Paperwork is a necessary evil for any small business owner. It’s time-consuming and often tedious, but it’s something you have to do to keep your company running smoothly. However, there are ways that you can make the process much easier on yourself!
The five suggestions below will help reduce paperwork in your small business so that you spend less of your time shuffling paper and more time running your business.
1) Change the way you and your staff think about client files
Some small businesses generate huge amounts of paperwork because they are stuck in the mindset that a “client file” is a manila folder stuffed with documents. This is the kind of thinking that drives some employees to print out copies of emails so they can “put it in the client file.”
Train your staff (and yourself) to reverse that thinking. Instead of making hard copies of digital documents, look for ways to eliminate paper and store everything in easily searchable computer files — and make sure those files are backed up.
This will not only save time and trees, but it will also allow you to have everything at your fingertips (literally) when needed.
2) Go Paperless
Request paperless billing and statements from vendors, utility companies, and banks. You’ll be able to view your statements, bills, and history online whenever you want, and you’ll love receiving less mail.
While you’re opting into paperless accounts, set your bills up on autopay. You’ll only eliminate a whole pile of paper from your desk, save time paying bills each month, and never worry about paying a late fee again.
3) Try to handle each piece of paper only once
Instead of shuffling papers from pile to pile, try to handle each piece of paper only once. Reviewing your papers in one sitting will allow you to make decisions more quickly about what needs immediate attention and how long you can wait on the others.
- Pay bills the moment they arrive.
- If a document requires a phone call, dial while the paper is still in your hand.
- If a piece of paper needs action, note the information you’ll need in your planner and discard the paper.
- If you’re going to delegate something, hand the paper off immediately along with the task.
- If you’re tempted to file the paper, ask yourself if there’s a way to create an electronic note in your system instead.
This will make your desk much less cluttered and help you organize your thoughts about what needs immediate attention and what tasks can wait a while.
4) Automate your operations
Most people think of automation only in terms of large businesses, but there are many ways a small business owner can use technology to save time and reduce paperwork.
- Send automated e-mails when someone signs up for your newsletter, books a service, or completes their payment
- Set up bookkeeping apps like Quickbooks to automatically import transactions
- Set bills on automatic payment
- Create templates for recurring tasks like onboarding new clients or training staff
- Set clients up with automatically recurring services and billing
Look for all-in-one software that’s designed especially for your type of business. For example, if you’re in a field service business, like a pest control or cleaning service that sends workers onsite to complete tasks, ServiceWorks can do everything for your office. You’ll have a complete system to manage appointments, book time, and generate invoices with automatically recurring payments.
You don’t need to spend hours worrying about tracking down paperwork and making sure it’s been sent out. ServiceWorks handles all the details, so you never miss an invoice or payment again.
5) Integrate your systems
One of the advantages of an all-in-one software solution is that all your files, transactions, records, and functions are in one place. You don’t need separate systems for scheduling, servicing, billing, recording, and following up on the same client visit.
However, you’ll always need specialized apps for things like accounting and payroll. The more your apps can talk to each other, the less paper you’ll have to shuffle around.
For example, ServiceWorks can integrate with Quickbooks, so your customer transactions and the materials your staff orders in the field automatically go into your accounting system.
Zapier is a service that can integrate with many other apps and programs, making it extremely easy to send SMS notifications and trigger actions or alerts from various sources. You can create your own “Zaps” with Zapier to eliminate lots of repetitive tasks.
The Final Word
We hope these tips will help make life easier for you by reducing some of the day-to-day paperwork associated with operating a small business!
Why not give ServiceWorks a free 14-day test drive? (no credit card required!) We can take over many of your back-office tasks so that you have more time to focus on what matters most – running your business.