Our small business was in a growth rush: 6 new clients. Account opening forms, loaned equipment contracts and credit applications. Suddenly, a client calls in because he has a question on an invoice and a payment he did a month ago.

Joanne stops everything and digs through a file cabinet to find the paperwork to troubleshoot the issue with him. Not there.

35 minutes go by and she still is looking for that paper.

It’s driving me crazy.

My dream of a paperless office contrasted well with the paperwork nightmare on that day.

And that’s the day we went paperless.

Have you ever REALLY considered implementing a paperless office? Have you acted on it? You really should.

Here is a quick Why, What and How you should start your paperless office today:

WHY you should start your Paperless Office today

Because you will save hours a month of searching for documents. Imagine the power of finding an invoice amongst hundreds in less than 20 seconds through the search bar in your Windows or Mac OS. 20 seconds. It takes more than that to walk (or roll if you have that super chair) to the file cabinet.

Bonus why: Because you don’t have to do everything on day one and it is much simpler to implement than you think.

WHAT you should start with for you your Paperless Office

Start with the type of document you handle AND SEARCH the most in a day or week. You don’t need to plan the whole paperless ecosystem. Just start with the highest volume type. It could be invoices or checks you send out or receive, contracts, agreements, etc.  Just start with the “most.”

In our case, our main issue was clients calling in to ask about the very first invoice because it was linked to a free equipment agreement(FEP). On that fateful day, well, the day after, I bought our first scanner, we started scanning all new client’s FEP and invoices. We could handle followup requests instantly.

The important thing is to start with the “most” and you and your team will feel the benefits so quickly, you will want to scan everything else.

HOW your should start your Paperless Office

Here is a simple recipe for setting up:

1- Choose the type of document that you will start your paperless office with.  Start small.

2- Order and setup a double-sided high quality reputable scanner (we use the Fujitsu ix500).

3- Choose where scanned files will be saved on your common drive or Dropbox, Gdrive, OneDrive, etc.

4- Decide on a simple naming convention (We chose “Invoice ####” and “Check ####”)

5- Create a “burn box” where you will store all physical scanned paperwork.

6- Scan, write “S” (for scanned), your initials and scan date and then file that paper away immediately.

7- Rinse, repeat and profit. Well, it will feel like profit when you are in a rush looking for a document and it will take you 20 seconds to find it. Bonus profit: It’s ready to email to your client or partner because it is already scanned.

Ever since we switched to a paperless office, life in the paperwork department has been wonderful, really. We find invoices, checks, even client notes so quickly it is a non-issue for us. When a client calls in upset about some invoice, you will spend your energy handling his concern, not aggravating it by wasting time looking for a piece of paper.

Have you thought of starting a paperless office? Feel free to comment or write to me if you have questions on doing so, I will answer all requests.

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If you liked this article, maybe you will like Sherpa’s Small Business Method we use at Solpak to stay organized in our efforts.  Download it here for free.