Remember the old days? Bulky (and potentially unsecure) filing cabinets, storage facilities, photocopiers, printers, fax and scanners... expensive, bulky and love to breakdown. Replacing courier services with emails, swapping paper newsletters for digital, cash for cashless and adopting SAAS (software as a service) technology means serious cost savings.
They're a thing of the past for many - but how can small businesses adapt to an increasingly digital world for a more efficient and effective business?
Essentially, this shift comes down to replacing paper with pixels. By taking your business online and using greener technology, you're not only helping the environment, you're freeing up a ton of time, working capital and often creating a superior experience for your customers, employees, partners, and suppliers.
The 'Old Way'
You buy a coffee, pay with cash and ask for a VAT receipt.
You have a loyalty card and pass that to the cashier to add points to your card.
It stays in your wallet, until you next empty it and leave it in a pile to process with the rest This pile gets bigger...and bigger...
So you stuff them all in a carrier bag or shoe box/es for your accountant
After a couple of months you drop/post them to your accountant to process
The said carrier bag/show box is returned to you and adds to your ever growing piles of paper, boxes, bags and what not.
Your wallet gets fuller and fuller of cash, coins, receipts and loyalty cards!
The 'New Way'
You buy a coffee and pay using your phone
Your loyalty card is in an app on your phone and also scans automatically
You spend 2 minutes whizzing your receipts digitally to your accountant using HubDoc/Xero
Everything is stored securely in the cloud
No paper piles, bags, boxes, cash and receipts cluttering your already busy life. If you're not embracing this into your small business, you could get left behind by those that do.
If you hold onto a receipt for weeks or months at a time, your books will not be accurate. This lack of real-time data may scew your financial reality, impact your decision making and weaken insights into your finances.
Since all your documents are stored online, your data is exactly where it needs to be when you need it. All this without sitting up late at night - frustrated by having to go through and sort piles of paper.
Here's some more very effective strategies to easily help take your small business paperless:
1. Use Google Apps For Business
The suite of apps offered by Google can help small businesses cut down on the amount of paper they need. Collaborate electronically on projects via Google Docs. For non-Google Docs files, share them through Google Drive.
2. Switch to cloud accounting and invoicing
Just as in the example above..reduce or even eliminate the number of paper invoices your business sends out. Xero enables you to send invoices instantly and get paid instantly. If you're not already using Xero alongside a great accountant then you could be adding around 6 hours to your week! (Xero survey of business owners 2020)
3. Do you really need to print?
We've seen the email footer messages for years - but do you really need to print it?
If you do have to print it - shred and recycle.
4. Move Your Marketing Strategy Online
Marketing via email is a lot less expensive than a direct mail campaign, a lot less time-consuming and more cost effective. In an article in the Harvard Business Review it was found that the response rate for direct mail marketing and email marketing was about equal, which means it can be of great advantage to your small business to adopt a digital marketing strategy. In some instances, a real live copy of a brochure does have the edge - so be sure to use recycled paper and showcase your green credentials wherever you can.
5. Get Electronic Receipts For Office Supply Purchases
The next time you head out to pick up miscellaneous supplies or larger purchases, ask to have your receipt emailed to you - it's one less piece of paper to keep track of. Establish folders in your email account to store these receipts as they arrive, so when the time comes to sort through your expenses you can have an easy job of it, by simply sending them off to your accountant via Hubdoc/Xero.
6. Reduce Junk Mail
Opt out of all junk mail with your local post provider.
Going paperless may make you feel a bit apprehensive or even more vulnerable, knowing there are no hard-copy backups of what you've stored in the cloud. You could get an external hard drive and transfer all of your documents onto it. Also consider signing up for a second cloud-based service, simply for backup purposes.
Fortunately, with the strength and rapid evolution of cloud based businesses or SAAS businesses this is highly unlikely and not just the future of document storage and doing business - but the now.
Purple Accounts is a Xero Gold Champion and has used Xero since 2008. Customers get access to Xero for free along with Hubdoc to upload all their receipts digitally.
For a no obligation chat with an expert about your small business and how we can help, get in touch today.