|By An Bui||
|June 26, 2014 08:01 AM EDT||
8 Tips for Going Paperless In Your Small Business
Ray Coleman is a small business owner who writes about money management, green living, and sustainability.
One of the great benefits of the modern age is the ability of small businesses to conduct a majority of their operations in the digital realm. Eliminating the need for bulky file cabinets, storage facilities, photocopiers, printers, and scanners can reduce overhead dramatically. Replacing costly courier services with emails, and swapping out newsletters and solicitations for social media and web-based marketing programs means serious cost savings, as well.
Essentially, all of this comes down to replacing paper with pixels. By taking your business green, you're not only helping the environment, you're freeing up a ton of working capital for your venture – and often creating a better and preferred experience for your customers, partners, suppliers, and employees. For some very effective strategies to help take your small business paperless, read on.
1. Use Google Apps For Business
The suite of apps offered by Google can help small businesses cut down on the amount of paper documents they need. Use Google Mail and Chat to communicate online with your staff and clients. Collaborate electronically on projects via Google Docs - its word processing and spreadsheet functions can be contributed to and saved by multiple members of a group. For non-Google Docs files, share them through Google Drive. Insist that your staff work solely off their devices and you can cut back significantly on the wasteful use of paper.
2. Switch to Electronic Payroll and Accounting
Reduce the number of paper invoices and checks your business sends out by taking your payroll and accounting needs online with the FreshBooks website. It's a cloud-based accounting solution designed specifically for small business owners that allows you to create invoices and track expenses and hours worked all with an intuitive software interface and solid customer support. Freshbooks offers mobile apps as well, so you can handle all of your accounting responsibilities on your tablet or smartphone if you happen to be on the go.
3. Cut Down on Faxed Documents
If clients or other businesses you work with still fax documents, sign up for a service that converts incoming faxes to email messages. Two companies to consider are MetroFax and MyFax. If you have to fax a document to another party, convert it into PDF form and send it through one of these services so that your recipient receives it in fax form on the other end.
4. Choose the Right Cloud Platform
When you go paperless you're going to need a cloud-based platform to store your documents, and when deciding on the right one always keep security in mind. There have been several notable security breaches involving cloud-based storage platforms, including an incident with one of the market leaders, Dropbox. Two additional and advantageous document storage websites with high security ratings are JustCloud and SugarSync.
5. 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. Send out email newsletters and offers, and stay on top of all your social media pages, including Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram using a tool like HootSuite, which streamlines all feeds and keeps you in sync with your social communities. According to an IDC research report sponsored by Facebook, 18 to 44-year-olds who own an iPhone or Android check Facebook an average of 14 times per day. That pales in comparison to the one time per day most of us check the post box.
6. Mobilize Your Paperless Strategy
When searching for ways to maximize your paperless activity, put your smartphone to use. To keep track of your expenses, use the Shoeboxed or Exepnsify apps to snap pictures of receipts and track business-related spending. You can also use the DocuSign app for signing and sending important documents for signature, instead of going through the process of printing, signing, scanning, faxing and emailing. Its high, enterprise-level security protocols make it the most attractive candidate in the eSignature industry.
7. Get Electronic Receipts For Office Supply Purchases
The next time you head out to Office Depot or Office Max 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.
8. Reduce Junk Mail
The website DirectMail allows you to sign up for its National Do Not Mail List. Fill out the form, including your small business's address, and you can significantly reduce the amount of junk mail you receive. This cuts down on waste and frees up more time for you to take care of what's really important.
Going paperless may make you feel a bit more vulnerable, knowing there are no hard-copy backups of what you've stored in the cloud. If that's the case, 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. This way you've got multiple means of protection should you suffer a computer crash or one of your cloud servers go down.
Fortunately, vulnerability is becoming a thing of the past for many individuals and small business with the strength and rapid evolution of cloud based businesses.
What tips do you know of for a small business wanting to go paperless?
This is not a small hotel event. It is also not a big vendor party where politicians and entertainers are more important than real content. This is Cloud Expo, the world's longest-running conference and exhibition focused on Cloud Computing and all that it entails. If you want serious presentations and valuable insight about Cloud Computing for three straight days, then register now for Cloud Expo.
