Green Revolution: Why You Should Go Paperless

Go Paperless and join the Green Revolution

Paper may seem harmless, but in reality, it causes severe environmental damage and has far reaching effects. It has become more important than ever for businesses to go paperless.
The pulp and paper industry is the third largest industrial polluter to air, water, and land. With this in mind, Canada and the United States are the world’s largest producers of paper and pulp products.
If we don’t smarten up soon our window of opportunity may quickly shut.

What’s the Damage?

Source Process

Right from the start, the paper and pulp industry causes severe damage to the environment, including our air, water, and soil.  As you probably know, the paper comes from trees— in fact, 35% of all harvested trees, and 40% of all industrial wood is used for paper manufacturing. The United States alone cuts down more than 68 million trees each year, just for the production of pulp and paper products. These numbers are staggering when you consider the immense importance trees have in regulating our planet’s health. Since trees absorb CO2 and release oxygen, they mitigate the harmful effects of greenhouse gas. Moreover, a single 100-year-old tree can only produce 17 reams of paper, but when it’s cut down it will release 110 lbs of CO2 into the atmosphere. As such, this deforestation directly increases climate change. Not only does the removal of trees speed up the global warming process, but it also makes it more severe. Deforestation accounts for more global carbon emissions than trucks and cars combined. With this in mind, there is a strong link between high levels of atmospheric gas, and increased deaths and respiratory illnesses.
The removal of trees also severely damages the quality of our soil. Through transpiration, trees control the level of water in our atmosphere and directly help regulate the water cycle. When there are fewer trees, there’s less water! Through this, our soils become drier, negatively affecting its ability to sustain life— for both plants, and organisms. Moreover, soil and smaller plants use trees for shade. When they are removed, more UV rays are able to penetrate the ground, further drying out the soil. The removal of trees also increases surface runoff, which causes soil erosion. As such, our soil can become barren, further harming our environment.
Deforestation also threatens our planet’s biodiversity and contributes to species endangerment. Approximately 80% of the world’s land animals and plants live in forests. The removal of trees also means the destruction of their habitats and the introduction of pesticides into their ecosystem. In fact, upwards of 30 million acres of forest are lost each year. Moreover, trees help regulate a forest’s internal temperature through their canopy. The removal of the canopy fluctuates internal temperatures, which is extremely harmful to both plants and animals.
Removing trees also negatively affects neighboring and indigenous communities. More than 1.5 billion people rely on forests for the necessities, such as food, water, clothing, and shelter. Taking away their important resources causes social conflict, and threatens their livelihood.

Manufacture Process

The production of paper in of itself is also extremely harmful to the environment, neighboring communities and even their own employees. Each year, the world manufactures more than 300 million tons of paper, with 1 million tons of paper used each day. Unfortunately, paper mills emit significant levels of pollution. They release upwards of 220 million lbs of toxins each year, which affects our air, water, and soil. A measly 1 ton of paper creates 1.5 tons of carbon dioxide. This pollution has adverse effects on neighboring communities, and nearby ecosystems. They are also the largest industrial consumer of water, as the pulp and paper industry uses more water to produce 1 ton of product than any other industry. To better put this in perspective, 1.5 cups of water are needed to make one single sheet of paper, and approximately 300,000 litres are needed for 1 ton. Moreover, they are the second largest consumer of energy. To produce one ton of paper, 253 gallons of petrol are used. The production of secondary and supporting products are also incredibly harmful. For example, the production of ink relies on fossil fuels and harmful chemicals.
Even their own workers are not spared from the negative effects of paper production, as paper mill employees are subject to poor working conditions. In order to reduce wood pulp and bleach paper, employees are exposed to a toxic cocktail of chemicals. As such, they have an increased risk for dangerous health problems, like malignant lymphomas.
With all this in mind, by 2020 paper mills are expected to produce 500,000,000 tons of paper products annually.

Disposal Process

Let’s be honest, most of us do not recycle every single sheet of paper that we come in contact with— and even if we did, paper cannot be recycled indefinitely. Of the total waste in the United States of America, a staggering 40% is paper products. To hit home a bit more, 45% of paper printed in offices is thrown out by the end of the day. Unsurprisingly, 50% of the waste businesses create is paper. Even the supporting products are wasteful, as 400 million ink and 100 million toner cartridges end up in landfills each year. Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse, at the end of its destructive life, paper either rots or is burned. The burning of paper emits CO2, while the rotting releases methane gas— a gas that is 25 times more toxic than CO2.
Through its entire lifecycle paper causes significant, and sometimes irreparable, damage.  

Want to Help? Go Paperless

Benefits

The only way to protect the environment from paper waste is to go paperless. In a paperless world, each year the average worker can save:

  • 938 gallons of water
  • 2.5 trees
  • 56 gallons of oil
  • 595 KW (kilowatts of energy)
  • 12.15 cubic feet of landfill space

Greenhouse gas emissions would also decrease by 3.9 billion lbs annually— which is equivalent to removing 355,000 cars from the road! These benefits aren’t just environmental. By going paperless, your organization can save a ton of money! In fact, a company with only 8 employees can save $10,000 a year just by ditching paper. You would also save on ink and toner costs, which add up to $3,230 and $5,600 respectively. Even more so, businesses lose 15% of their important documents, which costs around $120 in labour to find, and $220 to finally replace. Your annual cost benefit can be upwards of $20,000!
Want to learn more about how you can go paperless? Check our blogs on 5 ways to create a paperless business or 11 resources to check to a paperless office!

eSignatures

One of the best ways to help is to simply switch to electronic and digital signatures. This simple step really has a huge positive impact, just think of how many times a day you rely on paper documents! Companies, like Signority, help you automate and digitize your document signing process with their electronic signature solutions. This leaves you with a lot less paper, and extra time to do more important things— like save time on costly internal operations and the planet!
We need to reduce, not recycle. The paper industry is out-dated, unnecessary, and extremely harmful. If we don’t change our ways soon and go paperless, we may lose our chance. If you don’t believe me, just click here to see how much paper we have produced this year alone.
Join the revolution go paperless!
Switch to digital, and switch to a more environmentally friendly business…  one small step for the office, one huge step for mankind!
Feel free to share this post with your colleagues and friends, but please try and fight the urge to print it!
Want to help save the planet? Sign-up now and get free access to Signority’s Business Plan.

