Aussie small businesses due for a paperwork overhaul


Dealing with the influx of paperwork, invoicing and receipts can lead to disorganised paper trails and messy offices stacked high with manila folders. The average small business gets 100 invoices a week, stacking up to 5,200 a year, and despite the large number of digital tools available, more than three quarters of small businesses are still tucking these documents away in shoe boxes.  

In fact, research released today by Xero shows disordered admin paperwork and filing is a problem affecting more than 50 percent of Australian small businesses. The research revealed how chaotic paper-based systems can impact various aspects of a small business including time efficiency and higher admin costs.

Commenting on the research Trent Innes, Managing Director of Xero Australia, said, “The data shows us there are still many Australian small business owners who aren’t using technology to find day to day efficiencies within their business and cut down on time consuming manual processes.”

“Aside from making it incredibly difficult to keep track of business expenses and cash flow, paper-based receipt/invoice systems become very costly and time consuming.”    

A quarter of small businesses store all of their receipts and invoices manually while more than two thirds of small businesses are storing a portion of their receipts and invoices in boxes or files. Although a minority, around 4 percent of small businesses have no storage system for their receipts and invoices.  

The research also revealed the costs incurred by businesses on paper administration such as printing ink, paper, storage and disposal, with around 13 percent of businesses spending $1000 a week on average and a total of 3% spending more than $5000 per week.

The daily time spent processing these documents can severely impact productivity and efficiency for businesses which will negatively impact their bottom line. Nearly 40 percent of small business dedicate several hours a week to processing invoices and receipts and around 15 percent are bogged down with more than 200 invoices to process every week.

Businesses that have been up and running for more than ten years were more likely to be using paper systems, accounting for around 40 percent. Younger businesses, operating for 1-3 years, only accounted for 8 percent of businesses using paper systems which shows a promising uptake in digital technologies.

Small businesses can hugely benefit from implementing tech tools to overhaul their admin process.

Sydney restaurant Nomad Wines has switched to using Xero software to help them with their 500 invoices from suppliers each week.  

“Being able to hand over and automate these sections makes me much more comfortable with taking time off when I need, because it’s all online and easy to see,” said Rebecca Yazbek, co-owner of Nomad.