Should your small business go paperless?

It happens to every small business owner at some point; one little piece of paper containing vital information seemingly vanishes out of thin air. You can tear your office apart looking for it, but in the meantime, other business operations will grind to a halt. If you’re tired of going through this rigmarole every time someone misplaces an important document, you’ve probably considered the idea of obtaining technology that will allow your company to go paperless. So, should you do it? In this article, we’ll do our best to answer that question.

Paper Costs

Paper costs represent an often overlooked set of expenses for a small business. Research suggests that an average American worker powers through 10,000 sheets of paper a year, each of which costs a company about $0.03. That means each employee generates $300 in paper costs annually, a completely unnecessary expense for a paperless company.

When considering business technology purchases to replace pen and paper, you might balk at some of the costs involved. If the prices seem high, just remember that $300 per employee fee you pay for paper every year. When you take this into consideration, you’ll quickly conclude that paperless technology pays for itself!

Market Trends

With the proliferation of smartphones and tablets, the modern world already abounds with the technology required to go paperless. So, why not use it? Research suggests that 75% of American employees receive some manner of personal computing device from their employers, with 23% receiving employer-provided smartphones. As time passes, those numbers will only go up.

Here’s the point; if you don’t harness mobile technology to help eliminate your reliance on pen and paper, you risk falling behind your competitors that do. Consider the following example. Of sales reps that use mobile customer relationship management (CRM) tools, 65% report meeting their sales quotas. Of sales reps who don’t use mobile CRM technology, only 22% meet their sales quotas. That’s quite a difference! Don’t limit your business with such a dramatic disadvantage.


Software Options

What exactly does it mean to go paperless? Well, generally, it means adopting business software. The right software can help tie all your business operations together, from accounting to payroll to customer management and beyond. By streamlining these processes with an electronic system, your company can eliminate the need for physical paperwork, along with all the wasted time and effort involved in filling that paperwork out.

Let’s look at the field service industry (HVAC, plumbing, pest control, etc.). Many of these companies rely on field service management software to replace the clipboards and filing cabinets once associated with their trades. By upgrading to digital records and electronic work orders, these companies enhance workforce communication, streamline scheduling, simplify dispatching, and greatly reduce their billing cycle.

Business owners in this sector have made exemplary use of the software products designed explicitly for their industry. While the software they use wouldn’t make sense for a small business in an entirely different industry, entrepreneurs in other fields should follow their example and seek out the software built explicitly for their own niche.

Conclusion

As you can see, the benefits of going paperless far outweigh the concerns associated with the transition. The reduction in paper costs help you recoup the initial investment. If your competitors have already gone paperless, following suit helps you keep pace (and if they haven’t, going paperless gives you an instant leg up). Finally, the technology that empowers you to reduce or eliminate paper usage can also help you out in many other facets of running your business. Considering these factors, going paperless almost certainly represents a great path forward for your company.

Benjamin Yackshaw runs the marketing department for the field service management software company Smart Service. On his own time, Benjamin enjoys basketball, movies, and cats.

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