The environmental cost of paper contracts on Valentine's Day

Valentine's day environmental cost infographic

Infographic: The environmental cost of paper contracts on Valentine’s Day

Flowers, especially roses, have always been a symbol of love, new beginnings, hope and are the ideal gift for Valentine’s Day. With this infographic we hope to let readers get an understanding of where these flowers come from, how many paper contracts get signed in the process, and most importantly, what the environmental effects are of the said paperwork. 
Signority Valentines Day and paper contracts Infographic 2017
The explosion of technology and rapid increase in online spending, are proving that a complete digital future is inevitable. Yet, the flower industry still seems to be using dated paper contracts, directly resulting in hundreds of trees lost in the process and other negative environmental effects, for no reason. We decided to go with a high-level visual representation and focused on calculating the wastage of paper in only one major step of the big supply chain that makes Valentine’s Day happen, since we believe it covers some of the more critical data that impacts all of us — be it a consumer or business owner. We hope to help businesses rethink their paper contract processes and help avoid wastage by going digital.
We’d love to know what you think, tweet us your thoughts and reactions @Signority.
[socialpug_tweet tweet=”On Valentine’s 750M+ stems to be sold = 400+ trees killed in paper contracts”]
If you are in an organization with cross-border business operations, we invite you to read our guide to International Contracts.
Bonus: Businesses ready to go paperless are invited to read our post that outlines 5 ways to achieve a paperless office today.

Border-Free Business: Your Definitive Guide To International Contracts

International contracts for SMBs

My first experience with international contracts did not go so well. The year was 2004, I was travelling and had just recently met up with a very promising business prospect. We had the responsibility of finalizing a housing development project, by creating sandcastles from the toys we found scattered around the beach shore. Oh, did I mention I was only 8? Well, anyway, turns out my new found friend at the beach purposely hustled the only toy shovel right from my little naive hands.
This is my story.
Both of us wanted the shovel, so we decided to figure things out fairly- with a legally binding contract, aka, a game of heads or tails. Now, my new sandcastle developing partner, seeing an opportunity to push their own agenda, said “tails I win, heads you lose”… as you can probably guess, I blindly agreed to these terms. At the time, I didn’t realize the fine print of their offer and grudgingly gave away the only toy shovel. Only years later, lying wide awake at 3am, did I realize how unfair and one-sided that “contract” really was!
Don’t let yourself make the same mistake, because there’s probably a lot more at risk. So keep reading to learn what to watch out for before signing or sending international contracts (and some other useful information too).
International contracts can open up a lot of opportunities…. opportunities that you should take advantage of, like right now. If your business is not, at least, looking to expand into foreign markets, you are losing a huge slice of potential market share. Our economy would not be where it is today without the access and ease of entering into international markets. International trade is a part of every aspect of your, and my, day-to-day life. 
Now, you may be thinking, you work for a small to medium sized business and have no idea how to handle international contracts. Well fortunately for you, we have already done the hard work.
So here it is… Your definitive Guide to International Contracts!

Laws When Doing Business with a Foreign Company

Obviously, international business agreements are substantially different from domestic. For international, you have to be aware of the country’s political environment, economic environment, culture, and legal system. For example, as explained by Business Management, India’s laws protect small businesses and consumers, whereas China’s government strictly controls its business sectors. With this being said, it is very important to know the country’s specific contract laws. Countries that follow common law systems, like the United States, have very detailed contracts compared with countries that follow a civil law system, like Russia. This is an important detail to note, as common law system contracts can be time-consuming and expensive to create.

Sending International Contracts: What to Look for

The first, and most obvious, thing to look for is if your terms are properly stated. Make sure your international contract is easily understandable, free from any grammatical errors and is written in plain English. According to the State Bar of Michigan, writing contracts in plain English can improve the contract’s substantive content, and promote the client’s interests. Furthermore, your contract must follow a logical segmentation- if you can’t follow along with what the contract is saying, your signee won’t be able to either. Along the same lines, you should look out for vague standards, such as “reasonable” or “significant”, as these phrases can cloud your actual objective. Furthermore, read through and remove any implying terms. Make sure everything is explicitly stated and said with intent, especially in regards to price and payments. Making your standards more concrete and clear will make them easier to reinforce, and easier for signees to follow. Click here to learn how to include remote workers and digital nomads into your business plan. Already know how/why you want to hire international workers? Click here.

Receiving International Contracts: What to Look for

Most importantly, you need to read it over and agree to everything stated. Make sure the contract leaves none of your questions unanswered. For example, it should clearly define whether the method of payment is a fixed fee, or based on the current exchange rate (and whether you will be paid in local or foreign currency). It is usually a good idea to have a lawyer look over any international contract before you sign (don’t worry, we’ll explain how to easily find a cheap lawyer a little later on).

Receiving Employment Contracts: What to Look for

Unfortunately, international employment contracts are more technically complicated than standard employment contracts, as employment laws, tax laws and immigration laws affect them. As such, there are several things you should watch out for. First, make sure all of the nitty-gritty details are spelt out and clearly defined. For example, ensure any and all promised benefits are fully laid out. Second, be sure to read every single clause. You do not want to end up in a sticky situation because the “past” you was too bored to actually read what you were agreeing to. The non-compete clause is an important one to note, as, according to Wikipedia, this can prohibit you from working within a competing profession or trade with your soon to be employer. Especially if you’re uprooting your life and moving for this job, you want to be sure you have plenty of opportunities if you ever decide to quit (and that you’re not forced to move back home).

How to Find a Lawyer

All this responsibility does not have to fall on your shoulders; to be safe you should hire a professional to look over everything and make sure things are in order. You might be rolling your eyes and groaning, but hiring a lawyer does not have to be expensive. Let me repeat, hiring a lawyer does not have to be expensive. And the added security is definitely worth the minimal cost. You can always ask around for lawyer recommendations, but this can be extremely time consuming and friends/family are not always the most reliable source. Thankfully, there are also online sources available. LawTrades can help you find employment contract lawyers for cheap. Since they don’t have the overhead expenditure of law firms, they are about 60% more affordable – score!

