Electronic signatures are becoming a first port of call for removing the friction and time from paperwork. Not long ago we might have talked ourselves out of them, thinking they wouldn’t be accepted. But, they’re widely recognised in all kinds of business today. (See here for a fast guide on the legality of eSignatures).

If you’re looking for a good place to start, or wondering where else you can apply eSignatures for fast efficiency gains, we’ve assembled our top 10 ways for small businesses to use the most popular tool in the DocuSign Agreement Cloud.

Top 10 uses for eSignature in SMB

1. Sales contracts

Sales contracts power many businesses. In fact, they’re so critical that letting them out of your sight can cause significant stress. On the other hand, routing sales contracts electronically makes them fast to turn around and traceable through every signatory.

One industry where electronic signatures have gained broad acceptance is real estate. DocuSign has been a part of tens of millions of real estate transactions… and counting.

Business examples: B2B sales, real estate contracts, service businesses

2. Vendor/supplier agreements

Small businesses can find themselves at a disadvantage in negotiating with vendors. For this reason, it can help to lock in the price and terms quickly. Acting fast to cement a vendor contract, as soon as both parties reach agreement, can secure a more favourable outcome.

Business examples: retail, consumer and business services

3. New customer forms

If you ask new customers to complete a form or other paperwork to do business with you, electronic signatures have a place in your business. Not only do you stand to save on paper and printing costs, you could eliminate the rekeying of data, saving you valuable time and freeing you from errors.

Business examples: healthcare service providers, doctors’ offices, beauty salons

4. Change orders

Change is the constant when it comes to project-based business. Scope can creep, and unpredictability is a certainty. Or else, clients simply change their minds. Adding electronic signatures to change orders let’s you navigate mid-project changes seamlessly and avoid holdups, while maintaining a complete, documented “paper” trail for review in the cloud at anytime.

Business examples: architects, web designers, construction.

5. Customer approvals

For businesses that deliver anything custom-made, that last approval prior to manufacture is critical. Not being able to put your hand on approvals can leave you exposed. Electronic signatures let you capture and store approvals with ease, so you can quickly move on to completing the order.

Business examples: print shops, custom art/furniture

6. Employee onboarding

There’s a seemingly never ending trail of paperwork associated with hiring someone. Contact forms, benefits enrollment, payroll forms… the list goes on. It’s  easy to handle those documents securely and swiftly using electronic signatures. And when you do, your employees’ first impression of you is amazing! (As we know, first impressions last).

Business examples: any with more than one employee

7. Intellectual property licensing & other legal agreements

Because DocuSign electronic signatures are legally binding with a court-admissible audit trail, they are ideal for common legal documents, like intellectual property licensing.

Business examples: franchise stores, technology companies

8. Non-disclosure agreements

In a competitive world, non-disclosure agreements provide security, enabling you to do business more freely. Using traditional pen and paper, they’re highly inconvenient. It’s all too easy to misplace them, it’s hard to check up on them, and they often go overlooked. With electronic signatures, instead they can be signed on a mobile device, remotely or in-person, giving you the reassurance to enter into discussions with confidence.

Business examples: employee NDAs, licensing negotiations, protecting IP

9. Distributor/channel agreements

If partnerships with dealers, distributors or other sales channels are core to the success of your business, electronic signatures can make it easy and more attractive to do business with you.

Business examples: technology companies, wholesalers

10. Parental consent & age verification

Whether you work with kids or need to verify the age of your employees to serve alcohol at your restaurant, electronic signatures can integrate with ID verification solutions to make it easy.

Business examples: kids’ camps, school field trips, permission slips

If this has inspired you to try electronic signatures for yourself,  sign up for a free trial and see what you think. Or, if you’re already a customer, browse our Knowledge Market to gain ideas for expanding the ways you use DocuSign.