Apr. 29, 2016 03:30 PM EDT Reads: 1,637
You think you know what’s in your data. But do you? Most organizations are now aware of the business intelligence represented by their data. Data science stands to take this to a level you never thought of – literally. The techniques of data science, when used with the capabilities of Big Data technologies, can make connections you had not yet imagined, helping you discover new insights and ask new questions of your data. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Sarbjit Sarkaria, data science team lead ...
Apr. 29, 2016 03:07 PM EDT
So, you bought into the current machine learning craze and went on to collect millions/billions of records from this promising new data source. Now, what do you do with them? Too often, the abundance of data quickly turns into an abundance of problems. How do you extract that "magic essence" from your data without falling into the common pitfalls? In her session at @ThingsExpo, Natalia Ponomareva, Software Engineer at Google, will provide tips on how to be successful in large scale machine lear...
Apr. 29, 2016 02:45 PM EDT Reads: 782
IoT device adoption is growing at staggering rates, and with it comes opportunity for developers to meet consumer demand for an ever more connected world. Wireless communication is the key part of the encompassing components of any IoT device. Wireless connectivity enhances the device utility at the expense of ease of use and deployment challenges. Since connectivity is fundamental for IoT device development, engineers must understand how to overcome the hurdles inherent in incorporating multipl...
Apr. 29, 2016 02:30 PM EDT Reads: 1,387
The IETF draft standard for M2M certificates is a security solution specifically designed for the demanding needs of IoT/M2M applications. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Brian Romansky, VP of Strategic Technology at TrustPoint Innovation, will explain how M2M certificates can efficiently enable confidentiality, integrity, and authenticity on highly constrained devices.
Apr. 29, 2016 02:00 PM EDT Reads: 961
The paradigm has shifted. A Gartner survey shows that 43% of organizations are using or plan to implement the Internet of Things in 2016. However, not just a handful of companies are still using the old-style ad-hoc trial-and-error ways, unaware of the critical barriers, paint points, traps, and hidden roadblocks. How can you become a winner? In his session at @ThingsExpo, Tony Shan will present a methodical approach to guide the holistic adoption and enablement of IoT implementations. This ov...
Apr. 29, 2016 02:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,520
We’ve worked with dozens of early adopters across numerous industries and will debunk common misperceptions, which starts with understanding that many of the connected products we’ll use over the next 5 years are already products, they’re just not yet connected. With an IoT product, time-in-market provides much more essential feedback than ever before. Innovation comes from what you do with the data that the connected product provides in order to enhance the customer experience and optimize busi...
Apr. 29, 2016 02:00 PM EDT Reads: 812
Artificial Intelligence has the potential to massively disrupt IoT. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, AJ Abdallat, CEO of Beyond AI, will discuss what the five main drivers are in Artificial Intelligence that could shape the future of the Internet of Things. AJ Abdallat is CEO of Beyond AI. He has over 20 years of management experience in the fields of artificial intelligence, sensors, instruments, devices and software for telecommunications, life sciences, environmental monitoring, process...
Apr. 29, 2016 01:30 PM EDT Reads: 763
SYS-CON Events announced today that Ericsson has been named “Gold Sponsor” of SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York, New York. Ericsson is a world leader in the rapidly changing environment of communications technology – providing equipment, software and services to enable transformation through mobility. Some 40 percent of global mobile traffic runs through networks we have supplied. More than 1 billion subscribers around the world re...
Apr. 29, 2016 01:00 PM EDT Reads: 727
SYS-CON Events announced today that Stratoscale, the software company developing the next generation data center operating system, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Stratoscale is revolutionizing the data center with a zero-to-cloud-in-minutes solution. With Stratoscale’s hardware-agnostic, Software Defined Data Center (SDDC) solution to store everything, run anything and scale everywhere...
Apr. 29, 2016 01:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,474
Angular 2 is a complete re-write of the popular framework AngularJS. Programming in Angular 2 is greatly simplified – now it's a component-based well-performing framework. This immersive one-day workshop at 18th Cloud Expo, led by Yakov Fain, a Java Champion and a co-founder of the IT consultancy Farata Systems and the product company SuranceBay, will provide you with everything you wanted to know about Angular 2.