Digital Vs. Paper Signatures

Contracts, in general, can be stressful, and it doesn’t help when you’re sending/receiving them half way across the world. International contracts have the added stress of time and distance. Paper signatures not only prolong the signing process, it also increase the frustration and overall inconvenience (and sometimes the associated costs). Thankfully, the future is here! Digital signatures speed up the process by sending contracts across borders instantaneously. As such, they save time, money and make everyone’s experience as stress-free as possible.
Online eSignature companies like Signority, can be the solution you’ve been waiting for. Compared with digital contracts, paper contracts make about as much sense as sending your mail by pigeon.
Well there you have it, all you need to know about the basics of international contracts. I bet heads your small to medium sized business will exponentially grow from being introduced to international markets, and tails that international contracts are not as hard as they seem.  
Thank you for reading, now please sign the dotted line below to grant us full access to all of your bank accounts: ____________________
To most of you who didn’t sign, I’m very proud of how much you’ve learned. To those who did sign, maybe just stick to hiring a lawyer.
Well, we have given you the basics of international contracts, now it’s time for you to start applying this information into your business strategy and open up a whole new world, literally and figuratively.
Also, check out our recent article on “The Ultimate List: 100+ Tools & Resources For Skyrocketing Business Growth in 2017” to help further automate and streamline your international business deals!
Looking to take your business paperless? Sign-up now and get free access to Signority’s Business Plan for 14-days.

The Anatomy of an Audit Trail: Electronic Signature Simplified

The Anatomy of the Audit Trail and its Electronic Signature Implications

An audit trail can be the deciding factor between a valid and invalid electronic signature document. Going by the actively surging electronic signature adoption rates and growing number of online businesses, there’s no arguing that eSignatures are here to stay.
Since eSignatures are soon to be the new normal, we thought we should discuss what an audit trail is and why it’s an important part of an electronic signature.
You may be familiar with the difference between electronic signatures and digital signatures, in case you’re not, an electronic signature is information in electronic form (can be sound, symbol, process, etc.) that is associated or attached to a document. This means that as long one can demonstrate that the signature is associated with a person and that there was intent to sign, everything is legally binding and accepted.
A digital signature is actually a form of electronic signature that uses an encryption algorithm that helps validate who the signer is. It also ensures that the document cannot be tampered with, as the signature becomes invalid if the document is changed after signing.  You can read about the differences between electronic signatures vs. digital signatures here.
Now that we have covered the basics, let’s get to what an audit trail is and why it plays an integral part in the process of validating of a document.
Technopedia, the IT education site defines an audit trail, in the context of information technology, “as a chain of evidence in the form of hard or electronic business transactions or communications resulting from business processes, functions or programming executions.”
In other words, an audit trail is a detailed list of critical data points, pertaining to the transaction, that are recorded and reported. These data points help verify the validity of the transaction.
In terms of Electronic Signatures, an audit trail helps keep track and reports user data, furthering the validity of the signature process. Most, if not all serious eSignature vendors out there — including Signority — provide an audit trail with every electronic signature transaction.
Below is a list of important components we display in Signority’s audit trail:

  • Unique Document Title
  • Secured seal (Digital Signatures)
  • Email Address Of Signers And Viewers
  • The IP address of the involved parties
  • Documents viewed by each signer
  • Signers consent to terms of service
  • User authentication: SMS and Email
  • Signature creation (by each signer)
  • Party agreement to / acknowledgement of document
  • Document downloads after signing
  • Signer’s Status
  • GUID (or ‘Globally Unique Identifier’)

For the sake of avoiding any form of confusion, let’s go over what these components mean and what value they add to the entire electronic signature validation process.

Unique Document TitleBreaking down the Audit Trail

Unique Document Title

A unique document title is the unique file name of the document that was originally created by the document creator. The unique document name can be found in the first page of Signority’s audit trail.

Secured Seal
Secured seal (Digital Signatures)

The secured seal is native to Signority’s digital signatures audit trail, the Secured Seal is both “Tamper-proof” and “Digitally Encrypted”. Meaning that, if the audit trail document was tampered with or edited in a third-party software such as Adobe’s Photoshop, the seal would immediately break and be considered invalid.

Signority’s Secured Seal is only available with our digital signature plans. In order to make digital signatures available to our customers, we use a Hardware Security Module (HSM) provided by GlobalSign to help store and manage the digital keys used in the digital signing process.  

Want to know more about digital signature? Check out our post on the difference between electronic signature vs. digital signatures to learn more!

 

Email Address Of Signers And Viewers

The audit trail records and displays the email addresses of all parties involved, which can be either signer or viewer.

  • Signer: Signers’ are users who are required to sign a particular document. A signer could be a primary signer or a witness.        
  • Viewer: A viewer is a user with view-only capabilities.

IP address of user
The IP address of the involved parties

According to IP Location, an IP address or Internet Protocol is A unique address that computing devices such as personal computers, tablets, and smartphones use to identify itself and communicate with other devices in the IP network.”
In terms of Signority’s audit trail, the IP address associated with a particular signer or viewer, at the time of viewing the document is recorded and reported — adding an extra layer of validity to electronic signature documents.


Documents Viewed By Each Signer

The Documents viewed by the signer or viewer is displayed in the name section in the Audit trail. The audit trail also displays the exact time the document was viewed.
 

GUID (or ‘Globally Unique Identifier’)

GUID’s of Globally Unique Identifiers, are defined by BetterExplained as “Large, enormous numbers that are nearly guaranteed to be unique.”
They usually look like this:
fa06cc7a-8a32-44c2-9e4d-2192818ab076
At Signority, every document created is assigned a Globally Unique Identifier and can be viewed in the audit trail.
 

Signers consent to terms of service

cSigners consent to use terms of service, refers to the signer or viewer agreeing to abide to the rules in order to use services provided by Signority.

