As a consultant who advises clients on their technology strategy, I have worked with several small businesses that are not tech savvy to a large extent. My performance is rated based on how much money I bring or help them save through my recommendations. Do you know the one recommendation that always brings about the maximum savings? It’s asking these businesses to “go paperless”. It is seriously a recommendation, that saves some of my clients over $100,000 every year.
Paper is without doubt your startup’s biggest enemy. It is not only a component of business that requires recurring expenditure month on month, but is also the biggest impediment to improving your business productivity.
Here are some reasons why you should go paperless:
Signing contracts and archiving them for legal purposes is a routine task that happens in every business. Every time a contract is formalized, the documents are printed and shipped to the authorized parties for signing. This costs around $30 per contract on an average (Source: http://www.silanis.com ). This is without considering the printing costs and the cost of resources needed to store documents. Businesses that engage in partnerships with multiple parties could potentially save a thousands of dollars by moving this contract signing proces online. With the advent of electronic signatures, the cost of signing and archiving documents can be reduced by as much as 90%.
The process of printing and shipping documents is not only an impediment on the revenues of a business but also in efficiency. By replacing paper documents with their digital alternatives, it becomes simpler to email these documents as attachments. Consequently, discussions that take days to be deliberated and finalized can be resolved in a matter of hours. As a matter of fact, with tools like video conferencing, teams may resolve issues in minutes.
Corporate Social Responsibility & Saving Money On Tax:
Most enterprises carry out Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in order to generate good-will and positive PR. However, in some countries like India, CSR is a legal responsibility for businesses. It is a well known fact that paper is a drain on the environment. Going paperless thus helps your business become more environment-friendly. This can in turn be tagged as a CSR initiative. Doing so could also help your business save tax since investments on CSR initiatives are exempted from tax.
Paper based documents are easily damaged or destroyed. Also, it is quite expensive to have sophisticated backup for important documents. An alternate digital backup and storage strategy is not only cost efficient but also extremely secure.
A lot of businesses I have worked with are not averse to technology. However, most of them continue to use paper out of habit. Also, to a lot of these businesses, technology infrastructure is an investment that needs to be built bottom-up and at a bootstrapped phase, it is not something they can afford.
It is pretty vital for businesses to become aware of the benefits of going paperless. A professional DropBox service to store all your data and document online costs just $10 per month. An electronic signature plan costs as less as $15 per month. Shipping documents online through Google Apps or email is mostly free. It is not difficult to see how much money a business can possibly save by going paperless.
How much paper do you use in your company? Are you completely paperless yet? Tell us in the comments.