One of the easiest paths to an environmentally friendly business is to go paperless wherever possible. Not only is this a green business move, but it can also help you stay organized, save you money, and position you as a good corporate steward. Read on for these tips from Road Scholar.
Benefits of Going Paperless
According to Totally Paperless, there are numerous benefits of reducing paper product usage in your company. There’s the cost of the paper products and printing and distribution. There’s also the benefit of reducing mailing costs, and the ease of transmitting documents, whether via digital files or downloadable files from your website. It makes it easy to access information instantaneously, and it’s also much easier to update things like product catalogs and specifications, corporate directories, and even billing statements. Also, look into whether your state offers tax rebates for energy-efficiency measures to save you even more!
How to Get Started
It’s important to have buy-in from your employees when you’re first getting started with a paperless system, as it will mean adjustments to operational functions. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, you should help employees understand how the new process will eventually be easier and more streamlined to utilize. Emphasize how they’ll be able to use software for tracking everything from project management to invoices, supplier orders, warehouse inventory, and even HR and payroll matters. Provide in-depth training on any new software programs you implement to make it easier for your staffers.
Making the Transition
When you’re moving from a file system to a paperless one, there are some existing documents you’ll need to manage. Go through all of your storage files and consider scanning and storing what needs to be saved in digital format. Some things you might need to hang on to include non-compete agreements, vendor contracts, employee performance reviews, and related HR paperwork. Anything you don’t need, shred and dispose of properly. If you’re storing financial or proprietary information, you’ll need to have security features on your digital system in the same way you might have had a lock on your metal file cabinet.
Other Ways to Reduce Paper Use
It’s not just forms and files that use paper. You likely have packaging that uses paper as well. While you may not be able to limit paper use entirely, you can look for more sustainable options. For example, encourage customers to bring their own reusable bags, or offer reusable bags yourself; reduce packaging as much as possible, and go entirely package-less where possible. For example, if you’re a coffeehouse, encourage people to bring their own coffee thermoses, and to bring their own canisters when buying bulk grounds or beans. Get creative in your approach! The Green Business Bureau offers eco-friendly options.
Lead by Example
In addition to implementing paperless processes in your company, look for ways to take advantage of other service providers when they offer you paperless options. For example, you can likely receive paperless bank statements, credit card bills, invoices, and manage other functions via electronic transfer. You can also use paperless services. For example, if you’re changing business entities and using a formation service to register as a limited liability company, or LLC, an online service can help reduce paperwork and speed up the process.
More Ways to Go Green
Another green consideration is to adopt electric and solar solutions. Converting some or all of your fleet vehicles to electric, for example, substantially reduces greenhouse gas emissions. Rechargeable trucks are planned to begin replacing some semis in fleets beginning this year.
Once you’re committed to making greener changes to your business, there are plenty of other ways you can protect the environment. One way is to consider your location. A location in a walkable area makes it easier for both your employees and customers to access your business by foot if they so choose. Anything that reduces vehicle traffic makes a big difference.
You can also add solar panels to your business. Though solar panel pricing varies by wattage, they tend to cost around $1.00 per panel watt. As these prices have fallen through the years, solar panels have become an enticing option for reducing energy dependence and business overhead. Once installed, the energy provided by solar panels begins to pay for them immediately.
Going paperless has a lot of practical advantages, but you can also use it as a marketing tool. Let customers know you’re going the paperless route to cut down on paper waste and make transactional processes easier for them.
By: Dean Burgess, Excitepreneur.net