|By Mat Rider||
|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?
Who are you? How do you introduce yourself? Do you use a name, or do you greet a friend by the last four digits of his social security number? Assuming you don’t, why are we content to associate our identity with 10 random digits assigned by our phone company? Identity is an issue that affects everyone, but as individuals we don’t spend a lot of time thinking about it. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Ben Klang, Founder & President of Mojo Lingo, discussed the impact of technology on identity. Sho...
Jan. 18, 2017 03:45 AM EST Reads: 3,993
Technology vendors and analysts are eager to paint a rosy picture of how wonderful IoT is and why your deployment will be great with the use of their products and services. While it is easy to showcase successful IoT solutions, identifying IoT systems that missed the mark or failed can often provide more in the way of key lessons learned. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Peter Vanderminden, Principal Industry Analyst for IoT & Digital Supply Chain to Flatiron Strategies, will focus on how IoT depl...
Jan. 18, 2017 02:30 AM EST Reads: 1,820
Data is an unusual currency; it is not restricted by the same transactional limitations as money or people. In fact, the more that you leverage your data across multiple business use cases, the more valuable it becomes to the organization. And the same can be said about the organization’s analytics. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Bill Schmarzo, CTO for the Big Data Practice at Dell EMC, introduced a methodology for capturing, enriching and sharing data (and analytics) across the organization...
Jan. 18, 2017 02:15 AM EST Reads: 3,215
With all the incredible momentum behind the Internet of Things (IoT) industry, it is easy to forget that not a single CEO wakes up and wonders if “my IoT is broken.” What they wonder is if they are making the right decisions to do all they can to increase revenue, decrease costs, and improve customer experience – effectively the same challenges they have always had in growing their business. The exciting thing about the IoT industry is now these decisions can be better, faster, and smarter. Now ...
Jan. 18, 2017 01:30 AM EST Reads: 4,202
WebRTC is about the data channel as much as about video and audio conferencing. However, basically all commercial WebRTC applications have been built with a focus on audio and video. The handling of “data” has been limited to text chat and file download – all other data sharing seems to end with screensharing. What is holding back a more intensive use of peer-to-peer data? In her session at @ThingsExpo, Dr Silvia Pfeiffer, WebRTC Applications Team Lead at National ICT Australia, looked at differ...
Jan. 18, 2017 01:15 AM EST Reads: 4,890
The cloud market growth today is largely in public clouds. While there is a lot of spend in IT departments in virtualization, these aren’t yet translating into a true “cloud” experience within the enterprise. What is stopping the growth of the “private cloud” market? In his general session at 18th Cloud Expo, Nara Rajagopalan, CEO of Accelerite, explored the challenges in deploying, managing, and getting adoption for a private cloud within an enterprise. What are the key differences between wh...
Jan. 18, 2017 01:00 AM EST Reads: 6,045
"ReadyTalk is an audio and web video conferencing provider. We've really come to embrace WebRTC as the platform for our future of technology," explained Dan Cunningham, CTO of ReadyTalk, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at WebRTC Summit at 19th Cloud Expo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Jan. 18, 2017 12:00 AM EST Reads: 2,259
In 2014, Amazon announced a new form of compute called Lambda. We didn't know it at the time, but this represented a fundamental shift in what we expect from cloud computing. Now, all of the major cloud computing vendors want to take part in this disruptive technology. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, John Jelinek IV, a web developer at Linux Academy, will discuss why major players like AWS, Microsoft Azure, IBM Bluemix, and Google Cloud Platform are all trying to sidestep VMs and containers...
Jan. 17, 2017 11:00 PM EST Reads: 637
IoT is at the core or many Digital Transformation initiatives with the goal of re-inventing a company's business model. We all agree that collecting relevant IoT data will result in massive amounts of data needing to be stored. However, with the rapid development of IoT devices and ongoing business model transformation, we are not able to predict the volume and growth of IoT data. And with the lack of IoT history, traditional methods of IT and infrastructure planning based on the past do not app...
Jan. 17, 2017 10:30 PM EST Reads: 748
The many IoT deployments around the world are busy integrating smart devices and sensors into their enterprise IT infrastructures. Yet all of this technology – and there are an amazing number of choices – is of no use without the software to gather, communicate, and analyze the new data flows. Without software, there is no IT. In this power panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, Dave McCarthy, Director of Products at Bsquare Corporation; Alan Williamson, Principal ...
