A fierce storm blows through your town in the wee hours of the morning.
Upon waking up a few hours later, you discover there appears to be no damage. You make it to your office, and as soon as you walk through the door, your secretary looks at you with a terrified look.
“Everything is gone! The power must have fried the computers!”
And you realize that you’re in deep trouble.
The Importance of Physical Documentation
When it comes to any effective disaster recovery plan, physical documentation is always a key component. In 2012, more than 50 percent of businesses endured a disaster or unforeseen interruption. Of those businesses, 81 percent had to close their doors for at least a day.
Doing so can result in thousands, sometimes millions, of lost dollars. According to a 2014 report, 20 percent of reported losses were in the range of $50,000 to more than $5 million. But physical documentation of records makes it simpler and quicker to continue daily operations after your computers go down.
A computer can glitch or even turn itself off at any time. There’s never a 100 percent guarantee your files are safe. With physical documentation, though, you know where your records are, making them easy to access. And because paper is cheap — often cheaper than digital cloud storage — physical documentation is cost-efficient.
What to Document
Many businesses choose to keep most of their records in digital format. Still, those who are prepared for disaster will choose to keep hard copies of all important documents.You should, too.
Important documents include:
- Corporate bylaws.
- Tax forms.
- Client information and records.
- Articles of incorporation.
- All IRS and government correspondence.
- Financial records.
Understanding Your Options
You have two basic options when it comes to storing your physical documents. You can either store them yourself or outsource the task to a trusted service provider. Your physical documentation storage needs will be what determines your best option.
If you either have too many documents or not enough room, outsourcing storage will kill multiple birds with one stone. A self-storage solution would provide you with the space you need to keep your files safe. A full-service document storage provider, which is more expensive, would be able to help with documentation, printing, and organizing in addition to storage.
The drawback is that when the inevitable storm blows through and your computers fry, having your documents elsewhere slows down your recovery time.
It’s always best, if possible, to store documents in a location that you have quick access to — whether that be in your office, at home, or at a storage facility. However, facilities are ideal for accounting and tax records, medical files, and business records in particular. The cost per square foot at a facility is cheaper, and it will allow your business to keep its retail office clean and avoid using premium office space for files and boxes.
Regardless, there’s no excuse not to have physical documents. It’s easy, it’s cheap, and most importantly, it’s convenient and helpful for your business. Feel free to roll the dice, but the weather forecast calls for scattered thunderstorms tonight.[su_box title=”About Cris Burnam” style=”noise” box_color=”#336588″]Cris Burnam has been working in the self-storage industry since 1987. He has served as president of StorageMart since founding the company with his brother, Mike Burnam, in 1999. Cris grew StorageMart from a single self-storage facility into the world’s largest privately owned self-storage company with 163 locations across the U.S. and Canada. Cris was named a 2014 EY Entrepreneur of the Year in the Services and Real Estate category (Central Midwest region) — one of the highest honors an American entrepreneur can receive.[/su_box]