We might be straddling the literal-figurative bridge when we advise you to “go green with your ‘green,'” but in this age of eco-consciousness it is as important to be mindful of your paper usage as it is to recycle and bring your reusable canvas bag to the supermarket. Personal and business accounting can be a significant source of paper waste, and today I’d like to discuss ways to reduce it or, better yet, to go paper-free entirely!
If “going green” is not your thing, there are other reasons besides ecology that might convince you. Few people will deny it: paper stacks are intimidating, especially as utility bills, invoices, and expense reports accumulate throughout the month. Going paperless is a fantastic way to reduce the stress—and time wasted—associated with the paper-shuffle. Furthermore, it is easy to lose track of important documents when they are all swimming in a sea of paper. That invoice could easily get thrown out with this week’s influx of Bed, Bath & Beyond coupons.
Instead of printing out all of your paperwork, aim to organize everything on your computer. There is no single way to do this. If you’re comfortable navigating your operating system—whether it’s iOS or Windows—you could easily design your own virtual filing structure. This article provides some useful tips for getting started. Begin with the fundamental structure described, and tailor it by adding or removing folders to fit the needs of your business. However, regardless of your industry or business type, be sure to use the calendar model to keep track of dates. This will be indispensable for tracking growth and for handling tax season.
Another method—and probably the most fashionable—involves purchasing bookkeeping software, the most popular of which is QuickBooks. This software gives you the option of managing your finances on your local computer or “in the cloud”—that is, online. Either choice will save you the headache of infinite printouts and flyaway receipts. If this kind of accounting autonomy intimidates you, don’t hesitate to outsource the work to an experienced bookkeeper or CPA. Together you can streamline your bookkeeping processes, while upholding your reputation as an earth-conscious entrepreneur!