Money Matters

6 tips for running a zero-paperwork business

Two women sitting across from each other one smiling

Business on mobile is a boom industry: in the first quarter of 2021, the Amazon Appstore showed a 108.98% increase in business apps. By comparison, the second biggest-growing app category—social networking—grew by just 6.86% in the same period.

As mentioned above, you can do your business accounting using an app. It’s important to realise what this means. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you do little bits of your accounting via the app, but still do most of it using a desktop computer.

Of course, you can still do that if you want.

But a mobile app means that you can do all the majority of your accounting using a mobile app: Viewing your profit and loss, issuing invoices via email, reconciling payments, and more. And you can do this anywhere. On the bus or in a taxi. In a café.

The work that would once have taken a back office full of staff can now be done by you, in the spare moments between jobs.

It gets even better if the accounting app is partnered with another app like AutoEntry. This lets you take pictures of business docs like receipts, using the phone’s camera, and then automatically import the data. Added-in artificial intelligence means the data is automatically added-in to where it needs to go.

The receipt can then be thrown away!

But all this is not just about making life easier.

Because the financial data is inputted into your system there and then, you get a real-time view of your finances. You always know how much money you have right now—how much you’re owed and how much you owe. This makes for infinitely better business decision making because you can be responsive to opportunities and also spot problems arising in the future (e.g. late payments).

Six ways to get organised—and reduce paperwork

Here are some more tips to avoid paperwork and boring admin in your business life – and reap the rewards of better organisation.

  1. Get a card reader: If your work involves 1:1 contact with the customer or client, using a card machine means you can collect payment there and then. This aids cashflow and avoids having to chase clients for the money. But it also reduces the paperwork mountain because, while you’ll still need to issue an invoice and receipt, those two tasks can all be handled in the same process as accepting payment by your payment provider, and are usually done electronically direct to an email address or mobile number (via text message).
  2. Use a pay now button in invoices: Similar to using a card reader, if you issue invoices electronically then modern accounting apps let you include a button that lets people pay online. At the very least this might save bouncing paperwork back and forth chasing up payments. Modern accounting software even includes invoice tracking features too, so you can see when an invoice has been viewed. No longer will people be able to claim they haven’t received your invoice—because you’ll have proof either way!
  3. Use apps to record milage: If you need to drive for your work then you might be able to claim a tax allowance for the mileage. If so then you can use an app to track the mileage, such as MileIQ. This makes tracking milage infinitely more simpler compared to scribbling it down in a notepad, and it’s also more accurate. Those fractions of a mile can really add up across the year!
  4. Switch to paperless billing: This is an easy one to put into place. Most large companies nowadays are happy to issue bills without needing to post them to you. Instead, you get a reminder to check your online account. Utility companies, municipal governments and more are all keen on this approach. And why not? By simply logging in, or checking your email history, you can access all the bills quickly and easily.
  5. Use an iPad: It doesn’t have to be an Apple iPad, of course. Other tablet computers are available (and are often cheaper!). But the goal is to always view longer docs you download like PDFs on a tablet, rather than printing them out and viewing a hard copy. This is especially useful for documents like instruction manuals, e-books, coursework, government forms, and so on.
  6. E-sign: Although there’s still a legal requirement to sign many documents, nowadays it’s legal in many countries to sign a document in a digital way, using a technology like Adobe eSign. If your accountant works out your tax return, for example, then they might be happy for you to simply click and type your name in certain fields on official documentation. Speak to a legal expert about implementing e-signing in your business, or consult relevant legislation. In Canada, an e-signature has the same legal status as a handwritten signature. Electronic signature in Canada is regulated federally by PIPEDA, the Personal Information and Electronic Documents Act.

Remember: Using paper with the goal of recycling it after isn’t an environmentally-friendly solution. This means that two amounts of carbon dioxide are produced, even if it means fewer trees are destroyed. It’s better if that paper isn’t manufactured in the first place. This way, zero carbon dioxide is created via manufacturing.

Conclusion: Less paper is a better business

It’s taken some time but we’re now in a position where we really can say that a business without paperwork is not just possible, but also desirable.

If you’re starting a business or if your business is young then getting into good habits right now, and trying to avoid processes built around collecting mountains of paperwork, is the correct way to move forward.

Remember: Saving the trees is nice, but saving your own sanity is better.