4 reasons to go paperless in your small business

By Kristen Gramigna

Doing away with all the paper can save your small business both time and money.

Doing away with all that paper can save your small business both time and money.

Small-business owners could typically use more of two very important (and often scarce) resources: Time, and money. Despite the many productivity “hacks” you incorporate into your personal and professional life to make the most of those two things, you may be missing out on one simple operational shift that can gain your business more of both: Going paperless. Here are just four reasons why it can be one of the most impactful moves you make for your business:

You can immediately reduce expenses.  The supplies you buy to run your business may be tax deductible — but they’re not free. Worse still, much of the money you spend on “disposable” supplies, including paper, pens, and all those filing cabinets, file folders and other organizational tools eventually makes its way into the trash can (which your business likely pays to have collected).  According to reduce.org, the average office worker uses 10,000 sheets of copy each year, and the costs of using paper in the office costs as much as 31 times the cost of purchasing it.  In other words, buying a $5 ream of paper can cost your business more than $150 when factoring the “all in” costs of paper use, including printing, hard copy storage and disposal.

Cloud computing is no longer a corporate concept. Managing your business operations “in the cloud” is no longer an intimidating concept requiring a dedicated technical resource, or pricey investment. In fact, there are many document management systems designed particularly for the needs of small-business owners to ensure your paperless environment is secure and streamlined, for desktop and mobile users. Aside from expedited information sharing with your clients, business partners and accountants, your team’s internal productivity is increased with a paperless environment as margins of error are simultaneously reduced. (No more guessing whether the latest version of a shared document is the correct one). A study by Nucleus Research of small, medium and large businesses found that for every dollar a business invests into a cloud-based system, it gets $7.50 back, in at least two years.

It can improve your accounts receivables process. Paper-based invoices cost you in the form of time, money, materials — and risk. Though the Institute of Management and Administration estimates that it costs anywhere from $3 to $5 to produce a paper invoice, the intangible costs are more significant. As Bloomberg Business Week reports based on data by the Commercial Collection Agency Association, the longer an invoice goes unpaid, the lesser the probability the issuer will successfully collect on it. Paper-based invoicing presents inherent delays that can be avoided entirely by going paperless. When an invoice is issued electronically, you can track it when it reaches the recipient’s inbox, and when it’s opened.

By incorporating some form of web-based or mobile payment process into your payment options, you empower invoice recipients to pay what they owe your business immediately via check or debit card. As a result, you can expedite your accounts receivables process, and maintain a more stable cash flow model. Client payments collected via a mobile payment processor, for example, are deposited into your business bank account in about 72 hours. From a simple process shift, the time delays associated with mailing paper invoices and receiving paper checks via “snail mail,” driving to a bank branch to deposit checks and making collections calls to late paying clients are minimized.

(Note from the editor: Folks, I can personally attest to the wisdom of doing your invoicing electronically. When I began sending my invoices electronically instead of snail mailing them, I noticed an immediate improvement in the speed with which they were paid and when I started using a web-based payment optios, that sped things up even more.)

Manage risk more seamlessly. A paper-based office exposes you to many potentially devastating events, including fire, theft and other catastrophes that can be minimized with a paperless system. Additionally, cloud-based document management systems can serve as an insurance policy of sorts against pricey and crippling data loss, should your servers or internal hardware systems crash.

If your business handles sensitive customer data like social security numbers, financial or medical information, you’re subject to certain compliance standards — proving compliance with hard copy documentation is a laborious process. When your business is paperless, it’s easy to search for documentation that auditors and similar governing compliance organizations require in order to prove that you are, in fact, adhering to privacy and security standards, and transmit it electronically.

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Kristen Gramigna is Chief Marketing Officer for BluePay, a credit card processing firm, and also serves on its Board of Directors. She has more than 20 years’ experience in the bankcard industry helping small businesses succeed.

 

7 comments

  1. Attlantis says:

    Cloud services definetely makes it much easier to manage important data of your company. Im sure more and more companies will become paperless as times passes by.

  2. Some business really requires paper work in starting as owners have to maintain daily expenses of a company, and it's not possible to run small or big business with out paper work rather business owner can cut expenses by reducing papers in the office. Kristen Gramigna it's good to see you have raised an such valid point.

  3. You give us much information about this post. Thanks for this nice post. I like this kind of information. I want more posts like that. keep it up

  4. James says:

    Thank you.

  5. IT4la says:

    The decision to go paperless is one that fluctuates from business to business, and it's unquestionably not a universal decision that is right for each company.The most important piece of making the decision to go paperless is doing your research so you can choose if the benefits exceed the challenges.At that point,make a systematic process that won't just manage the cost of you the benefits of being paperless,additionally enhance your productivity in the meantime.

    Kathy Brooks.

  6. saiba aqui says:

    Currently in my small import company we are using a lot of the cloud storage service and this is generating me a great economy.

  7. I and my partner have a midsize business in the import business and are managing to reduce many expenses once we start using various cloud storage services, and being practical is economical and functional.

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