» Easy Ways Your Business Can Go Paperless

Reducing your paper use for your business is not only environmentally-friendly, but it also has a number of potential benefits to your business. Think of all the money you spend on paper-associated costs, and what you would save if you were no longer printing, mailing or faxing documents!

Here are a few benefits of going “paperless” at your small business:

  • Reduce costs associated with paper, printers, copiers, ink and toner cartridges
  • Eliminate filing cabinets and printers, and in turn reduce  or re-use your current office space
  • Give faster responses to customers, with real time updates and delivery of documents
  • Eliminate the time wasted on getting paper signatures on contracts and forms
  • Happier clients who are conscious of ‘going green’ for their wedding day or event

The transition to using less paper for your business does not have to be difficult or expensive! There are many solutions available today that can help you take steps towards a paperless office.

Easy Ways Your Business Can Go Paperless | WeddingWireEDU BlogHere are a few ways your business can save money and go paperless!

Avoid printing. Most business activities today can be done online – we send emails instead of letters, we work in cloud-based programs to save documents and access them from anywhere and our computing devices are small enough to take from meeting to meeting. So why print anything anymore? Take advantage of file-sharing programs like Google Drive or Dropbox to send documents back and forth, and try taking notes on your laptop or iPad instead of printing out an agenda – you can even save them in the cloud to access anytime from any device with Evernote. You can easily cut down on paper with this step alone!

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» Tips on How to Save & When to Spend Money

Running a small business is a very stressful, expensive process and unfortunately, no one (to date!) has been successful at finding the money-growing tree. Identifying the balance of ways to save money and when to spend it is an important task for any small business, whether you’ve been open for 10 months or 10 years. All of the points outlined below are meant to simplify your business; utilize the points as they apply to your company and business plan!

1. Go Green – Go Paperless

You’ve always been told to keep detailed and accurate records but there are many ways to go paperless while maintaining comprehensive files. Saving money by cutting the reams of paper you buy is just one way to save. Sorting and managing all of your files takes up time and manpower when your employees’ time is best spent completing role-specific tasks. Utilizing online file sharing such as Google Docs and Dropbox will save time and money! Additionally, the WeddingWire Clients tab makes it easy to manage your clients, payments and store and share important documents – all in one easy to manage place!

2. Utilize Free Resources

Resources such as Microsoft Office and Quickbooks are software packages that many businesses take advantage of to create, organize and prepare content, orders and invoices. Google Apps Marketplace is another useful site to search for online tools that are easy to use and free or low cost. Programs like these allow a business owner to complete all necessary tasks just as they would with tools like Microsoft Office Suite but with a lower cost option.

3. It’s OK to Be a Guinea Pig

When choosing computer programs, it is always more comforting to know that you are investing and using products that have run the gamut of testing and are tried and true. That being said, a sensible option for saving money on what is typically very expensive software are Beta products. These releases are “not-quite-there products” but in most cases, the products are very refined. Because these tools aren’t yet released to the public, you can receive the Beta software for free while the creators apply the finishing touches before release; therefore, saving some green. If you are a flexible company, with patience to roll with the punches, this is a good option for you. However, because these products may still have some unfound glitches, if you don’t have the time for the unknown, stick with certified, publicly-distributed releases.

4. When to Spend

While it is important to mind your dollars and cents as you are launching and building your business, there are a few ‘splurges’ that financially-cautious companies should make.

  • First impressions are everything. Don’t skimp on a basic site building program; invest the budget necessary to create a website that effectively portrays your company’s brand and vision. Search Engine Optimization is also a worthwhile expense to invest in while building your site.
  • These days, it is essential to make sure your business is mobile. With the ever-changing access to technology, your customers are always on the go; therefore, you should be, too. Not only should you be accessible to your clients, but you should have access to your files, documents, important contacts, etc. While in a client meeting, being able to quickly show examples of your work could make the difference in a new deal. We make it easy with the WeddingWire Mobile Website Creator!

Read this full article and more great insights for your business in our Education Center!

» 5 Steps to a (Nearly) Paperless Office

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.

Kate Harrison of GreenBrideGuide.com shares her insights and Pro tips on how to create a nearly paperless office. This post was originally published on Forbes.com.

Image from http://minnlawyer.com

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!

» Promote Green Weddings and Earn More!

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.

The average wedding produces over 450 lbs of garbage and 63 tons of CO2! So much of this waste and pollution can be avoided. As a wedding professional, you have a unique opportunity to help engaged couples get the information they need to make eco-friendly choices. It is always nice to do something good for the environment, but if when giving back gives you extra cash, it is win-win for you, your couples and the earth!

Here are the top five ways to go green and earn more in 2013:

Promote the use of Wedding Websites

Wedding websites are excellent tools for organizing guests, sharing important information, saving paper and cutting costs for your couples. Many couples opt for a simple, information-based wedding website — but there’s no reason why they can’t be much more.  Adding interactive features keeps guests engaged and gives everyone attending the wedding a forum where they can connect before the big day.  Remember, your couples can set up customized, designed free wedding websites through WeddingWire!

Offer rentals

The upside of the down economy is that more couples are looking to rent items for their weddings than ever before.  With couples renting everything from their gowns to vintage china, it is a great time to get into the wedding rentals market. You can start with simple items you know everyone needs: tea light holders, good china, attractive flatware, etc., and build from there. If you plan a lot of weddings with similar themes, specialty items that match your décor aesthetic, such a log place card holders, chair signs, and other reusable items, this can add a lot of value to your service offering and give you extra income at the same time.

