3 Great Tools to Help Your Business Go Paperless

Show some love for trees – go paperless.
By Col Ford and Natasha de Vere. CC BY 2.0

In this digital day and age, there’s very little reason to have anything printed. Paper documents take up space, are a pain to sort through, require that you actually have a printer, and are susceptible to a big, gust of wind :-o.

If you’re wondering if it’s possible to go paperless, yes it is. My invoices, contracts, bills, credit card statements, phone bill, and other documents are all digitally stored. With digital storage, the idea is to just file your document away *just in case.* Most of the time, we never need our paper documents, but we keep them around *just in case.* If everything is digitally archived, you can just look it up when you need, if ever.

Here are 3 great tools that I use personally and will also help you go paperless:

1. Gmail, Outlook or any other email tool.

Every time you send an email, a copy is saved, by default. Every time you receive an attachment, it is stored in your inbox. A gmail account allows for more storage than a normal person will practically need (currently over 10GB). If you need to find that one document, all you need to do is search for the author or keyword.

What if you don’t trust Gmail to properly store your important documents?

Then just save the important documents or files to your desktop. Now, you’ll have 2 copies: 1 on your computer and 1 on Gmail. If one gets deleted, then you still have the other one as a backup. The chances of both copies being deleted are as about as good as me winning the lottery, then getting struck by lightning, and then getting bit by a shark on the same day.

How much does it cost?

Email services and storage are 100% free. Also, I recommend Gmail because they only have 1 small text ad at the top of your inbox. Other email services like, Yahoo! Mail, often have huge, annoying banners.

Get a free Gmail account with 10GB of storage »

 

2. Adobe Echosign, “e-signing made easy.”

Adobe Echosign is a tool that I’ve started using recently. It’s a tool to help expedite my contract signing process. Previously, I would meet with a client to discuss the terms of the contract. I would then take notes and type out the contract afterwards. I would have to print it, email it, wait for my client to sign it, and wait for my client to send it back before I could even start working.

With Echosign, I can actually meet the client, type the contract out, and have them sign it right then and there.  That saves about 3-4 days of waiting and it saves me and my client money on printing and postage. Basically, Echosign just helps me G.S.D. (get stuff done).

You don’t need Echosign to take advantage of electronic signatures, but I like Echosign because it’s so dang easy to use. Just take a look at this instructional video from Adobe:

How much does it cost?

Echosign is freemium software. “Freemium” is a pricing model that is very popular with software services. The idea with freemium is that you usually start out free, but as your business grows, the service (and price) scale accordingly. With Echosign, there’s a free version that allows for a max of 5 signings per 30 day window. This is perfect for me, since I have a low volume of contracts, as a web designer. For everyone else, costs range from $14.95/month for the small business owner to $399/mo for big businesses with 10+ users.

Try Adobe Echosign »

Note: This is an affiliate link. However, I feel that this is a great service for people in my situation, so I am personally recommending it. 

 

3. BullZip PDF Printer

BullZip PDF Writer is a virtual printer. You install it and then select it as your printer when you are printing. What Bullzip prints is a PDF of your Word document, tax form, contract, or whatever you want. A PDF is a static document, meaning that your viewers will see the document exactly the same way as you do. You can also put a password on it so that people can’t edit it with a PDF editor.

I recommend using BullZip PDF Printer in conjunction with Gmail. Remember, every attachment you send will automatically be archived, so after you send it, you can just delete the file from your desktop.

How much does it cost?

BullZip PDF Printer is free (for personal use and commercial use, with up to 10 users).

Download BullZip PDF Printer for Windows »
Note: during installation, a necessary program called “GPL Ghostscript” will be installed.
Note 2: Got a Mac? PDF printing is a built-in feature!

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