Eight tips to safely start or transition into a more streamlined venture.
5 min read
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This is the fifth in a series of original columns for Entrepreneur.com by Laura D. Adams that will publish two Mondays a month. And don’t forget to purchase a copy of Adams’ latest book for Entrepreneur Press, Money-Smart Solopreneur: A Personal Finance System for Freelancers, Entrepreneurs, and Side-Hustlers, via Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Bookshop | IndieBound.
In addition to saving trees, there are many advantages to running a paperless solo business. Not only does paper demand time to process and physical space to store, but it may contain confidential information that puts you or your customers at risk.
Use these tips to safely start or transition your solo business into a paperless venture.
1. Opt out of junk mail
If your mailbox gets regularly stuffed with junk mail, such as pre-approved insurance or credit offers, the following resources will help you eliminate it:
- Optoutprescreen.com is the official site for getting removed from the major national credit reporting companies’ offer lists. It’s free to opt out for five years or permanently.
- DMAchoice.org is the Direct Marketing Association’s site, where you can opt out of unsolicited mail and email for a $2 fee for 10 years.
2. Request e-documents
Every time you receive paper mail, find out if you can turn it into a digital document. Most financial and utility paperwork — such as bank statements, credit card bills, insurance documents and cellular bills — can be turned into e-documents when you have an online account.
Some companies even offer incentives, such as waiving account fees or qualifying for rewards, when choosing e-statements and e-bills.
3. Make online payments
If you’re still writing and mailing paper checks, it’s time to make all of your outgoing business documents paperless, too. Not only are paper checks costly and inefficient, but a thief could take them at the sending or receiving end.
Most banks offer free bill pay to any company or individual with a mailing address. The bank sends funds electronically, when possible, or prints and mails a paper check on your behalf for free. It couldn’t be more convenient! Plus, you can authorize your bill pay platform to receive your e-bills and notify you about upcoming due dates so nothing falls through the cracks.
4. Set up secure digital storage
Your financial institutions may only offer free access to online documents for a limited time. Be sure you understand their policies or potential fees to download documents later on.
If you want to store your digital documents, it’s easy to do. You can download statements and bills or snap photos of receipts throughout the year.
Once you have business e-documents, you’ll need to keep them organized and secure. Consider setting up a system on your computer with a primary business folder and sub-folders. Use file names for your documents that include the year, month and category, so it’s easy to find what you need later on.
And be sure to store important e-documents in multiple places, so they can’t get lost in a disaster or computer crash. In addition to your computer, you might keep a copy of all your business documents on an external drive and a secure cloud-based option, such as Google Drive, Amazon S3 or Dropbox.
5. Try simple scanners
The easiest way to digitize paper documents is with a free scanning app, such as
How to Run a Paperless Solo Business