Jan. 17, 2017 10:30 PM EST Reads: 2,373
WebRTC has had a real tough three or four years, and so have those working with it. Only a few short years ago, the development world were excited about WebRTC and proclaiming how awesome it was. You might have played with the technology a couple of years ago, only to find the extra infrastructure requirements were painful to implement and poorly documented. This probably left a bitter taste in your mouth, especially when things went wrong.
Jan. 17, 2017 09:15 PM EST Reads: 7,566
SYS-CON Media announced today that @WebRTCSummit Blog, the largest WebRTC resource in the world, has been launched. @WebRTCSummit Blog offers top articles, news stories, and blog posts from the world's well-known experts and guarantees better exposure for its authors than any other publication. @WebRTCSummit Blog can be bookmarked ▸ Here @WebRTCSummit conference site can be bookmarked ▸ Here
Jan. 17, 2017 08:00 PM EST Reads: 11,649
A critical component of any IoT project is what to do with all the data being generated. This data needs to be captured, processed, structured, and stored in a way to facilitate different kinds of queries. Traditional data warehouse and analytical systems are mature technologies that can be used to handle certain kinds of queries, but they are not always well suited to many problems, particularly when there is a need for real-time insights.
Jan. 17, 2017 06:45 PM EST Reads: 6,232
Providing secure, mobile access to sensitive data sets is a critical element in realizing the full potential of cloud computing. However, large data caches remain inaccessible to edge devices for reasons of security, size, format or limited viewing capabilities. Medical imaging, computer aided design and seismic interpretation are just a few examples of industries facing this challenge. Rather than fighting for incremental gains by pulling these datasets to edge devices, we need to embrace the i...
Jan. 17, 2017 05:15 PM EST Reads: 3,573
Web Real-Time Communication APIs have quickly revolutionized what browsers are capable of. In addition to video and audio streams, we can now bi-directionally send arbitrary data over WebRTC's PeerConnection Data Channels. With the advent of Progressive Web Apps and new hardware APIs such as WebBluetooh and WebUSB, we can finally enable users to stitch together the Internet of Things directly from their browsers while communicating privately and securely in a decentralized way.
Jan. 17, 2017 04:45 PM EST Reads: 3,057
Fifty billion connected devices and still no winning protocols standards. HTTP, WebSockets, MQTT, and CoAP seem to be leading in the IoT protocol race at the moment but many more protocols are getting introduced on a regular basis. Each protocol has its pros and cons depending on the nature of the communications. Does there really need to be only one protocol to rule them all? Of course not. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Matthieu, co-founder and CTO of Octoblu, walked through how Octob...
Jan. 17, 2017 04:30 PM EST Reads: 2,911
The Internet of Things can drive efficiency for airlines and airports. In their session at @ThingsExpo, Shyam Varan Nath, Principal Architect with GE, and Sudip Majumder, senior director of development at Oracle, discussed the technical details of the connected airline baggage and related social media solutions. These IoT applications will enhance travelers' journey experience and drive efficiency for the airlines and the airports.
Jan. 17, 2017 04:15 PM EST Reads: 1,992
SYS-CON Events announced today that Catchpoint, a leading digital experience intelligence company, has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Catchpoint Systems is a leading Digital Performance Analytics company that provides unparalleled insight into your customer-critical services to help you consistently deliver an amazing customer experience. Designed for digital business, C...
Jan. 17, 2017 02:30 PM EST Reads: 1,749
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing IoT strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @ThingsExpo 2016 in New York. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is as "IoT-Ready" as it can be! Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, New York, is co-located with 20th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry p...
Jan. 17, 2017 02:15 PM EST Reads: 3,644
In his General Session at 17th Cloud Expo, Bruce Swann, Senior Product Marketing Manager for Adobe Campaign, explored the key ingredients of cross-channel marketing in a digital world. Learn how the Adobe Marketing Cloud can help marketers embrace opportunities for personalized, relevant and real-time customer engagement across offline (direct mail, point of sale, call center) and digital (email, website, SMS, mobile apps, social networks, connected objects).
Jan. 17, 2017 02:00 PM EST Reads: 5,384