Apr. 29, 2016 12:30 PM EDT Reads: 1,623
SYS-CON Events announced today that Men & Mice, the leading global provider of DNS, DHCP and IP address management overlay solutions, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. The Men & Mice Suite overlay solution is already known for its powerful application in heterogeneous operating environments, enabling enterprises to scale without fuss. Building on a solid range of diverse platform support,...
Apr. 29, 2016 11:45 AM EDT Reads: 2,207
In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Klein, CEO and Co-founder of Rachio, will discuss next generation communities that are using IoT to create more sustainable, intelligent communities. One example is Sterling Ranch, a 10,000 home development that – with the help of Siemens – will integrate IoT technology into the community to provide residents with energy and water savings as well as intelligent security. Everything from stop lights to sprinkler systems to building infrastructures will run ef...
Apr. 29, 2016 11:30 AM EDT Reads: 464
You deployed your app with the Bluemix PaaS and it's gaining some serious traction, so it's time to make some tweaks. Did you design your application in a way that it can scale in the cloud? Were you even thinking about the cloud when you built the app? If not, chances are your app is going to break. Check out this webcast to learn various techniques for designing applications that will scale successfully in Bluemix, for the confidence you need to take your apps to the next level and beyond.
Apr. 29, 2016 11:15 AM EDT Reads: 1,406
Manufacturers are embracing the Industrial Internet the same way consumers are leveraging Fitbits – to improve overall health and wellness. Both can provide consistent measurement, visibility, and suggest performance improvements customized to help reach goals. Fitbit users can view real-time data and make adjustments to increase their activity. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Mark Bernardo Professional Services Leader, Americas, at GE Digital, will discuss how leveraging the Industrial Interne...
Apr. 29, 2016 10:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,103
Whether your IoT service is connecting cars, homes, appliances, wearable, cameras or other devices, one question hangs in the balance – how do you actually make money from this service? The ability to turn your IoT service into profit requires the ability to create a monetization strategy that is flexible, scalable and working for you in real-time. It must be a transparent, smoothly implemented strategy that all stakeholders – from customers to the board – will be able to understand and comprehe...
Apr. 29, 2016 09:30 AM EDT Reads: 979
Increasing IoT connectivity is forcing enterprises to find elegant solutions to organize and visualize all incoming data from these connected devices with re-configurable dashboard widgets to effectively allow rapid decision-making for everything from immediate actions in tactical situations to strategic analysis and reporting. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Shikhir Singh, Senior Developer Relations Manager at Sencha, will discuss how to create HTML5 dashboards that interact with IoT devic...
Apr. 29, 2016 09:00 AM EDT Reads: 825
The increasing popularity of the Internet of Things necessitates that our physical and cognitive relationship with wearable technology will change rapidly in the near future. This advent means logging has become a thing of the past. Before, it was on us to track our own data, but now that data is automatically available. What does this mean for mHealth and the "connected" body? In her session at @ThingsExpo, Lisa Calkins, CEO and co-founder of Amadeus Consulting, will discuss the impact of wea...
Apr. 29, 2016 08:45 AM EDT Reads: 589
There is an ever-growing explosion of new devices that are connected to the Internet using “cloud” solutions. This rapid growth is creating a massive new demand for efficient access to data. And it’s not just about connecting to that data anymore. This new demand is bringing new issues and challenges and it is important for companies to scale for the coming growth. And with that scaling comes the need for greater security, gathering and data analysis, storage, connectivity and, of course, the...
Apr. 29, 2016 08:45 AM EDT Reads: 601
Digital payments using wearable devices such as smart watches, fitness trackers, and payment wristbands are an increasing area of focus for industry participants, and consumer acceptance from early trials and deployments has encouraged some of the biggest names in technology and banking to continue their push to drive growth in this nascent market. Wearable payment systems may utilize near field communication (NFC), radio frequency identification (RFID), or quick response (QR) codes and barcodes...
Apr. 29, 2016 08:30 AM EDT Reads: 588