Small Business Owners Can Go Paperless With This Essential Guide

Going paperless within your business may sound like a daunting task, but there are so many online resources for business owners these days that it’s easier than ever before. The benefits are numerous; not only can getting rid of paper keep you more organized and cut costs, but it’s also great for the environment and may be a jumping-off point for your business to start more green initiatives–which will give you an edge against your competitors. Going paperless can also minimize mistakes and provide more security for important documents.

Because going paperless can often be a big job for business owners, it’s important to plan carefully rather than jumping in and ditching all of your paper-based processes at once. Staying organized as you switch everything over to digital is essential, as is training your employees on how to use new software or handle unfamiliar equipment. Here are a few tips on how to go paperless without stress:

Get Organized

Getting your existing paperwork organized is essential, so start by going through documents and sorting them according to type (invoices, contracts, etc.). Once you have everything sorted, you can begin scanning items in order to upload them to the cloud or to a secure file; read reviews on various scanner options to make sure you get the one that meets your needs. Establish a date for items that need to be kept, as well as a process for getting rid of anything older than that date. Shredding paper files is one of the most secure tactics, but make sure that you or a trusted associate takes over those duties.

Invest In The Right Software

Once you’ve taken care of your existing files, it’s important to establish a secure system for all the different types of documents your business uses. Finding the right software can take some time, so read reviews and think about what your specific needs are so you can choose the best option without spending money on bells and whistles you don’t need. Investing in a secure invoicing system will help you keep track of spending, cash flow, and customer due dates. The best invoicing software options will allow customers to pay their bill directly from the invoice itself and will even set up automatic invoices for scheduled payments so you can get paid faster.

You can also look for helpful apps that will allow you to share files online from any device or apply signatures electronically. These apps keep your docs secure while allowing you and your team to handle tasks from anywhere, which is extremely beneficial for remote employees. Keep in mind that PDFs are often the preferred file format, but you can use an online tool that will convert Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files with a simple drag-and-drop system.

Look For Helpful Services

While e-signature apps and invoicing software can help you run things smoothly, it’s also important to look for online services when you need to make changes to your business. Need help redesigning your website? Look for a freelance graphic designer online who can work remotely. Want to change up your business structure? Form an LLC using an online formation service and ensure that your business gets the tax benefits and flexibility that come with a limited liability company. The great thing about online services like this one is that they’ll help you handle every step, so you don’t have to worry about overlooking a crucial aspect and having your application rejected. Every state has its own rules for filing, so get familiar with the regulations in your area beforehand.

Give Your Employees The Right Tools

It’s important to make sure your team has the right software and access to online services, but you also want to provide them with the right hardware, too. Laptops, tablets, and smartphones are an investment that may seem like a big expense but could save you money in the long run. Utilizing tech tools will allow you to eliminate note-taking on paper and printing, two practices that add up costs over time. When introducing new hardware to your team, make sure you go over security initiatives such as password protection and signing devices in and out. Hold training sessions on how to use different devices if necessary.

Keep in mind, as well, that eliminating paper documents and only using digital storage may put your business at risk of losing important items, so it’s crucial to back up everything and ensure you can always access copies even if you suffer from cyber theft or a system breakdown.

Eliminate Paper Bills

Eliminating paper documents within your business is one step, but it’s also a good idea to think outside of your company. How much paper mail does your business receive in a week? How much junk mail do you end up shredding or throwing away? Sign up for automatic or digital payments for things like utilities and credit cards, and have bank statements sent to your email. Not only will this eliminate a lot of paper clutter, but it will also help you stay on top of your bills and keep track of cash flow with the touch of a button.

Keep Communication Open

Finally, it’s essential to keep communication with your team members open throughout the process of changing over to a paperless system. Not only will this help prevent costly mistakes, but it can also help those who are having a hard time getting accustomed to new practices. Hold weekly meetings and training sessions in order to maintain consistency and ensure that everyone is on the same page, and look for online resources and new tools that will help you go even further with the process.

Going paperless is a great way to move your business forward and utilize eco-friendly processes, but it can take some time. Try to be patient as you and your employees make changes, and understand that it may need to be done in increments to avoid overwhelming your team.

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