Imagine if your bookkeeping was already organized. Then it wouldn’t be a big job when it comes time to file taxes or produce reports.
There are four areas you need to tackle to successfully go paperless:
The objective is to set up so that you can always find things quickly. One key piece of advice is to use a cloud-based storage system. Dropbox is one great example but there’s also Google Drive, Microsoft’s One Drive and more. Reasons to choose cloud-based rather than local computer storage include:
- Search functions and security are better in the cloud than they are when locally-based.
- Automatic backups in the cloud mean you don’t lose anything from virus attacks, crashes or theft.
- You’re not using your computer’s memory, and no matter how much you have filed on the cloud, it will not slow you down.
- It offers the ultimate in flexibility, giving you access from anywhere, anytime.
Once you have your cloud-based system chosen, and have set up separate personal and business bank accounts, the next step is to organize your electronic folder structure to mirror a well-setup physical filing cabinet.
- Create separate folders for each bank account and credit card associated with your business. (If you don’t have a business credit card, consider getting one that you use only for business purchases. It could be a separate card or an additional card on the same account. The purpose is to be sure you can completely separate business and personal expenditures.)
- Within each account folder, create sub-folders for each monthly statement.
- Inside that monthly folder, save receipts for all purchases made that month using that account and the statement for that month.
The behaviour that will really put the cherry on top of your new approach is to adopt a touch-it-once philosophy. When mail arrives, it gets scanned and saved in the appropriate folder right away. A few minutes each day will save you days of work at month end.
There’s not really any need for cash in most businesses today. Sure, if your business is a pizza delivery service, you’ll want to accept payment in cash. But to pay the business bills, track expenses, invoice customers and budget? Not needed. Go digital. Paying with a bank or credit card rather than cash means fewer manual entries when you reconcile your expenses.
And go mobile. Businesses today are expected to enable anytime, anywhere payment methods. It’s a clear benefit for customers and you. The result is less paperwork, more time building your business and generating sales.
Make it easy for customers to pay
Complement your digital move to mobile by making it easy for your customers to pay. Yes, credit card fees can be outrageous, but the easier you make it for people to pay you the fewer barriers there are to doing business with you.
Use today’s technology tools and watch what happens when you’re not buried in paperwork. The world is your oyster when you’re digitally organized.
Between them, Boni and John Wagner-Stafford have five decades of experience as entrepreneurs and/or providing consulting services to other small businesses across Canada. Boni and Joni are the authors of Rock Your Business: 26 Essential Lessons to Plan, Run, and Grow Your New Business From the Ground Up.