Short answer: Yes.
Long answer: Any entrepreneur worth his salt knows that running a business means looking to streamline your processes and operations as much as possible. Not only does streamlining cut costs, it also improves production, which in turn improves your bottom line.
One way for businesses to streamline operations is to shift to a paperless business model. Not only does it save on costs, time, and money, it’s also eco-friendly. But aside from the environmental implications, what other benefits are there for businesses to go paperless?
Reduce Paper Mail
It might not seem like much, but maintaining a mailroom in your company is both time-consuming and a drain on resources. Going through stacks upon stacks of paper mail could take hours out of your day, not to mention the manpower you need to hire just to help dispose, shred, or file all that paper.
So instead of going through all that, why not just stop receiving that kind of mail in the first place?
You can accomplish this by opting out of non-essential mailing lists. For important documents like invoices, account statements, and the like, ask your financial institution if you can receive electronic copies instead, with paper copies being sent only by request.
Ask business partners and potential applicants to correspond with you via email or an online account. This will drastically reduce your overheads because you no longer have to maintain a mailroom, plus you add an extra layer of security to your operations: paper documents can easily be intercepted or misplaced, while documents sent via email are generally more secure and easier to manage.
Reduces Office Clutter
When your business shifts to paperless, you’ll soon realize just how much clutter paper documents can be, and with that clutter comes confusion, disorganization, and chaos, all of which lead to less productivity, less streamlining, and more costs.
Paper files require storage, and most of the time, this means having rows upon rows of heavy and bulky filing cabinets. These cabinets can take up a lot of valuable office real estate, thus reducing your operational space and hampering your productivity.
By shifting to paperless, you can get rid of all those bulky cabinets and host all of your digital files on a server. A server might take up a small room, but it will definitely be a fraction of the size of an entire filing cabinet system.
Going paperless also reduces clutter by getting rid of such things as staplers, rubber bands, disposable pens, paper clips, and other small items.
Instant Access to Documents and Files
No matter how organized a paper filing system is, it can still take several minutes to find a particular document, especially if it’s a document that is anything but recent. And that’s IF you have an extremely organized system
But with a paperless business, there’s no need to sort through rows upon rows of filing cabinets, mountains of crumpled up documents, and other obstacles just to find a single piece of invoice. An in-house digital storage system can store warehouses worth of information in a space the size of a refrigerator. Or, if even that is too much space, cloud-based filing systems can be used to store data offsite, leaving your business space free of any filing or storage systems.
What’s great about digital systems is that it’s instantaneous: need a document from a specific day from 1992? No problem! Just input what you need into a computer and it will find it for you. Cloud-based systems take this a step further and gives you access to your data using any device, be it a laptop or a smartphone.
Shifting to a paperless system also means you get to access your customer’s information instantaneously, reducing processing times for clients. By going paperless, and by enrolling with your banks e-banking system, accounting tasks like viewing your account balance or paying bills is also done online, with any and all receipts and documents being sent to a company email.
Free Flow of Information Amongst Employees
In any business, knowledge sharing is a crucial part of ensuring that all aspects of your operations are up to date. This helps departments coordinate with one another and create streamlined processes. However, if key pieces of information are written down on paper, it can be time consuming to get these documents where they need to be.
Luckily, there are numerous digital collaboration tools available for businesses. Not only do they reduce paper use, they also make the transfer of knowledge and information faster and more efficient. This free circulation of data can drastically improve teamwork, thus encouraging growth.
Digital tools also help employees share documents with others across large distances, reducing lead times in processing certain tasks, thereby maximizing the efficiency of your entire business operation.
Streamline Business Responsibilities
Tax responsibilities are an unpleasant task for any business holder, and its made even more of a burden by the fact that filing out tax forms can take up a huge chunk of your day, not to mention add a mountain of paper documents into your office.
However, there are more efficient ways of filing your business taxes. The IRS offers an electronic federal tax payment system, of EFTPS. The EFPTS is free of charge and helps businesses streamline their tax responsibilities by allowing businesses to file their payments online. The EFTPS also has a payment history database, so you don’t have to log it on paper.
Other digital alternatives to business owner responsibilities include an online employer identification number, or EIN. The online EIN is a digital alternative to the paper Form SS-4. When you apply for an EIN online, the process is immediate, whereas if you mail or fax your Form SS-4, it can take days or even weeks for you to receive your necessary tax information.
It’s Great for the Environment
No better reason than this, really!
All in all, going paperless is a great way for businesses to reduce a lot of their overheads, improve office space, and manage documents easily.