I was browsing through my RSS Feeds, and stumbled onto a great post at Small Business Trends: 30 Online Invoicing Apps for Small Business. If you’re starting a small business, many of these online tools can help you get invoices and estimates out to your clients in a timely fashion. The prices are all over the board, from free (via introductory offerings or open-source software) to up to $150 per month. There are definitely a number of options for you.
Other Ways to Go Paperless:
However, running a business involves more than just invoicing clients. Yes, you need to get paid, but there’s also a number of ways to simplify other aspects of your business. I know I’ve barely scratched the surface of all the services out there for going paperless, but here are a few other services well worth a look:
Payroll, Bookkeeping, and Invoicing:
- Freshbooks – A new kid on the block, but a powerhouse at Online Invoicing/Billing and Estimating. You will love how easy this is to use, and it will definitely help you keep your business running smoothly! Freshbooks even allows you the ability to generate snail-mail invoices for your customers that still require paper invoices. Freshbooks is FREE to set-up (and is fully functional) – you’ll only pay to upgrade when you need it.
- Intuit Online Payroll – Make it quick and easy to pay your employees. 30 day FREE trial + lock in the discounted rate of $9.99/month for the first 2 months.
- Quickbooks Online – Pay for what you need, rather than purchasing the full-blown Quickbooks software! Get started easily with online accounting.
- Workingpoint.com – This one is the new kid on the block. Think of it as a combination of bookkeeping software and CRM/contact manager in one. The pricing on this package is fairly attractive, with the first user getting free access forever.
Document and Records Management:
- Intuit MyCorporation – Easily complete business filings (such as LLC or S-Corp) and maintain an always-available registered agent. Get an LLC or Corp for Free!
- BizFilings - Similar to MyCorporation, BizFilings lets you create an LLC or Corp and maintain a registered agent for your small business. Incorporate or Form an LLC.
- Shoeboxed – Easily track your receipts and business cards by mailing them in via pre-paid envelopes, emailing them, or by using your mobile phone. Focus on your business, not the paperwork!
- Pixily - A document management service (similar to Shoeboxed) that allows you to to send in full-size documents for conversion to fully-searchable electronic copies. Find your important documents quickly and easily!
NOTE: According to PricewaterhouseCoopers, businesses spend $20 in labor to file a document, $120 in labor to find a misfiled document, and $220 in labor to reproduce a document. They also stated that 7.5% of all paper documents get lost. This makes a great case for online document management services!
Marketing and Communication:
- Constant Contact - Easily create Email marketing campaigns and surveys which can help you engage your potential and current customers. Try it FREE for 60-Days.
- RingCentral - Voice-over-IP phone provider that also has an electronic fax service. Getting rid of your fax machine is a great start to a paperless office! Try RingCentral Fax FREE for 30 days.
- eFax - Another popular electronic fax service. Try eFax For 30 Days Free.
- Logoworks - Get a logo design that will become the main ingredient for your brand. Logoworks Start Up Package is perfect for new businesses. It includes logo design, stationery design, a 3 page website, & 250 business cards.
Drawbacks to Going Paperless:
In a dream world, you can get your entire office utilizing e-everything (or all-digital this and thats). However, going paperless can be a challenge so I thought I’d give you with a little bit of extra food for thought:
- Paperless generally means “Less Paper”: I read something to this effect in an article one time. Basically, it means that even in a “paperless” office, there will still be an occasional paper document that will float your way (typically from a client or vendor). Make sure you can at least accomodate these one-offs in your office so that you can maintain business relationships with your “paper-ridden” counterparts.
- Backups are Critical: If you’re keeping everything electronically, ensure you have an Offsite Backup! Paperless businesses have an even greater dependence on electronic information. Make sure you are regularly backing up your electronic documents and ensure those backups go off-site. I highly recommend the use of an Online Backup service.
- Buy a nice Monitor: Yes, I just told you straight-up to buy a nice monitor. When you go paperless, it means you’ll be reading and editing all your paperwork on a computer screen. A nice 24″ LCD flat panel will probably help with your sanity.
While the MW2ML business is fairly new and small, you can bet that I plan to make it as paperless as possible. My biggest start to going paperless was my use of Google Apps, and the ability to use Google Docs for all the surveys, forms, and documents I’ve created. I realize that the services I’ve mentioned above are the more common ways to go green, but in all honesty almost anything that you can *think* of can be done digitally. Have you gone “Green” or “Paperless” with any aspects of your business? I welcome comments as to your own personal experience. As always, if you have questions feel free to Contact Me directly!
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