There’s no question that the cloud has come to work. You may wonder why so many businesses are moving to the cloud? It’s because cloud computing increases efficiency, helps improve cash flow and offers many more benefits. Companies today – startups and SMEs – use on average 16 cloud apps at work, according to Okta’s research.
Migrating to the cloud and going paperless, means that for some of us it’s a learning curve, and for others it’s a total sigh of relief. Either way, making the change will probably consume hours of time, will require a ruthless mind set (and more caffeine than you’d like to admit) to sort, upload, and store everything online. But once finished, the result will be pure relief.
Whether you’re a brick-and-mortar business, or a contractor working from home, there is no doubt that going paperless will save you huge amounts of time and hassle during tax season and throughout the year. Even if you’re out of the office for a quick meeting or working from a different country, as long as you’ve got a smartphone, a laptop, and access to the internet, you can make your business cloud fit.
“While it takes some getting used to, we would never go back to the old way of operating. Each time a tax deadline approached, we’d have to rummage through a pile of tax receipts and invoices in absolute angst. Now we run our business entirely from the cloud and can access and share all of our documents with colleagues, clients, and our accountant, in a few clicks.”
What You Need To get Cloud Fit:
1. A scanner
2. Develop a naming and organization scheme for scanned documents
3. Choose the apps best for your business
Manage Your Finances in the Cloud
We can’t highlight this enough: keeping your business and personal finances super organized in the cloud can eliminate many of your hassles during tax season. Xero online accounting is the best accounting software for small businesses, and as Xero Silver partners in the UK, we manage the setting up for our clients. You can use ReceiptBank to snap and digitally store a photo of your receipt, and it automatically feeds into Xero for you.
Dropbox is great to store documents, and you can use it for free if your docs don’t exceed 2GB.
If you didn’t already know this, Flickr gives users one terabyte of free space, which is enough to keep approximately 700,000 photos online. Although it’s meant to be used as a public photo sharing network, you can use it as a private online storage account by setting the share settings of your photos to ‘private’. This way,, all of your images are in one place, and you won’t fill up your other cloud storage drives (Dropbox, Evernote) with large photo files.
Collaborate on Documents
Google Docs is fantastic for creating and collaborating on documents with clients and others in your team. It’s similar to Microsoft Office, but it allows multiple users to simultaneously view, edit, comment on, and even chat together within documents, spreadsheets, PowerPoint presentations, and forms. A bonus feature (that MS Office doesn’t have) is that it auto-saves every few minutes.
Sign Documents Digitally
HelloSign is a simple and cost-effective way to sign documents or collect signatures, and is available on iOS and Android apps to sign documents on the fly. If you’re the one needing to collect another person’s signature, you can send a document by email right from the app. Adobe’s EchoSign is another alternative, providing protection for both the sender and the signer during the signing process including key authentication and privacy, fraud protection, and consumer disclosure.
Create an Online Company Library
If you want to be saved from the hassle of constantly locating documents and sharing them via email with your team, you can try Bloomfire.
Employees can upload documents (guides, manuals, sales material) to your company’s account, for everyone to access virtually.
Going paperless requires discipline to set up and determination to maintain, but whether you’re a freelancer, independent contractor, startup or SME, there’s a way for you take some or all of your business paperless and work more efficiently.
Explore our cloud accounting apps or send us a message if you would like to move to online accounting software. Xero integrates with hundreds of other cloud apps and tools to streamline your business. Ask us about starting a free trial of Xero today!