Before you stick yet another receipt into that bulging envelope of paper scraps, there’s something you need to know. Paper is going the way of the dinosaur. A plethora of resources are available to help you ditch the paper and free yourself of the clutter and time wasted on keeping up with all those documents. With a few simple changes, you can maximize efficiency and communication with customers. And of course most importantly, it’s also friendly for the environment.
But how do you take the paperless plunge? Here are a few ideas to help you get started.
Get your head in the clouds
Or rather, the cloud. Various cloud storage programs allow you to store, share and access everything from one secure place. Google Docs is the frontrunner with its easy word processing and collaboration capabilities so that multiple people can view and edit the same doc. Other programs include Flickr, which gives you one free terabyte of storage to store photos or Bloomfire is another useful program for uploading user manuals, articles and other business-related documents.
Scan your stress away
The painful thing about paper is that it can easily be misplaced or accidently tossed in the garbage. Scanning documents minimizes the risk of losing them and saves storage space, while minimizing the human error involved in manual data input. Apps like Scanbot allow easy capturing of docs, photos and contracts, with the ability to edit and sign them digitally. There’s even an optional character recognition feature which turns text images into editable and searchable text.
Farewell filing cabinet
One of the biggest headaches for small business owners is time spent on paperwork. Countless hours of valuable work and even family time is lost in printing, finding, and filing invoices and receipts. Invoice2go let you create quotes, invoices, business reports and store receipts in a few taps on your mobile device. Glenn, from Affordable Lawn Care, retired his paper invoices for Invoice2go, saving him 5 hours a week. He said, “I was spending way too much time dealing with paper invoices, which meant less time in the field. I wanted to be doing what I enjoyed, not dealing with my accounts.”
Take a note, read it later
Put down the sticky pad and whip out your smartphone when you need to jot down a quick note or to-do list. Apps like Evernote and Todoist keep your digital notes and lists handy and accessible from all your devices and can easily be shared with customers and colleagues. Other apps like Pocket can be a lifesaver when you didn’t save the link of an interesting online article or website. Instead of racking your brain trying to remember where you found it, you can save it in Pocket and come back to it later.
Like any new endeavor, going paperless with the help of technology can be daunting at first. But start slowly. Be patient, because it will take time, but once you go paperless, you’ll wonder why you didn’t do it sooner. Your business (and customers) are worth it.