 

User authentication: SMS and Email

Verifying the identity of a user before granting access to secured information is the main intention of the User Authentication feature.
With Signority there are two additional methods that can used to verify signers and viewers — i.e. SMS and email — when email and /or SMS password authentication is turned on by the user, Signority sends a randomly generated unique code to the recipient. The code is required to access the document.
The type of user authentication used is displayed in the “Authentication” section of the Signority’s Audit Trail.
 

Signature creation (by each signer)

The Signature Creation section is a critical component of the audit trail, it is the original signature of the required parties.
At Signority and most other eSignature providers, a party’s signature can be created by:

  1. Using a touch pad/screen or mouse
  2. Typing their signature using a keyboard
  3. Uploading a scanned copy of their signature

 

Document downloads after signing

Once the document is finalized by all of the signers, all parties involved are notified via email with an attached copy of the finalized document for safe keeping.
 
Signers-Status

Signer’s Status

The signers status reflect the final action taken by all required signer’s, the status can be: “Rejected”, “Waiting to Open”, “In Progress”, “Finalized and “Viewed” — depending on the action taken by the signer.
Looking to take your business paperless? Sign-up now and get free access to Signority’s Business Plan.

Must-Know: 20+ Tools and Hacks to Reduce Sales Admin Work & Improve Sales Productivity

20 tools for reducing sales admin work and increasing productivity

While reviewing our own sales tech stack here at Signority to find more opportunities for automation and workflow simplification, we chatted with our new friends at SalesWings to pick their brain. That turned into a very comprehensive list they were kind enough to share with us, and you below. So, read on and start making your sales team a lot more productive this new year!
The working day of a sales professional is always too short, and sometimes it can feel like there’s not enough time to, well, sell! Indeed, a 2015 study by Cirrus Insight showed that sales professionals spend less than half of their time selling. This statistic was also confirmed by Alice Heiman, founder and Chief Sales Officer of sales consulting and coaching firm Alice Heiman LLC.
It’s an egg-and-chicken situation: sales professionals need to sell more, but they have too many other tasks that prevent them devoting more time to selling. So, the first step to boosting sales professionals’ productivity is to automate basic admin tasks. This will give sales professionals more time to actually sell.  
Below are some tips and tools to help sales professionals spend less time on admin and more time selling.

Schedule time you want to dedicate to administration

First of all, sales professionals should schedule administrative blocks outside of calling hours, in the same way they schedule all other tasks such as meetings with clients. Nevertheless, David Allen, author of Getting Things Done, says that if a task requires less than 2 minutes of your attention, then you should do it. Getting quick and easy tasks out of the way immediately can benefit your productivity measurably.

Use a sales-oriented CRM

There is no doubt that CRM systems can help sales professional stay organized and focused. However, a common complaint sales professionals have is: “CRM is time consuming and reduces selling time”. It has to be said that CRMs are becoming more advanced and intuitive, thus meaning that a greater number of tasks can be automated to save time. For example, Salesforce can automatically update the activity on the contact or lead’s record, meaning there is no need for manual updates.
Three kinds of tools can help to boost your CRM:

  1. Tools that allow to you synchronize your email (Outlook or Gmail) with a CRM.

    Salesforce: Salesforce is probably the most well-known CRM. It has a huge eco-system of partner apps for all possible aspects like contact “hygiene” (check RingLead), email marketing (try Sendloop), a handy lead scoring system (Saleswings add-on) and even Gamification (Ambition). For instance, all you have to do is go to the AppExchange to find 1,000s of tools that allow sync between email and Salesforce. One of our favorites is ZynBit, which also delivers excellent customer analytics.
    Pipedrive: a CRM and pipeline management tool which focuses on key features for sales and a visible pipeline view. Pipedrive syncs perfectly with Gmail and Outlook, so that your team never need enter a contact twice. Pipedrive as Salesforce also integrates with several tools such as Saleswings lead scoring add-on for Pipedrive.
    Nimble: Nimble is a social CRM that updates your entire contact database thanks to great integrations with all social channels. “No data entry”! At Saleswings, we are also fans of their mobile app which offers great usability and provides “social insights” for each contact you’re planning to meet. Nimble uses third-party integration: PieSync. PieSync allows you to integrate Gmail & Outlook contacts within Nimble. That means that all your email contacts can be synchronized with Nimble contacts.

  2. Tools to synchronize your CRM and business cards

    A great tool that works with all the most popular CRM is FullContact. FullContact works with Zapier to import business cards into various CRM tools, and can automatically capture contacts from email signatures. All sales professionals have to do is keep sending emails and contact data entry gets automated. This is a huge time saver. FullContact is more than just a business card synchronizer. It is an address book hub that allows you to synchronize your contacts across multiple social media accounts. It keeps contacts up to date (picture, company, email address) and most importantly removes duplicates. Another good and popular alternative is MagneticOne Business Card Reader. As with FullContact, you can Snap a photo of the business card and it will import all the data directly into the CRM. 

  3. Tools to remove duplicate data in your CRMs

    Duplicate data is a pain in the neck for all CRM users. The consequences range from multiple spacing from inaccurate reports to taking the wrong decision due to inaccurate metrics. Unfortunately, there is no miracle! Duplicates are part of sales life; leads submit forms and sales teams input manual entries. The solution is to use tools that detect and eliminate duplicates automatically. For instance, RingLead and Data Cleanser detect and eliminate duplicates within Salesforce.

Avoid falling into the email trap

Email is the most important means of communication for most sales people (apart from their phones). However, salespeople shouldn’t be sucked into email administration.
Five kinds of tools can support a sales professional’s email productivity:

  1. Email tracking and lead scoring

    Saleswings is a fully automated add-on for advanced Lead Activity Scoring. Sales professionals send an email (Outlook or Gmail) with a link to the website and Saleswings identifies the most sales-ready leads based on their website activity as well as scoring their level of engagement/interest. The Saleswings lead scoring add-on also works with campaign tools such as MailChimp, forms and CRM such as Salesforce and Pipedrive. It automatically notifies the sales team about a lead’s interest, acting as an opportunity radar. This allows the sales team to focus their resources and time on the hottest leads.

