This post was written by Kate L. Harrison, author of the best-selling green wedding book The Green Bride Guide: How to Plan an Earth-friendly Wedding on Any Budget, and founder of the premier green wedding resource: GreenBrideGuide.com.
As a Wedding & Event Professional, it is easy to feel overwhelmed by paperwork! From proposals and contracts to designs and client meeting notes – you, your business (and your desk) can easily get loaded down by papers. In addition to this being overwhelming and hard to keep organized, all these papers are damaging to the environment! The new WeddingWire Clients tab makes virtual client management from bookings to tracking payments and more a paper-free breeze.
More than a decade into the 21st century, one would think we would be closer to the “paperless society” information scientist Frederick Wilfrid Lancaster envisioned in 1978. Yet just last month, news surfaced that the Department of Veterans Affairs Office in North Carolina was literally collapsing from the paperwork stored on site. While our government may suffer under the weight of hard copies, there are a suite of tools available to help your business lighten its load.
Thanks to emerging paperless technologies, business owners can bypass many headaches and decrease their environmental footprint at the same time. Not only does going paperless clear clutter from your office environment, but it also saves you money and is a great PR message for potential customers and partners.
Here are five cutting edge ways to cut paper out of your daily routine:
Internal documents. Share files without that trip to the printer. With Google Docs, a free service run through Gmail, you can work simultaneously with colleagues on a document or spreadsheet. The system even lets you ‘chat’ with others viewing the document. It also continuously saves, so you’ll never lose your work file. You can download the files you create at any time if you need to email (or print them), and you can also revert to or compare earlier versions of a Google Doc at any time. If your office hasn’t jumped into the Gmail craze, Microsoft Office 365 offers interactive document editing features as well. Basecamp is another popular system for document collaboration and sharing. It stores documents and conversations/emails by topic, but unlike Google Docs, it does not allow for two colleagues to simultaneously edit the same document.
Paperless statements and bill paying. The more online bill paying you do, the less you’ll spend on postage, envelopes and employee time coordinating invoices, checks, and mailings. Running your office finances through the web makes payments prompt and much easier to track. Most banks offer paperless statements and even provide incentives for customers to manage their accounts online. If you are a merchant, use an App like Square to accept payments through your smartphone. You can also email receipts for customers instead of printing them.
Storage and file sharing. For moving and storing large files, consider investing in Dropbox or another file transfer system. Dropbox allows you to create group folders for different members of your office to allow you to quickly disseminate reports. YouSendIt is another good paperless option for sharing and storing large files.
Meetings and printouts. Doodle, SurveyMonkey and whenisgood.net provide services for conducting surveys and scheduling meetings, but what about handouts once you arrive? TeamViewer is an impressive office package that allows owners remote access to office computers 24/7 through any other computer or smartphone. It also includes features for screensharing during presentations, transmitting videos, sharing files, teleconferencing and accessing whiteboards. With TeamViewer there is no need to print handouts when you make a presentation or pitch; just temporarily hijack your colleagues’ laptops while you demonstrate why your idea is the best — then upload the slides to Basecamp or Dropbox (above) so they can have access to a saved digital copy.
Scanning and faxing. More companies rely on scanning and faxing than you would imagine, despite the prevalence of online and digital solutions.TurboScan is an excellent App that allows you to use your camera as a scanner and quickly converts captured images to PDFs for easy emailing. For incoming faxes, eFax.com puts them right into your email box as paperless emails for less than $15 per month. Technology provides a host of smart tools to help your office reduce paper waste. Every step towards a paperless environment will save you time, money, storage space and clutter.
And don’t forget to recycle any paper you still use and don’t need anymore. Approximately 1 billion trees worth of paper is thrown away every year in the U.S. Small choices add up, so keep paper trash in a separate waste can and make sure it finds its way to the recycling bin.
Ready to get started going paperless? The new WeddingWire Clients tab allows you to send invoices, esign, record payments and manage your full payments schedule all from your WeddingWire account, as well as manage your clients online in an organized and environmentally friendly way. Check it out!