Completely eliminating paper in your small business may not always be practical but even a small reduction in paper usage could yield cost savings and boost productivity. Let’s take a look at the benefits of running a paperless office and our top 7 tips for going paper-free:
Benefits of a Paperless Offices
Over the years, there’s a good chance that you’ve accumulated boxes and boxes of files that may take up a significant percentage of your office space. Going paperless can reduce overhead by freeing up closets, storage rooms and even entire offices.
A digital document archive that boasts easy searchability will greatly improve staff productivity, especially if some of your team works remotely.
Apart from saving paper, a paperless environment could also result in lower energy consumption to power fax machines and copiers.
You might be surprised at how much your small business spends on paper and ink each month, not to mention the cost of maintaining printers and other devices.
Say goodbye to filing cabinets and hello to the cloud. When you make the switch to paperless, we don’t recommend storing your scanned documents on local drive, CDs or USB drives. Instead, it’s time to explore services like Dropbox or Google Drive for your data storage needs.
Remember that the cloud is a much safer method of storage compared to a local hard drive. For example, if your USB stick is stolen, the loss of traditional accounting software and data could be catastrophic. Similarly, in the event of a natural disaster, there would be no downtime if your data is in the cloud. Lastly, there is no need to worry about data backups, software bugs, operating systems crashing or user errors. In the cloud, this is all done seamlessly.
Related: Cloud bookkeeping is secure
Switch to a Paperless Office in 7 Steps
Whether you plan to go paperless straight away or gradually ease into it. Here are 7 steps to consider:
- Get Your Employees On Board
Creating a paperless culture requires buy-in from your employees. Consider creating incentives to reward your team members whenever they print fewer documents. During the employee training process, you should also determine data access levels and protocols including file naming conventions, etc.
- Digitize Internal Documents
While it may be tempting to scan all your physical documents at once, it might not always be realistic. We recommend starting with documents you need right now and then create a plan for dealing with archival information such as older contracts or employee records.
In addition, take this opportunity to determine how long you should keep documents. For example, when it comes to business transactions, the IRS notes that “the length of time you should keep a document depends on the action, expense, or event the document records. You must keep your records as long as needed to prove the income or deductions on a tax return.”
- Switch to Online Banking
Contact your bank and let them know you’d like to receive paperless statements from now on.
RQB Tip: Connect your bank accounts with your accounting software to gain access to updated data, track your expenses for tax purposes and pay your vendors. If you are using QuickBooks Online (QBO), it will download the last 90 days of transactions when you first sync your bank account. Thereafter, the software will automatically run your financial transactions each night.
- Upload Receipts Immediately
Having a good handle on your receipts is critical to help you to find mistakes or identify gaps in your financial records. If you are not keeping your receipts safe and organized for the business or worse, if you typically lose them or mix them in with your personal receipts, then you will have a very difficult time if you ever get audited.
The good news is that you can digitally store your receipts in order to gain better control over your business finances. Many accounting software platforms such as QuickBooks allow you to upload scanned copies of your receipts so that you can get rid of physical paper altogether.
RQB Tip: Consider using QuickBooks’ mobile app. This feature makes it easy for users to attach photos of receipts and even has the functionality to “sync PayPal transactions, link business cards with American Express, import sales data from Square and more.”
- Create a Digital Signature
Once you upload a document to your document editing software, all takes is a few clicks to add your Digital Signature (which is legally binding) and email the PDF document to the recipient. This is a great way to save time during the client and employee onboarding process.
- Let Your Clients Know
Send your clients an email to let them know that you will now be paper free and what to expect with your new invoicing process! Remember that the faster you invoice clients, the faster you will get paid.
RQB Tip: QuickBooks allows you to automatically create and send invoices to your clients saving you time and helping you to improve your cash flow management. The software also provides the ability to keep track of outstanding invoices so you can have real-time visibility when it comes to your accounts receivable.
- Encourage Your Vendors to Switch Too!
Let your vendors know that you’re going paperless and encourage them to do the same if they haven’t already.
As you can see, switching to a paperless office can have many advantages for your small business. Apart from saving time and money, it gives you more flexibility to run your business from anywhere and access the information you need when you need it. This is especially beneficial when it comes to managing your books. Remember, having real-time access to your books allows you to make the most informed decisions to take your small business from strength to strength.
Need more help with keeping your books up-to-date and accurate? Reach out to our team today to see how making the switch to an outsourced provider will save time, money and quite frankly, the headache that comes with bookkeeping.