file of my employee's records), you can go paperless in a lot of ways to help save the en-
Do yourself a favor, though, and if you do “clean house” and think about tossing all of
those old bank statements, invest in a paper shredder to protect your identity.
The thought of going “paperless” is no longer a distant dream for small businesses. New
and changing technology has provided us with some tools that we need to transition the
clutter in our businesses to a digital, online format. It really doesn't mean that going paper-
less is easy to do, however, and I personally still have a need for an original signature at
The major con of the paperless environment is data failure. Yes, a digital copy of your em-
ployee's resume is quick to find and see, but it can be gone or become corrupted just as
quickly. If you're going to go paperless, that means there will be extra expense investing in
an additional redundant backup system that will keep all of those files safe and protected.
While you're at it, that system should be housed in a second location for security reasons.
Speaking of security, digital files are susceptible to online or network “attacks.” A paper
file can never be seen by prying online eyes because a computer hacker cannot break
through your firewall, crack your computer password, and then open a locked filing cabinet
in your office to read your data! There is still some peace of mind in keeping your personal
life and your business life “offline.”
I've often thought about going paperless, and it's not as easy as it sounds. It's certainly not
an overnight process either—there are a lot of factors to consider. It takes time to fully un-
derstand the ramifications and implications of leaving the “papered” world behind, and if
you're years into your small business, you might prefer to avoid the thought of a paper-free
workplace. In any case, there isn't a clear-cut answer for every business, and ultimately the
choice is yours to make. Do your research so you can decide for yourself if the pros out-
weigh the challenges.
Legal & Ethical Issues
Legal issues and business ethics are a broad-spectrum topic and should ultimately be
handled by your lawyer. But typically, these topics fall into a few categories:
n Avoid breaking the criminal law in your business activities. n Avoid action against your
customers that might result in civil lawsuit. n Avoid anything that is bad for the company's
Why is this important? The result of any of these three things more or less will cost you
business money and will diminish your business reputation. At startup, you will rely on
your personal morals to conduct your business. Once you begin to grow and add employ-