I remember the early days of the internet when people were starting to go “online”. I remember when we would use a 14.4kbps modem and a telephone line to connect. Click the “connect” button and after a few squeals and chirps, your computer was connected to the world. Patience was a virtue, but we were more than happy to wait. So much has changed with technology since then.
Near the end of the 1970’s, the rise of the home computer was thought to bring a paperless society. Now over 35 years later, the use of paper has substantially increased. As more homes and businesses purchased computers and printers, the more people found themselves using paper.
With the rise of technology in the past five or 10 years, it is becoming more and more possible to achieve a paperless workplace. With cloud storage and email, we can easily store and share documents without the use of paper.
Most companies still use cheques as the primary method of payment. Yesterday, I visited a client to drop off a batch printed flyers. I left the bill with them expecting that I would receive a cheque in the mail in a few weeks. In less than an 30 minutes I received a Interac Email Transfer, and the money was deposited into my account instantly. Now that’s what I am talking about!
Most people are hesitant to change, but some readily embrace it. The most important thing I learned from my father in regards to bookkeeping is having a good “paper trail”. He always kept meticulous books and was a well-organized business man. Having learned from him, I too have become organized in my bookkeeping methods. When I receive a cheque or cash from a client, I use my smart phone and snap a photo. When entering my transactions, I would print a copy of that photo to attach to the paid invoice, thus keeping a paper trail.
In the passed couple months, I have noticed an additional $3/month charge to my bank account. It came to my attention that the bank is now charging for paper statements. Though it may look like they are “helping the environment” the $3/month charge is a great was for the bank to earn more money. If the bank doesn’t send out a statement, I still print one from my online banking, thus using more paper because my printer doesn’t print double-sided! It’s time to move toward an electronic paper trail.
It’s time to start scanning more and saving files as pdfs (Portable Document Format) instead of printing and filing. Below are some ways that will help your business move toward a paperless office:
- Pay bills online whenever possible, including Government payroll and taxes. This will save money on envelopes, stamps and cheques. Most banks charge a very nominal fee if anything for the service.
- Email invoices, statements & estimates. This is quicker than standard mail and once again, FREE.
- Receive/send payments via online payment methods. Interac Email Transfers can be sent for amounts up to $1000 and fees associated are very low cost and even free through some banks. Credit card payments are always an option, but can be pricy when it comes to processing fees. PayPal is also another option though their processing fees are similar to credit cards.
- Paperless billing. Choose to go paperless with those who provide services to your company (eg. internet, phone, electricity, etc). Many companies will send out an e-bill notification or monthly statement to your email. It’s only a matter of time, if it hasn’t already happened, that companies and banks will begin charging for paper statements that are mailed out.
- Avoid paper filing. Rather than printing out transactions, invoices, estimates, bill payment stubs, etc., save them in PDF format in a folder on your computer for that client or vendor.
- Pay employees electronically. This is a fairly easy process to automate and can save the hassle of writing out cheques and can be deposited into the employees account without them having to go to the bank. Save pay stubs in digital format on your computer in a folder for that employee.
- Share electronic files. Don’t click print when you can click the “share” button. Electronic documents can easily be shared through an office network, software like Dropbox or a cloud solution.
- Electronic faxes. Faxing with paper documents is becoming a thing of the past. For years, faxing has been possible from computer to fax and vice versa. Electronic fillable pdf documents with electronic signatures have replaced the need for an office fax machine and a separate phone line. There is also the option of scanning and emailing those important documents.
We hope that this has given you some ideas where you can help the environment and more importantly, SAVE MONEY! If you have any other ideas, we’d love to hear them. Comment below and share your thoughts.