Digital receipts, online bank statements and cloud-based document storage are the norm in today’s business world. Some business owners may wonder whether they truly need physical copies of any documents at all these days. However, some important documents should always exist in both physical and digital form.

To that end, a panel of Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) members answered the following question:

“While moving all your business files to the cloud or other digital storage may seem more convenient or secure, what is one example of a document you want to make sure you have a handy physical copy of, and why?”

Here are some of the documents worth keeping around.

1. Articles of Incorporation

“Having a physical copy of the articles of incorporation for the business is something I find important. While this document is technically on file with the state, having it on hand is the only proof I have that I own the business if, for any reason, it’s called into question or I need to access important information about the business when dealing with banks or government entities.” ~ Richard Fong,

2. Business Certifications

“You want to have hard copies of certifications and licenses that your business requires for regular operations. Certain facilities need certification for food preparation or manufacturing, as one example, and if they vanish in cyberspace then you can potentially violate regulations.” ~ Duran Inci, Optimum7

3. Tax Documents

“Tax documents should be available in all forms as much as possible. It is a must to have a handy physical copy of your tax return, especially during an emergency.” ~ Daisy Jing, Banish

4. Password Lists

“It is probably best to keep master passwords offline and in secure or hidden areas. Keeping a copy of them online is easier, but it can lead to password lists getting ‘out in the wild.’ It is better to go old school and keep them under lock and key in the physical world.” ~ Peter Boyd, PaperStreet Web Design

5. Contracts and Permits

“With the rise of cloud computing, documents are stored on servers across the world instead of in the office space of your business. There are many benefits of doing business this way. But documents that are important for running the company have to have physical backups as well. I’ll say that contracts and permits are very good examples of such documents.” ~ Samuel Thimothy, OneIMS

6. Your Business License

“Many companies today only have their business license and other key business documents in digital format. But electronic systems can fail, and some regulations actually require that documents be kept on the premises. You should always keep physical copies on hand. Not to mention, having certain documents like your business license on display builds credibility with customers and employees.” ~ Blair Thomas, eMerchantBroker

7. Your Business Plan

“When moving your business files, make sure you keep a physical copy of your business plan handy. Your business plan is the blueprint for how your brand will grow and how to get from one step to the next. It’s important to keep it safe while having a copy on hand that you can access in case anything happens during the file transfer.” ~ Stephanie Wells, Formidable Forms

8. Awards and Diplomas

“Yes, you may want to keep hard copies of tax documents, employee contracts and other contracts, but don’t forget to keep hard copies of any awards or diplomas! A framed hard copy of your diploma is a great way to visually remind your clients (and you) why you’re so amazing. You can coordinate certificate frames to match your office colors as an extra touch.” ~ Shu Saito, All Filters

9. Insurance Documents

“When moving to the cloud, keep hard copies of important financial records and insurance documents. These would be most damaging to have fallen into the wrong hands should there be a security breach or the possibility of data losses. Your business plan should be dynamic and easy to recreate, in multiple places, but the finances and insurance should be stored as hard copies in a safe place.” ~ Matthew Capala, Alphametic

10. Business Operating Agreements

“You should always keep a physical copy of important business documents. In most states, for instance, you’re legally required to keep a physical copy of your operating agreement if your business is an LLC. You should also keep physical copies of your business licenses and permits to ensure you’re compliant with regulations.” ~ Vikas Agrawal, Infobrandz

Image: Depositphotos

This article, “10 Documents Business Leaders Should Always Keep Physical Copies on Hand” was first published on Small Business Trends

Source: Small Business Trends

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