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Conduct a Paper Audit for Your Business

Tools like SmartTrade let you run your business without using extra paper—if you can send and store invoices and receipts electronically, you're saving money and the environment at the same time. But a single app isn't enough to change how your office works. You need to go further.

If you're looking to cut down on the costs and environmental impact of the day-to-day operations of your business, conducting a paper audit is a great first step. Here's how to get a handle on just how much paper your small business is using.

1. Get everyone on board.

If you're the only person interested in cutting down on paper use in your office, it's going to be hard (unless you're the only employee of your business, in which case it'll be really easy). Let all of your employees know that you want to save money, do something good for the environment, and cut down on the time and effort that it takes to get things done.

2. Conduct a paper count.

Over the course of a week (or three days, if a week seems like overkill), make a note of each piece of paper that you print. Contracts, invoices, copies of receipts, inventory sheets, and anything else that you print, copy, or store should get noted. Everyone in your business should be doing this (it might be helpful to use something like Google Drive to keep everyone's tallies together).

3. Identify areas of potential improvement.

Once you've counted the pieces of paper that you use, you can divide them into areas. You could use internal and external documents as categories, or the type of information that's on the paper, or even where it's printed (or if you received it, and didn't print it). Any type of classification system will show you where you have opportunity to improve. After you've created categories, choose one to work on first.

4. Choose tools to help.

There are all sorts of tools that will help you keep a paperless office. Trello can be used to keep your employees organized. Evernote can help you store and organize important documents. A portable scanner will help you scan receipts so you can bin them before they get to your office. SmartTrade digitizes your invoices and customer receipts.

If you aren't sure which tools will help you, run a quick web search. "Paperless [your item]" will help you find out what's available to make your office more efficient and environmentally friendly.

It Pays to Go Paperless

A completely paperless office is extremely difficult to attain, but becoming mostly paperless (or even just a little more paperless than you are now) can be a big help, not only to your office and employees, but to your bottom line as well. Spend a little time now to save a lot of money down the road!

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