The Paper Trap: A nightmare for you and your business

by JohnnyKnox

Whenever there were problems you were always ready to devise a solution. All were in control. Your business grew, could sustain itself without any loans and prospered.

I remember when I was younger I had long discussions with friends. There we argued about the choices we will make with our lives. These were passionate discussions.

We all were young and full of hopes and believed that if we made the right choice, all things will become easier. We were sure of ourselves, certain that we will not repeat mistakes that we recognized in others. We gave examples of people we knew that their lives took the wrong turn and their example should be avoided and others that maybe we could learn things from.

The discussion moved on and went beyond the profession we would like to do on to a difficult question which went like this: if you had a choice, one definite life choice what would you rather be? A worker or the owner of a business? 

It was clear enough to many of us that being an owner of a business had more advantages than being a worker. First of all, it seemed obvious that there was much more freedom of movement, more space for creativity and innovation. A businessman makes decisions; he does not have to follow orders. There is no one putting limits on the work he produces, no one to tell him how, when and what to do. This was our dream. And we all know, when you dream, you put aside all those important details that might stain the clarity of your vision. There is no space for banality in dreams. Otherwise, we wouldn’t follow them. But life, is never that simple.

Hand-Files
Hand-Files

Some of us went to college, others didn’t. Then some followed their dream and started their own business.

It usually goes like this: You have an idea that could work. You decide to build a business around it. And it does work! Your idea of a product or a service is better or lasts longer or runs faster or withstands more than others already in the market.

Whenever there were problems you were always ready to devise a solution. All were in control. Your business grew, could sustain itself without any loans and prospered. All looked perfect.

But then you noticed something annoying. Everywhere you looked you saw papers, piles of papers. Every day it passed things looked worse. You got used to the situation and you didn’t do anything. Time passed and it just didn’t bother you that much anymore. It might have bothered you, but not enough. There were other, more important things to worry about. Like the quality of your work, deadlines that needed to be met and a cash flow that had to keep on going.

Document Scanning
Document Scanning

Piles of paper not “filed” where never your first priority, not that important or interesting.

And then it happened. You just didn’t expect it. You never thought that this could really become a problem when you started your business. It never had a part in your dream as a young man. But here it was. A government agency asked for some specific papers. And it was absolutely necessary to find and send them in time. But you had “slept” for too long. There were always other priorities. And now, you find yourself inside the paper trap. A nightmare that consumes you and your business!

Everyone who ever had a nightmare knows, the first step is to realize that what you experience will eventually end. Similarly, the moment you realize of the situation you are trapped in, is the moment you can start changing the situation.

 I am going to give you those necessary hints that will save yourself and your business from such unpleasant situations. I am going to guide you outside the paper trap and back on your path. Dreams don’t have to transform into nightmares, don’t you agree? 

Digitizing Paper Files
Digitizing Paper Files

So what do you do first? 

Well, you start by digitizing your paper files. Let’s make it more specific. What you need to do is to start a document scanning program which will be efficient. How do you do that?  There are certain steps that should be followed. I will tell you the basics: 

  1. It is important to realize that different documents need to be stored and maintained for different periods of time according to the information they contain. When you establish the retention requirements for those different file types, you will know what needs to be scanned first and you will have a guideline for digital logging.
  2.  Scan only what needs to be scanned. It seems similar to the step above but it is different. Your time and budget is not indefinite. Use them to scan documents that are retrieved more frequently than others. It is not just how long they need to be contained but also how often you need to use these files. 
  3. Paper cannot be dismissed completely. There are reasons that certain files have to stay on paper therefore you have to keep in mind that your goal is to create an office with less paper not an office with no paper at all. Less paper is more efficient than no paper at all.
  4. Decide how to handle documents after scanning. After you finished with scanning you have to decide which documents have to be stored and what needs to be shredded according to the type of information they hold. Contact your governing authorities to learn about the length of time you need to keep specific types of documents after you have captured them digitally. There will be documents that you will need to keep for a period of 3 months, but there will be other that you will need to keep indefinitely, so organize your files accordingly.
  5. Finally, if you think that your needs require the help of a professional, before you decide to collaborate with a document scanning service provider, check for specific features and services:
  •   A process management that will include all steps necessary, from digitization, to meta-tagging, to cataloging and archiving
  •   Look for a company that its history can guarantee you about the safety of your documents including emergency document retrieval services, and the ability to automatically monitor records
  •   Highly trained staff that have proven their excellency in the field that will provide guidance when necessary and inform you on the best practices, even after hours. 

When you first dreamed of owning a business you only thought that all you need is an idea. Reality is quite different. Starting a business isn’t an easy task and running a business for a long period of time is a complex process with aspects that sometimes we forget of their importance. One such important aspect is paperwork. Taming paper is not an easy task. But it can be done. And when it is done, life can be made easier for you and your business, saving valuable resources and time for what is really important for you: doing business the best you can, making your ideas real.

This was your dream, remember? 

Three Best Document Scanners for Going Paperless!

Doxie Go - Rechargeable Mobile Paper Scanner

Doxie Go scans anywhere - no computer required. Doxie is a different kind of document scanner that scans paper, photos, and receipts anywhere - no computer required. Just charge...

View on Amazon

Fujitsu ScanSnap S1300i Instant PDF Sheet-Fed Mobile Document Scanner

Instant PDF color portable document scanner.Included item: USB cable, USB bus power cable, AC adapter, AC cable, Getting started guide and Setup DVD-ROM.

View on Amazon

NeatReceipts Mobile Scanner and Digital Filing System - PC

NeatReceipts works where you work - weighing in at less than a pound and powered by USB, NeatReceipts is the perfect tool at work, at home or on the go. NeatReceipts helps you f...

View on Amazon

Updated: 10/08/2013, JohnnyKnox
 
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blackspanielgallery on 07/24/2015

Good thing we have computers now, with backup.

JohnnyKnox on 11/20/2013

Yes Rose,it will definetely help you put things in an order!!
Thanks for dropping by and commenting!

Rose on 11/19/2013

I need to get a scanner too - I've got too much of my stuff on paper

JohnnyKnox on 10/10/2013

Thank you Emma. Appreciate you nice words.

Guest on 10/10/2013

Scanners are a wonderful invention, and I appreciate your recommendations. Your article is clearly written, thoughtful, and helpful. Thank you.

JohnnyKnox on 10/09/2013

It's also safer, Tolovaj as you can keep back up copies and you can simply print any paper you need in a physical copy.

JohnnyKnox on 10/09/2013

That would save you a lot of space Maggie.

Tolovaj on 10/09/2013

I try to scan all important papers because it is much easier to find a scanned document than real one. At least in my case:)

MaggiePowell on 10/09/2013

I need to do this for personal papers... sometimes the desk gets just too deep.

JohnnyKnox on 10/09/2013

It is, indeed! Thanks!


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