Your 2017 Business Resolution: Going Paperless

By Erin Engelbrecht · Posted on Tuesday, January 3, 2017 · Tagged in Other IT Systems




It's a new year and many entrepreneurs find it's the perfect time to implement improvements to their business. Have you thought about going paperless? The idea has been kicked around since 1975, but it's still not a widely utilized practice in small business today. Going paperless at work (and at home too) has many benefits.

Environmental Impact

Although recycling does help, it's better to avoid it on the front end. It's like bringing your own fabric bags to the grocery store to haul your food versus using plastic bags provided by the store. Reducing the amount of paper you receive in the first place is a great start. Ask vendors if they have paperless billing options. If you make business purchases at brick-and-mortar stores, many can can e-mail receipts instead of printing them out. And for paper you can't help but receive, more and more municipalities are accepting shredded paper in their recycle bin. Scan and save documents you receive, shred, bag, and recycle.

Space Saver

Businesses can outgrow the space they're in simply because of the increasing number of filing cabinets and archive boxes they need to store documents. Moving to a bigger space to accommodate that equals higher costs. The alternative, renting an offsite storage space, also means an additional expense. For entrepreneurs with a home office, the space dedicated to their venture becomes smaller and more cramped over time. Unless you're in an industry that says otherwise, very few documents have to be retained in original form. You can realistically store all important, original paperwork in a manila folder or, at the most, a small two-drawer file cabinet.

The IRS

One of the most common concerns with going paperless is how to deal with an audit from the IRS or some other taxing authority. Luckily, the IRS has been accepting scanned documents in lieu of originals as evidence since 1997 and many other agencies have followed suit. Unless you live in a jurisdiction that hasn't adopted this practice, retaining originals isn't necessary anymore.

Data Loss

This sounds a bit motherly, but what if there was a fire and all you have are paper documents? What if they're damaged beyond repair? How would you recover that information? With the proper backup measures in place, you will never lose your data in a paperless environment. Data storage options abound ranging from Cloud-based solutions to storing a physical backup drive offsite. No matter your preference, there's a solution out there that's right for you.

Efficiency

Using a virtual filing system will increase efficiency with many tasks. Every document is easily found and readily accessible. Receive an email request from the bank asking for numerous pieces of documentation? No problem! Simply reply and attach what they need. No more physically searching through file cabinets, pulling out paperwork, scanning, sending, and then filing back. Did I mention your accountant will love you during tax time if you do this?

Portability

If you choose a Cloud-based storage solution and accounting program, your office is essentially everywhere you go. If you have employees, it gives them more work-from-home options. You're no longer tied to one location. Because of this portability, a paperless office improves turnaround time and reduces reaction time.

Are You Ready?

Going paperless is easier than you think. For the average small business, it costs almost nothing to get started. The biggest challenge is initially setting up your "virtual file cabinet". It should be easy to navigate and intuitive so documents can be quickly located with minimal effort. If you don't know where to start and need help getting it set up properly, talk to a colleague, accountant, or business consultant who has experience with paperless offices.


I am 100% paperless with both my business and personal finances. My business has been paperless since inception and I started with my personal finances in 2014. I don't receive one bill in the mail. I don't own one file cabinet. There are no stacks or piles of papers on my desk…just a notebook to jot things down while I'm on the phone. My office is open and airy; I don't feel bogged down or encroached upon. It's a wonderful and freeing feeling. I wholeheartedly believe in everyone going paperless and hope that you will consider making the change. You won't regret it.


Al Del Degan from Capturing Legacies Inc.
0 Locals Recommend Them • Posted on Wednesday, January 18, 2017

I agree, I have been paperless in my personal and business life for a while now. I make use of G-Suite for my business, personal and volunteer work. The benefits are immeasureable.

Michelle Barth from Just Escape Travel
1 Local Recommends Them • Posted on Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Great article Erin! Are specific apps or online tools that you recommend for your digital file cabinet or organization?


Erin Engelbrecht from Organized Piggy
9 Locals Recommend Them • Replied on Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Hi Michelle,

For small businesses, like myself, I like to keep it simple and low-cost. I have a printer/scanner combo and scan any paper I receive. I save it directly to the appropriate folder on my machine. For documents that already come electronically, I download them to the appropriate folder as well. I have a PC so I use Windows Explorer to add and manage folders. That's my virtual filing cabinet.

I also use Sync.com for Cloud storage and for sharing files with clients. Since I deal with sensitive information, I password protect all files. The client... (more)


Jack Beberniss, CMRM from JB Revenue Management, LLC
19 Locals Recommend Them • Replied on Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Hello Michelle,

My business offers a solution for individuals or businesses to put their documents in the cloud and go paperless:) www.jbrevenuemanagement.com Please, check out my service and click on the video iDocs.

Thanks,

Kind regards,

Jack Beberniss, CMRM

Joseph Gallucci from MyPayJunction.com
2 Locals Recommend Them • Posted on Monday, January 16, 2017
Trees terminal receipts

One very important way that a business can go paperless is by eliminating credit card receipts. Thermal credit card receipts can't be recycled, and therefore they have a very negative impact on the environment. Retailers and other institutions use 254,100 tons of receipt paper each year. It takes about 17 trees to make a tone of paper. There are about 4.3 million trees cut down each year to make paper receipts.


Paper recetips also commonly contain a chemical called bisphenol-A (BPA). It's an endocrine disruptor, which is known to cause a variety of health... (more)

Jackie Anthony from AllCents Consulting, LLC
2 Locals Recommend Them • Posted on Thursday, January 5, 2017

Thought you might like to look at the following

https://www.allcentsbookkeeping.com/hubdoc

We use Hubdoc for our clients, giving them a single view on all their accounts and receipts whilst also allowing the financial documents to flow into the relevant business applications with a full audit trail.

For financial documentation, Hubdoc is paperless on steroids!


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