  2. Email templates

    Here at Saleswings, we use Gorgias. Gorgias allows you to insert templates with shortcuts. and includes variables like the recipient’s name or the subject.

  3. Email personalization tools

    To personalize emails and avoid spending too much time looking for information about the prospect, I would advise salespeople to use Crystal, Charlie and Datanyze.
    CrystalCrystal can tell you what to write in an email or how to create a message that engages the person in a way they’d expect from you.
    CharlieCharlie synchronizes with Google Calendar and sends you a one-page resume on everyone you’re going to meet with, before you see them.
    DatanyzeDatanize has many incredible features, but one of the most unique is knowing which technologies your prospects are using. It is important to know if your prospect is using your competitor’s software or software that integrates with your own.

  4. Tools to keep track of time spent on emails and online in general

    There are a variety of time tracking tools available today, from those targeting time spent on a particular project to those tracking time spent on a particular activity online, such as emailing, blogging, micro-blogging, browsing, or just plain social networking. Two good tools are RescueTime and TwentyFive.
    RescueTimeRescueTime not only informs you about your daily activities but also allows you to set the number of hours you want to spend in a day on a particular site. RescueTime will alert you if you run out of time.
    TwentyFivethe main idea behind TwentyFive is to record your time using the Pomodoro Technique.

  5. Electronic signature solution to simplify & automate contract signing

    The advantages of an e-signature are evident for anyone who has ever had to deal with a paper-based signature. The latter involved a lot of paper waste and back-and-forth between the person that needed to sign and the company. Hugely time consuming!
    Thanks to electronic signatures, deals are closed faster and there is less administration involved. Signority is a great example of an electronic signature tool which offers the ability among many other things to let your sales team send a contract out and set automatic follow-up email reminders as well as notifications when your client has opened, viewed and signed the contract. This is incredibly important as following up during these key events can help lose or close many deals.

Optimize your route when visiting clients

Clients are often located in different parts of the city or country, so salespeople need to spend time organizing their day and scheduling visits. One hell of a job! However, there are tools such as Badger Maps that make field sales reps’ lives easier. Badger Map puts the user’s territory on a map on their device, showing them where their customers are and offering new leads that they didn’t know about. Basically, what it does is connect into the CRM and give reps access to the data in the CRM on a map, when they are out in the field.

In conclusion, reducing administrative work is essential to allow sales professionals to do their job – selling. Using just some of the apps above will allow you to cut your admin time. The real secret is to go digital, and to use a more digital approach.

About the author

The author Sara is a digital marketing specialist at Saleswings, a website tracking and lead scoring add-on. The software identifies your most sales-ready leads based on their website activity. It analyzes your leads’ past and future visits and scores their level of engagement/interest.

11 Essential Resources For Your New Paperless Office

11-resources-for-taking-you-business-paperless-esignatures-digital-signatures-electronic

Starting a digital office can seem a daunting task. You want to go in and go all the way – but what if you overlook a key aspect and everything stops working together? Not to worry. Here’s the list of resources you will need to utilize in your new paperless office. With nothing missing. Well, expect the paper.

Paperless invoicing

Freshbooks is a great service that can convert your billing and invoicing system to a secure electronic database. This “cloud accounting” service delivers a fast, accurate, easy to use, and professional interface for all your billing needs. Automated invoicing is available, as is integrations with Paypal and other online payment services. Use the system to generate reports, track expenses – even get the app to ride along.

  • $39.95 per month, plus $10 for each additional user; unlimited client entries and invoices.

paperless meetings 

TeamViewer lets you conduct paperless meetings and manage data within the paperless. You get remote access to any device 24/7 from ay computer or mobile device. Hijack your colleagues’ laptops to access data during meetings, plus use screen sharing, video and file sharing, included whiteboards, and teleconferencing to be effective and paperless. When meetings are over, upload slides and info to Dropbox or Basecamp easily and share the digital copies.

  • Licensing starts at $600 for three devices

Doodle and SurveyMonkey provide free service for conducting and scheduling meetings but don’t provide device connectivity and takeover capabilities.

Paperless scanning and faxing 

Turboscan is an excellent app that allows phone cameras to be used as scanners which then convert captured images to PDFs. High-quality photos are editable and may be stored and sent singularly or as large files.

  • $4.99 on iPhone or Android

Your office may also need a larger scanner for digital imaging. Here’s a PC World review of the best scanners for a paperless office.
eFax takes incoming faxes and puts them into your email box and easily-searchable emails. Send and receive faxes from any smartphone, tablet, or computer.

  • $15 per month

paperless memos and notes 

Evernote lets you organize notebooks of digital notes, tasks, and can sync all your devices. Whether you use a laptop or an Android phone, you can have all your notes and thoughts wherever you go. Circulate ideas between team members

  • Free

PAPERLESS payments 

Square and PaypalHere let you process credit cards from the convenience of any mobile device and send paperless receipts to customers.

  • Fees range from 2-3% per transaction

Shoeboxed lets you send your mass of paper receipts into the Shoeboxed office and receive digital versions in return. They’ll scan your papers and index them in your account, letting you get reports and integrate the data into your database systems.

  • Pricing starts at $9.95 per month for 50 scans

PAPERLESS signatures 

Signority streamlines the essential process of acquiring customer signatures with one seamless digital application. Send and receive signed documents via a user-friendly interface usable across any device. Great for the most agile businesses, sign PDFs instantly, edit and store documents with one touch, and move forward faster.

 
Looking to take your business paperless? Sign-up now and get free access to Signority’s Business Plan.

5 Habits of Highly Effective Insurance Brokers

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Do you use electronic signatures (eSignatures) for insurance?
Do you have the right contacts?
Are you on the right way to be the best insurance broker in the business?
As with any other profession, there are habits and best practices an insurance broker has to acquire in order to be on the top. I developed mine while working in the Canadian insurance industry for over 7 years, and I’d like to share them with you.
We all know that highly effective brokers use certain tactics to inspire confidence in their prospective clients to convince them on their choice. Which of them do you need to make a habit? Let us see!

