and businesses, providing start-up bundles that include corporation and LLC formation, registered agent, DBA, and trademark & copyright filing services. MyCorporation does all the work, making the business formation and maintenance quick and painless, so business owners can focus on what they do best. Follow her on Google+ and on Twitter @mycorporation.