Join green affiliate programs

Many companies offer revenue sharing programs for everything from eco-wedding décor to green gift registries. Browse shareasale, linkshare and commission junction for vendors offering products and services that meet your clients needs — and include their ads on your blog or website. Most programs offer 5-10% commissions with a 90+ day “cookie,” so you get credit even if the couples going through your site do not buy something right away.

Photo Credit: Susabella

Promote honeymoon registries

Who needs more stuff when you can register for once-in-a-lifetime experiences?  Help your wedding couples reduce waste by encouraging them to register for their honeymoon or cash for their mortgage or down payment. Companies like Honeymoon Wishes and Wed&Wish make this easy and a much less tacky option than the cash envelope stuffed into the groom’s lapel pocket.

Recycle and donate

If you are working with a venue that does not offer on-site recycling, composting or floral donations, you can offer these services as an up-sell to your clients and arrange to bring these materials to off-site locations after the event. Depending on the size and complexity of the event, it is reasonable to charge several hundred dollars to manage the waste. This is great for the environment and can really boost your business and your reputation as an eco-friendly values-oriented provider. You can also earn additional money in some states by collecting and cashing in recyclables if the couple needs to use bottled beverages instead of offering drinks on tap.

These are just a few of the creative ways you can help wedding couples go green while you earn more. Going green is a great way to distinguish yourself from the competition and step up your sales at the same time. With so many couples expressing their eco-conscious values there has never been a better time to add environmentally friendly services to your repertoire!

» 10 Ways to Green Your Business & Save Money

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.

With so many Wedding Professionals to choose from, it has never been more important to differentiate yourself from the competition! According to David’s Bridal, almost 70% of brides today are looking to include eco-friendly elements in their events. Green brides spend 27% more on their weddings than the average bride, so being green-friendly is a great way to get attention of these couples, and ultimately earn more— while doing something good for the planet.

Green brides are actively seeking to support companies that integrate sustainable practices into their day-to-day business practices, meeting the needs of their profession without compromising the needs of future generations. Before you reach out to eco-conscious clients, it is important to take a step back and green your own operations.

The following are some simple steps you can take today to save money, gain credibility as an eco-conscious professional, and decrease your footprint on the planet:

  • Switch to post-consumer waste (PCW) paper, paper products, and packaging. Whenever possible, skip paper entirely, but if you have to print, make sure you are using eco-friendly paper. Only PCW (post consumer waste) paper is made entirely from the paper we place in our recycling bins each day. Making PCW recycled paper uses 45% less energy and creates half the waste of the traditional papermaking process. Purchasing products labeled “100% PCW” ensures you are using papers with the least impact. If 100% is not available, look for options with as much PCW content as possible, and don’t forget to recycle all your company’s paper scraps instead of sending them to the landfill.
  • Use biodegradable cleaners. Using natural, biodegradable cleaning products reduces your exposure to harsh toxins and other chemicals, and reduces the introduction of these substances into the environment. The next time you run out of soap, shampoo or laundry detergent, swap in a greener option. The Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Database is an amazing resource for finding non-toxic options for every part of your personal routine, and for your office washroom and kitchen too.
  • Use compact-fluorescent (CFL) or LED lights. Though CFL and LED lights both have a higher purchase price than standard incandescent bulbs, they last significantly longer and use much less energy. This calculator is a great way to see how quickly simply changing out your bulbs can add up!
  • Replace outdated appliances with their greener counterparts. Energy Star appliances have labels to help you assess their energy (and cash) requirements over time. Look for the yellow tags when you buy your next appliance, and splurge up front for the long-term economic and environmental savings.
  • Get an energy audit and make simple changes around your office and house. According to the Department of Energy, sealing leaks and cracks in your home and office can cut up to 20% off the cost of your heating and cooling bills. Many states will perform free energy audits, and will pay for some or all of the repairs! (Hint: Google free energy audit and the name of your state for leads)

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» It Can Be Easy to “Go Green!”

Many engaged couples today are environmentally focused, and making green choices for their wedding is an important priority as part of their planning process. According to a 2011 David’s Bridal survey, over 70% of engaged couples are seeking green alternatives. Stand out from your competition, and appeal to additional clients by providing eco-friendly options.

There are tons of creative ways to incorporate green conscious practices into your services – from ensuring comprehensive recycling facilities are available, to staying local to minimize a carbon footprint, to giving away green favors or even requesting gifts to a couple’s favorite eco-friendly charity. Ready to “go green” or take your environmentally friendly services up a notch? Consider becoming a Certified Green Wedding Professional.

Kate L. Harrison, Founder of green wedding resource GreenBrideGuide.com, has created the Green Wedding Professional Certification Course to teach Wedding Professionals everything you need to know to help clients go green and to market your business to this growing and lucrative client base.

The course is available online, and now available through live one-day sessions throughout the US and Canada.

In this course, you will:

  • Learn the definition of a green wedding and its place in the history of the environmental movement
  • Gain an understanding of the huge environmental impacts of weddings
  • Study the importance of environmental certifications and the dangers of greenwashing
  • Explore eco-friendly solutions to wasteful planning practices
  • Connect with companies in your area to build a reliable network of local green vendors
  • Discover ten easy steps you can take to green your event planning business and save money
  • Learn techniques for incorporating the green message into your marketing
  • Receive benefits including special discounts, Association of Bridal Consultants (ABC) points and a seal for your marketing collateral upon completion

Image: Graduates of the first live course in Mexico

Check the schedule to see if a live certification is coming to a city near you – with new stops added weekly. If you are interested in a self-paced online course, WeddingWire members will receive $200 off by using discount code GWP200 at checkout.

Check back soon for the top 10 tips to green your business – and ultimately save moneyfrom Kate Harrison, Founder of GreenBrideGuide.com!