Environmental initiatives are back in the limelight as the U.S. withdraws from the Paris climate accord. Among those paying close attention are small business owners. An estimated 51 percent of small business owners have actively tried to go greener since 2016, with many more wanting to follow suit. Despite the desire to reduce their carbon footprints, some small business owners hesitate to switch because they believe it’s expensive to incorporate green initiatives and are fearful the changes may cause operational burdens.
The reality is in today’s digital world, virtually nothing requires paper. Not only can technology replace paper, but it often does the job better, cheaper and faster –
allowing you and your employees to spend more time growing the business.
1. Digitize the payments process – stop using paper transactions.
As many already know, payments, receipts, invoices and bookkeeping can be done electronically.
What you may not know is more than 250 million gallons of oil, 10 million trees and 1 billion gallons of water are consumed each year to create receipts in the US, generating 1.5 billion pounds of waste. Cutting back on 55,000 receipts can spare an entire tree. And that’s just receipts.
Paper checks are yet another significant source of waste – with small businesses being the major source of this medium of issuing payments. NACHA – The Electronic Payments Association found that small businesses accounted for nearly 50 percent of all paper check use in the U.S.
With small businesses making up more than 99 percent of all U.S. business, the environmental impact could be very significant if the small business community joined forces in going paperless by accepting mobile payments, generating digital receipts/invoices, inputting bookkeeping data online, and making all business-related payments electronically. Not to mention, the convenience of e-payments for you and your customers.
2. Store documents electronically – filing cabinets are a thing of the past.
The average U.S. business uses thousands of pounds of paper each year for business documents, and this can climb into the millions based on industry and size.
Not only does paper – and its storage – take up space, but filing paperwork and searching for documents can cost businesses countless hours in lost productivity. Not to mention the human error component – paper can get lost. PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) found that one lost document can cost businesses more than $120, and nearly 8 percent of all documents are lost permanently.
Digital storage lets you to search for files quickly and efficiently rather than rummaging through filing cabinets. It also allows for multiple points of access and, perhaps most importantly, it ensures your documents are saved forever. Statistics show an estimated 70 percent of businesses would fail within three weeks if they suffered a major loss of paper-based records – whether it be from flood, fire or theft. By leveraging a secure digital storage platform for your files, you can be confident your business is protected.
3. Communicate and transfer files digitally – technology has replaced snail mail.
If you’ve already switched to digital payments, you know the ease of not writing and sending paper checks. And as most of us already rely on email and social platforms to correspond with employees, clients and vendors, using a managed file transfer (MFT) software program to transfer sensitive documents is the next step in digital communication. The days of worrying about a check or document getting lost in the mail are behind you!
Communicating and sharing documents electronically has many additional benefits such as increased collaboration as team members and clients easily edit documents and provide feedback in real-time, no matter where they are geographically. It also helps with clarity – gone are the days of smudged ink or illegible handwriting, all feedback is clear and easy to read.
Going paperless not only reduces your carbon footprint, but it can also yield substantial bottom-line benefits for your business. The federal government even offers tax incentives for “going green.” By streamlining daily processes, green initiatives allow you to get the job done quicker, cheaper and easier. Additionally, paperless processes afford you and your employees the flexibility to conduct business on-the-go.