For years, we’ve been told that going paperless is great for the environment and that the ‘paperless office’ is just around the corner – like a flying car and tech cities. In reality, most businesses are still buried under a mountain of paperwork: invoices, receipts, bills, bank statements correspondence, payslips, drawings, plans, manuals, reports… not to mention a constant stream of forms! It’s a non-stop avalanche of paper!
While it may look cheap, all this paper hides very significant costs. The production and processing of paper documents averaged out to about 27 to 50 cents per sheet. That includes labor and materials, and does not include the costs of filing and storage. The cost of finding and retrieving a piece of paper from filing averages around $5! When examined closely, the use of paper demands a lot of labor around organizing and retrieving documents, and re-entry of information. It is the hidden costs associated with that labor that makes paper so expensive.
If you’re consciously trying to make an effort to go paperless, the first thing you should look at is… financial records. That would be receipts, bank statement, invoices, and other transactional and financial documents. That is where the bulk of your paper usage lies.
This is a big issue for all small businesses. For taxation purposes, we need to keep receipts, banks statements, invoices, and other transactional documents for an extended period to comply with tax regulations. Even if your accounting systems are up-to-date, you still need to be able to produce the paperwork for your Accountants and the Taxation Office.
Technically, you only need to keep digital copies of your financial records: not the paper itself. If you adopt a personal (and professional) policy where all financial records are stored electronically, you gain several benefits: no physical space is taken up in the office; you can share copies of the records with your accountants with a simple mouse-click, you can find information quickly from your keyboard or even phone, rather than digging around in filing cabinets.
Try going paperless as a matter of personal preference. If that works for you, then you can use the principles (with some tweaks) for your business.
Here are some tips:
Get a good, reliable flatbed scanner – you’ll need one that is easy to use but efficient in scanning, converting, and filing your documents. If you can get one that has duplex scanning feature (saves more paper) and wireless options (for greater convenience), that’ll be great – but you can do with just the conventional scanner that has a decent document feeder.
Physical boxes (Inbox and Outbox) – the inbox contains all the necessary documents that you wish to scan while the outbox will contain all the documents that you have already scanned once you’re done filing them into the appropriate digital folders. Remember to dispose of these properly!
Digital/Electronic Filing system – create folders that are appropriately labeled and start scanning and filing all your documents into them. Some examples are: House Documents – contains property docs, mortgage docs, rental receipts, repair receipts, etc.
Lastly, call your service providers and request for an e-bill or electronic bill. I get all my statements and bills sent to me via email. I can also access them online. The bills and statements are conveniently available for download if I ever need to have a physical copy.
Going paperless takes some getting used to. But if you can practice this in your home, then you can adopt it on a larger scale for your business. Let me know how your paper purging works out in the comments. Goodluck and remember to stay humble and hustle hard!
Written by Jaie O. The Help