Going Paperless

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					?About a year after I had opened my business, things were good: plenty of work,
plenty of resources, and burgeoning success. However, there was one problem which
was gradually threatening the future of my business: paper.

Every time I would have to start working on a file I would dutifully search through
my file cabinets. At first, this task was easy as breathing. And when I was finished
with the project, I would have to place it back in the filing cabinet from where I had
retrieved it. To my astonishment, I realized after several weeks of leaving the office
by 10:pm how time-consuming paper really was.

I set out to fix this problem by hiring an employee to help with the paperwork. For the
sake of brevity, let's just say that didn't work out. After instructing my employee to
tabulate some very basic information, I found to my dismay that their work was
completely wrong. Consequently, I stayed in my office until 3:AM furiously undoing
the tangled mess.

When that did not work out, I sought the sage advice of a "pro": an organization
"expert". To my amazement, the "expert" appeared puzzlingly stone age in their
approach to information management. For their consideration, they required a $2,000
retainer, for teaching me how to organize the files in my cabinets. And just so that
there was no confusion, I was told that the expert would not actually help with any of
the organization of the files. Instead, I would be lectured on how to "think outside of
the box" as to how to best organize my files.

At the end of each lecture, I would be given "homework" to do with respect to
organizing the files in my office. And to that end, I was also admonished that if my
"homework" was not finished in a timely fashion, I would be given a surcharge for
my failure to do so. Needless to say, I scratched my head and said, "Excuse
me…homework?". And throughout the entire conversation I was wondering what sort
of technical expertise was involved with arranging files alphabetically,
chronologically, and so forth. Rocket science, for sure.

Throughout our conversation, I was wondering when the organization "expert" would
broach the topic of going paperless. To my astonishment, the subject was not covered.
After I caught my breath and my common sense, I asked about going paperless.
Stuttering, and stammering I was told in vague terms that there were options available.
The "expert" was dispensed.

Exasperated, I proceeded to succumb to common sense. I went out and got a sheet-fed
scanner, and a copy of Adobe Acrobat Professional. To this day, those two products
have been the best investments I have made. Although Adobe is anything but
user-friendly and the instruction manual is almost comical, I eventually figured it out.

The beauty about going paperless is the fact that to retrieve a document, all you need
to do is to click on the files in your computer. Invoices, reports, newspaper articles,
e-books, pdf's, photos, etc. were magically all at your fingertips. No more trekking
back and forth between the file cabinets. No more commuting back and forth between
offices to pick up a misplaced file. Everything at your fingertips. Perhaps the best
thing is the fact that you do not even need to put the files back! Just click the "X"
button, and the file dutifully vanishes back to where it belongs.

After I had finished digitizing all of my files (this took a very long time), my work
days were literally cut from 12 hours a day to around 5-6 hours a day. I got to go
home early. I even got to take a vacation here and there.

My recommendation to all small and medium sized business owners is to go paperless
as soon as possible. And if you are already a year or two into your business, you
should strongly consider hiring an employee (or other company) to digitize all your
documents. The longer you wait, the tougher it gets. Like Denzel Washington likes to
say: "You can pay now or you can pay later."

setting up a business
Owning your own business