How To Go Paperless As A Small Business

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Drowning under a paper mountain? Struggling to find that one important document that you need in the filing cabinets filled to the brim?

It’s time for your business to finally cast the paper aside and go digital. It’s the perfect way to save time, secure up your documents and make things a lot easier for your business. 

It’s not just helpful to businesses, it’s also expected. Recent research by DocuSign found that 87% of consumers expect to do business digitally – because they believe paper transactions are slow, inconvenient, outdated and unreliable. 

If you’re wondering “is it possible to have a paperless office?”, this guide is for you. 

We’ve got your back. Here are all the ways you can cut back on the paper waste and printing costs. Here’s how to go paperless as a small business. 

How to go paperless as a small business – top 7 tips 

There are countless ways of how to go paperless as a small business. Firstly, it depends on what paper documents you’re currently producing and what you’re using them for. Then, find an online solution that does this exact job, without the paper. 

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To get you started, here are 7 foolproof tips you can try to remove the paper from your office. 

1. Send digital receipts 

End the paper receipts and replace them with digital ones.

If you have a physical store or invoice clients in person, one way to go paperless is to switch to digital receipts rather than paper ones. 

This is a practice that’s adopted well in retail stores, who now ask for email addresses to send the receipt to, rather than print one off. This not only helps save paper, but also helps with any possible returns as they’ll be a more accessible receipt for both the store and the customer. 

Customers are also more likely to trust digital invoices than paper ones – meaning there’s no reason not to go digital on this one.  

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2. Store documents in a secure drive 

Say goodbye to the chaos of a filing system and worrying where you placed that specific document. 

Take advantage of shared online workspaces, like Google Drive or One Drive to store & share your documents. Instantly find and access whatever you need, no matter where you are. 

Share with who needs it, ensure that you’ve always got the latest version and track any changes that have been made. It’s a better way to store your documents. 

3. Transfer information online 

When going paperless, the mantra to remember is that if something can be online, it should be. 

If you need to send information to clients or customers, instead of printing it off and mailing it, send them an email. It’s easier, faster and you’ll never have to worry about something being lost in the mail. Or, if the information was particularly sensitive, hiring a courier and paying for tracked delivery. 

If you’re doing this a lot, it’s going to save a big cost for your business. 

4. Take your accounting online 

There are no reasons for having an accounting system that is not online.

Every business needs to keep their accounts and tax in order. It’s a fact that we all have to face and deal with. 

Before, that meant more boxes of old receipts and finding ways to store your accounts information. What a nightmare. Now, there is countless accounting software that you can use to keep everything online and speed up the entire process. 

Such as FreeAgent, Quickbooks, FreshBooks and more. Find out the strengths and weaknesses of them all, and which ones you will be the right match for your business in our reviews. It has everything you need to make the best decision for your business. 

Not only will it help you with your quest of how to go paperless as a small business, but it will also make accounting a lot simpler. That’s a win-win. 

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5. Make sure you’re paperless with your bank and utilities 

Still getting paper statements from your bank or utility companies? This one is an easy fix.

All you need to do is log-in your accounts and opt for paperless statements. This means that they’ll go straight into your inbox or online account and not through your letterbox. 

It’s a 5-minute task that will save a lot of needless paper. 

6. Advertise online 

Advertising for a small business as changed a lot over the years. Back in the day, this meant printing leaflets, getting your ad in the paper or listing your business in the local yellow pages. 

Online advertising will save you paper and most likely get your better advert results!

Whatever the option, it involved a lot of paper. 

Now, you can advertise your business online, meaning your business can go completely paperless. But with online advertising, you still have a lot of options to pick from, including PPC advertising, email marketing, social media or even banner advertisements on other websites. 

Looking for ideas on how to get started? Read our guide on how to promote your business on Google as a starting point. 

7. Reduce your junk mail

When I was younger, getting mail was exciting. Now, it just feels like a chore when you see a neverending list of junk that you’re not interested in.

If this is happening to your office, you can sign up to DirectMail’s National Do Not Mail List, which limits the amount of junk mail that you will receive. Less junk mail, less hassle and less paper. Excellent.

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What are the benefits of going paperless?

Going paperless as a small business has a number of benefits, including saving time and space. 

If you keep all of your documents online, it makes it much easier to find them exactly when you need them. This also enables you to finally get rid of those horrible filing cabinets and free up some much-needed space within your office. 

Hell, maybe you could even get an extra desk in there and help expand your business? 

Going paperless also helps you save money

When you go paperless, you will save many in countless things besides the paper itself.

This is because you’re spending less money on things like paper, printers, ink, postage and courier systems. But it’s not the only way you save money. 

Because you’ll spend less time finding, organising and using paper documents, you’ll also save money by allowing your employees to get more done in their day. This is particularly true when keeping your accounts in order, as accounting software will help you complete your bookkeeping in a fraction of the time without hiring an accountant. Now, that’s a benefit. 

Keeping your files online can also help with security

This is because you can store files within a secure drive, that will limit what people can access, edit and use sensitive documents. You’ll also be able to see the entire version history, knowing who what changes have happened, when and by who. 

You just can’t get that with paper. 

Going paperless helps your business go green 

One of the biggest benefits of going paperless as a small business is the environmental impact that you can make. 

Having paper-copies of everything is bad for the environment. It contributes to deforestation turns our planet one step closer to a climate disaster. In addition, most paper will sit in your office gathering dust, until it’s eventually shredded and finds a home in a landfill. 

Turning this online makes your business more environmentally sustainable, helping you work towards a better, greener, future. 

How much money can a company save by going paperless?

The amount of money you will save for going paperless will greatly depend on what kind of business you are in but also on your previous practices at the office.

This depends entirely on how much time and resources that your company is currently spending on paper documents. If you’re constantly using the printer, you’ll save on printer costs, supplies, ink and maintenance to start with. 

Not to mention the amount of time that you have to stand frustrated by the printer as something doesn’t work for the 10th time in a row. 

Being able to process documents quickly online will also save time, meaning that your staff can up their workload and take on more clients – meaning more money for you. 

If that’s not enough to convince you, it’s worth bearing in mind that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is set to save $1.5 billion in the next decade from a recent decision to go paperless. 

In addition, our very on NHS have set out in their ‘Paperless 2020’ vision achieving possible savings of £4.4 billion. That’s not something to grumble over. 

How do you encourage employees to go paperless?

This one is not a straightforward answer. Different businesses motivate their employees in different ways. It’s just about finding a solution that works for you and your employees. 

The following are good ideas to get started though: 

  • Tell them the benefits of going paperless, stressing the points they’ll care about, like environmental impact; 
  • Implement new procedures for paperless systems, so paperless isn’t an option; 
  • Introduce incentives or company-wide treats if you hit paperless milestones. 

If going paperless as a company is something that you’re passionate about and important to your business, you’ll find a way to make it important to your employees too.

How to go paperless as a small business – the facts 

Going paperless is a great way to save time, money and help create a more sustainable and greener work environment. 

There are different ways of how to go paperless as a small business.

But the key of it is to ask yourself if the current processes and paper that you’re using can be done online. If it can, making that switch is key to going paperless. 

If you need any more help, just look at the above tips. And don’t print them off.

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Business4Beginners has been advising new businesses owners since 2013. The founder, Paul Bryant, has created, grown and sold several successful businesses and remains the editor and fact-checker of all content published on the site.
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