1. Get yourself a good backup system

Whether it be the company you work for, your assistants or mentors, make sure that you have solid help to fall back on in challenging situations.
If you’re pressed for time, your eSigning service and means of communications should be ready for you. When what you need most is advice, your mentors should be there, and in cases where the key to getting a good deal is contacts and acquaintances then you should know where to go to get it.

2. Stay organized

Albert Einstein once said, “If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?”
To me a cluttered desk means an organized mind. While this may be true only for a few people, what is most important is that you get a system working for you.
Take your Post-It’s out, get some cheerfully colored highlighters, use bookmarks, red threads and pins, whatever works. Make sure you feel comfortable navigating this system and you’re set. What worked for me was getting all unnecessary items out of the way. I got my office paperless, automated my assistants and did most money transactions online. The time-saving was considerable and infinitely helpful.  

3. Stay up-to-date

If you want to crush the competition, the key is to know it well. Go to trade organizations, keep up with the latest news, know what you’re doing inside and out. Attending industry events will not only give you valuable insights, but also make you friends in the right places, and that is also highly beneficial for business.
Don’t forget to keep notes on what standard practices everyone around you is following. While some of them may end up not being right for you, you can learn from them. If electronic signatures for insurance or TeamViewer is a popular choice, then there might be a reason for this. Conducting meetings over Skype is saving your competitor money? Try it out!

4. Cross-sell

One of the best qualities an insurance agent should have is the ability to cross sell products to customers. Remember that just about everyone needs more than one policy; combining homeowner’s or renter’s insurance with car or life insurance. Getting clients to buy additional products or services is key to maximizing profits and offering your customers a good deal.
Don’t skip on offering a bundle of products instead of just one policy. If they agree on a deal like this then good for you, if they don’t, then you’ve just done some publicity for another of your products.

5. Follow-up

Follow-up.
Your clients will notice, potential buyers and colleagues will appreciate it.
According to Follow Up Success, even though, 80% of sales are made on the fifth to twelfth contact, nearly 48% of sales people never follow up with a prospect.
Don’t hesitate on the follow-up. Send your customer or potential a personalized thank you note. Even if you didn’t land the deal at first, keep the interests of your prospective client at heart and drop them a line in case you can fix something up for them, it can become a successful arrangement in the future. Establishing good relationships with clients and colleagues alike can become a good foundation for growing your business.
Looking to take your business paperless? Sign-up now and get free access to Signority’s Business Plan.

Going Digital: Modernize Your Business for Under $1000 Per Month

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Do you hear about “go digital or go home” initiatives and instinctively tighten your purse strings? Many entrepreneurs feel completely spent, and it’s understandable considering all the money they already shelled out to get their businesses off the ground. Let’s not mention all the money they may still owe the bank, friends, relatives, and crowdfunding sources that all contributed to the humble beginnings of their start-up.
And just when they think they are standing on fairly solid ground, someone tells them that the next trend is to go green by shifting to digital business practices. But here’s where they’re misinformed; going digital isn’t a trend nor should it be referred to as the “next big thing.” There is an undeniable progression towards digital operational processes and it has been gaining speed based on historical evidence. It was something that we explored in-depth and shared with you in our piece on The Paperless Journey: The Evolution and Future of Document Signing
First of all, digital business practices aren’t just about living the childhood dream of growing up in a world straight out of the cartoon “The Jetsons.” Going digital has become far more than just the ease of having everything automated or disappear into the virtual cloud and plucked out by voice control. Well, yes, it can be all those things but more importantly, digital business practices has become a social responsibility.
A digital transformation would mean a significant decrease in human error, having multiple devices access all your content, and information would be shared throughout your company easier and faster. You’d be cutting costs by reducing the need for printing, binding, and distributing documents which can all be done via email or digital system. Your people would be communicating more efficiently and getting their work done faster. Furthermore, you are contributing to the bigger picture by lessening your carbon footprint and changing your environmental impact.
Perhaps the issue here isn’t winning the argument on whether a digital transformation for your business is something you should desire but rather if it is possible given the costs it would require to make the shift. Do words like “investment” and “consider the returns” not sweeten the deal nor make you sound like Scrooge any less?

Paperless practices within your reach

But what if there was a way to go digital for less than $1,000 a month?
We’re not talking about cheap alternatives or knock-offs here. Many don’t realize that with the digital “trend” on the rise, more and more options are also riding the wave and developing services to help organizations go green. If you were one of those people who still think that technology costs more than a pretty a penny, then you will be surprised to know just accessible and affordable it now is.
You may think that modernizing your outdated business model will take thousands of dollars. But we said go digital or go home, not go big or go home; meaning you don’t need to make drastic changes immediately. Greener, more digitally driven organizations really start with individuals willing to make the shift.
Not only will going digital and paperless cost you less than $1,000/month, but it will actually save you money in the long run. Your digital beginnings can include signing up for paper-free billing for all your business correspondence with your vendors, suppliers, and utility bills. And your next step would be exploring all the options to modernizing your business.
We’ve done the legwork for you by finding inexpensive ways for your organization to begin its evolution to the modern, eco-friendly business model that so many other companies have already adapted to.
Whether your needs are email marketing or accounting, a cloud service will meet your needs taking into account your technological thresholds and more importantly, your budget. An excellent cloud service will guide you through everything from project management (PM) to customer relationship management (CRM) and even backing up all your precious data. And yes, all these suggestions for each department of your organization costs less than $1,000/month:

Administration

Good CRM software should go beyond tracking and maintaining client information and viewed as just a sales tool. If your company is still passing along information through a shared spreadsheet or long email threads, then it’s likely that you’re missing something or forgetting it entirely. CRM software keeps all your information in one place and organizes it efficiently.
CRM services like Zoho CRM, Insightly, Apptivo, and Pipeline Deals all offer free trials. CRMs can cost as little as $12/month to as much as $300/month. Find one whose services, apps, and add-ons apply to your business.
With business plans that are only $50 per month, Signority is trusted by over 150,000 businesses and individuals for their document signing needs. As a business owner, you deal with multiple forms and contracts that all need to be signed. Signority ensures your recipients can view and sign documents from anywhere and on any device.
You would spend less time managing the details because all your documents would be stored in Signority’s centralized location and easily managed with an intuitive dashboard. Our business plan offers unlimited documents, unlimited templates, bulk sending, bulk signing and electronic & digital signature. For those of you wondering how digital signatures work or the differences between electronic and digital signature solutions, this should help: “The Breakdown: Electronic Vs. Digital Signature”.

Information Technology

Yes, building an IT infrastructure for your business can become a mammoth task, that can take months to set up. You’ll be constrained by your limited resources, lack of expertise, time, and inability to understand the tech jargon. Lucky for you, software companies have taken into account non-teck folk — like me — by building tools that don’t require a master’s degree in computer sciences.
Virtual infrastructures and cloud-based data centers are expensive and probably not something you want to undertake at this point. If your only concern is making sure your data is secure, then a service like Dropbox guarantees that your data if protected against human error, hardware failures and any other reason under the sun.
Costing only $8.25/month or $99/year, Dropbox Pro gives you the option to subscribe monthly or annually and the subscription includes 1TB of space. Dropbox Business, on the other hand, is meant for organization and groups and depends on the size of your team and billing country. Dropbox Business for teams cost $12.50 per user and comes with unlimited space to work with.

Sales and Marketing

Depending on your industry, you may still need to take customer satisfaction surveys regularly. When was the last time you were handed a printed out paper survey? With so many people preferring to type or click buttons, we doubt that any of your clients will be happy to hand-write anything for you.
Zoho Survey is a survey management software that costs just $19 per month. You can create online surveys in a matter of minutes and reach your audience across all devices.
And at just $25/month, MailChimp will automate your emails for 1,501 – 2,000 subscribers for your email marketing campaigns. You can pay as you go as your email list grows. With Mailchimp, you create, send, and track your email marketing campaigns while also managing your contacts and segmenting your customers list. Furthermore, you can automate your emails to send on schedule without having to login and doing it manually.

Finance and Human Resources

With service rates that start at only $39.95 per payroll run, SurePayroll is not only affordable, but it takes about 10 to 15 minutes to complete enrollment and set up within five business days. It boasts that it the only full-service online payroll solution in the market by making all the calculations, paying and filing all federal, state and local payroll taxes while even working with IRS, if needed.
For your business, this means saying goodbye to writing multiple checks every month just to pay your people. SurePayroll is your digital option to paying all your employees including independent contractors and even hourly workers, including employees that are working in other states. Furthermore, SurePayroll offers the free option for clients to go mobile with their payroll through their apps for both IOS and Android devices giving you complete control wherever you are.
All in all, modernizing your business can be hassle-free and affordable — whether you are a small or large business.
Know of an app that’s has helped transform your business? Let us know, we’d love to add it to our list!
Looking to take your business paperless? Sign-up now and get free access to Signority’s Business Plan for 14 days.

The Future of Electronic Signatures and What You Should Expect

The future of Electronic signatures and general trends to look for

WHAT DOES THE FUTURE OF ELECTRONIC SIGNATURES LOOK LIKE?

When machines do the work of humans, “signing on the dotted line” will be a thing of the past. Until then, we may still need to pay attention to signing and getting documents signed — whether through paper or electronic signature. So let’s dive into it: what is the future of electronic signature?
It’s true that we’ve come a long way from Egyptian manuscripts, that served as contracts, to where today’s electronic signature gurus and futurists believe we’re heading towards — let’s just say it has a lot to do with biometrics and chips (secured under your skin) used to authenticate transactions.  
All in all, the future looks golden. But for now, let’s discuss why we think the market is set to grow.  According to a report from MarketsandMarkets, one of the largest market research firms in the world, the eSignature market is expected to grow to $2 billion by 2020. In another three years, the market will quadruple in size.
So, what’s driving this incredible growth?
There are three primary factors driving the growth and future of  electronic signatures and its market:

1. ONLINE Business continues to Explode 

More online business is good for the eSignature market. As more and more business moves online, more legally-binding documents are required to govern such business. eSignatures are a necessary part of online business, which is said to continue double-digit growth through 2020, when sales will top $4 trillion, according to a recent article by eMarketer. As one grows, so does the other.

2. ELECTRONIC security is more important than ever 

While the internet has made it easy for us to shop, socialize, learn and even work, it has also made us more vulnerable to fraud. It should be relatively easy to see the relationships forming here. As more business moves online, there’s more reason to protect that business.
Electronic signatures make it incredibly easy for business owners to protect their most important documents. eSignatures use a combination of public and private keys to encrypt and secure your important documents, further reducing the risk of online fraud. Most electronic signature platforms, similar to Signority, are built to protect you and your client’s information. Ensuring that you and your customer’s data is secure.

3. Businesses will always be in the business of making money: 

And eSignatures can drastically reduce operational costs, thereby increasing profit margins. For example, it costs U.S. businesses nearly $8 billion each year to manage their paper documents.
Going paperless can be quick, easy and affordable — in case you’re not aware, we recently did a how to go paperless post: “A paperless business and 5 ways you can achieve it now”. A paperless business brings drastic (and nearly instantaneous) cost benefits. In the end, money talks.
Even still, electronic signatures simply make sense for nearly all businesses, regardless of size or industry. It simply makes business easier while saving companies time, money, and unnecessary headaches. When it’s all said and done, it wouldn’t be the least bit surprising to see the global electronic signature market outperform its three-year projections.
Looking to take your business paperless? Sign-up now and get free access for 14 days to Signority’s Business Plan.

The Always Busy Syndrome: How Automated Operations Could Lead to More "You" Time This Holiday Season

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This time of year isn’t just crazy-hectic for those who celebrate the holidays. For the majority of businesses — even the one that are heavily automated — Dec 31st marks the end of the fiscal year. So even if they’re not partaking in the festivities, surely they’re feeling the pressure to wrap up it all up neatly, so none of the backlogs spill over into the next year.
I am by no means, lazy. A procrastinator, occasionally.
But when I first started my business, I had this bad habit of waiting until the last minute to take action. This was partially because I had complete faith in my hiring skills. I desperately wanted to believe that I could trust everyone I had handpicked to be on my team to deliver consistently on time. But I would always find myself poking in just before a deadline to see if the work was done. The majority of the time, it wasn’t.
I thought I was a pretty good boss. I had a great team. However, there was something seriously wrong with our business processes. And until we could figure out what it was, I decided to be that obnoxious boss who sat squarely on my staff’s shoulders peering into everything they did. And it seemed my team didn’t mind me monitoring them because it meant they didn’t carry the burden of monitoring themselves.
But about a year ago, the flurry of the holidays started to overwhelm me. I was missing out on more and more at home, with my family and holiday festivities. When I first started my business, I had promised that a time would come that I would enjoy an actual personal life and yet here the holidays were, and I was still unsure about going on the out-of-town trip we had already booked and had planned for months.
I started to realize that I had to loosen my grip on the reigns.
I knew 2 things at this point; first that I had to start small and second, I didn’t want to hire a personal assistant; not yet anyway. I figured that the best way to go about this was by looking at the aspects of my life that I could automate.

Automation in my personal life

So I started with my bills. For both my home and business, I decided to finally let my computer do some of the work for me and have my bills pay themselves. My main bank account had a sub-savings account which automatically paid for all my invoices. I no longer had to put time aside every time a statement came in. Now, I just needed to monitor my account every 2 weeks or so rather than manually pay a bill every time one was due.
As I started to feel this renewed sense of freedom, I realized that giving up control actually made me feel more in control.
Soon, I discovered other ways I could automate my life and just in time for the holidays. Did you know that you can automate things like shopping on a schedule to buying groceries? From all these great breakthroughs on how to automate my personal life came the realization that automating my business was the next step.

Why automating my life and business was so important 

Work-life balance seems like a myth. But I have found that all myths are born from legend, and somewhere out there is someone who has discovered how to finely tune all the elements of their life into one seemingly perfect mechanism.
We’re talking someone who wakes up and has time to take a few moments to meditate, recite their intentions or speak to their higher power. Then proceeds to a routine that involves a shower — that isn’t rushed — and an actual breakfast — that wasn’t last night’s cold leftovers nuked in the microwave. This person gets to work on time, with a moment to spare to have a cup of coffee and engage in small talk with colleagues before settling into a productive day of real work.
This legend finished up their work day on the dot, because they executed all their tasks so efficiently. There is no need to go overtime thus impressing the boss with their stellar time-management skills. They don’t cost the company more money because of their inadequacy to get things done within the reasonable time allotted.
I think about this person who after work now has the freedom to do anything. They could be headed to after-work drinks with colleagues or friends. They could be headed to the gym to workout, go for a swim, or a yoga session. Maybe they’re headed home to help their kids with homework. Or perhaps they are even taking evening classes.
The point is, after work, they are actually living their lives.

Why Work-Life-Balance starts with Work 

Those of us who think this life is unachievable simply haven’t grasped what makes it possible. Simply put, it’s a routine. It’s also about the bigger picture and us not seeing the details that went into that seemingly perfect day unfold.
This work-life-balance legend of a person may appear to us like a fully-automated robot, but in fact, they are probably happier than us tenfold as they go through their days and still have adequate time to be with the ones they love and do the things they want to.
Here’s a real myth – perfection. It’s people who have discovered work-life balance that know that perfection is unrealistic and have long let go of desperate desire to attain it.
Do you suppose that the only thing automated about this picture is that those who have found the balance between work and life are the ones who utilize automation in their routines, particularly in the way they work?
For most of us, the reason we can’t reach that work-life balance is that work weighs us down to the point that we cannot tip ourselves centered. But for organizations whose cultures have steered towards a work-life balanced environment, they have discovered that eradicating all the tedious processes and substituting them with automated processes has result in wasted time and frustration — which is the key to making the most of their workforce.
People who enjoy a balanced work-life are probably those who belong to organizations who value their skills and have discovered that automating processes doesn’t necessarily diminish that human element but rather, complements it.

Automation: introduction and implementation

So, I decided to put my theory to the test and find ways to integrate automation in the everyday operations of my business. I started with automating the easiest processes first, particularly the ones that were most prone to human error.
A company who is on the verge of going fully automated doesn’t need to go big right away. They can evolve at their own pace and automate the easier processes first. This allows their employees to adapt as the organization starts to make the shift, allowing the organization to eventually embrace the changes and feel less that it threatens their jobs.
Organizations today are inspired by the leaders and innovators who have taken automation for their companies to the next level. You’ll hear about companies who have been voted as “The Best Place To Work” and wonder “why?”. Sure, there’s probably free food constantly, flexible scheduling, and enormous nap rooms. But really, it’s these companies that looked at their people and wanted to not only make their work easier, but also wanted to improve the quality of their lives thus keeping them for longer.
We as an organization started to define our processes and began determining which steps could be automated. Sure, our never-ending email exchanges, sticky notes, and countless trips to the water cooler were all fun ways for us to pass information along but it was horrible for business. It was time wasted and susceptible to error, miscommunication, and misunderstanding.
Because of the nature of our product, we were already running a paperless business (read more on how to make your business paperless on this post), but we still needed to automate digital workflows. This led us to find an automation partners. They helped us automate our workflows starting with the way we communicated with each other. Workflows were streamlined and accessible on visual dashboards. Every person on my team could monitor their own progress and even keep records of it for future use in presentations. Productivity was at its highest as no one was no longer asking who was doing what and if they were in fact, doing it. We were minimizing costs because of the significant decrease in human, manual errors.
Soon, I could see the transformation of my business. Not only were our processes more defined and our strategies more successful resulting in an increase in sales, but my people were happier overall. They had more time to get their work done on time and more importantly, done right. No one was charging me extra for overtime! They were no longer dragging their feet into work in the morning and dragging them out the door every night. My team was living proof that there could be balance in work and life.
So while we think that the person who encapsulates work-life-balance is a living legend, perhaps we should also give the companies they work for a huge chunk of the credit.
Looking to go Digital? Sign-up now and get free access to Signority’s Business Plan.