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7 Reasons NOT to Go 100% Paperless

Why going 90% paperless makes more sense

In our culture, we often feel that if we don't do something 100%, we're not doing it well. But in the case of going paperless, that's CRAZY.


We've found that going 90% paperless is ideal for most people and most businesses. It's what makes sense and is cost effective.

Here are 7 of the biggest reasons why:

Reason #1: Some documents must legally be kept in paper format.

For example, imagine showing a picture of your driver's license to a police officer or a photo of your passport to a customs agent. It simply won't work.

Nonetheless, we suspect you'd be surprised at how few documents legally need to be kept in paper format -- the list is VERY small.

Reason #2: Converting old documents often does not make good sense.

When people think about going paperless, often the first thing that comes to mind is what a monumental effort it would be to scan all their old paper documents. Since this can be overwhelming, they decide they can't afford to go paperless.

Backfile conversion (as it's called) is a totally different process from going paperless moving forward. Although it's a common industry standard practice to do backfile conversion when you decide to go paperless, you do NOT have to scan all your paper files -- right away or ever. In fact, you almost definitely shouldn't. (We certainly didn't.)

After all, how often do you need to RETRIEVE all that information? The answer for 80+% of your existing information is probably never!

So why would you waste your time and money scanning all this information that you'll probably never retrieve?

Reason #3: Other people and businesses may not cooperate.

Some people will fight you tooth and nail to hold onto paper. If it's not your employees or customers, it's your creditors and vendors. Someone will always want some paper from you, or want to send you some.

Reason #4: Typically, there are VERY few benefits for that last 10%.

We've watched people drive themselves crazy and beat themselves up over the last 10%. We don't want you to experience this frustration.

Reason #5: The last 10% is often the most expensive and is rarely cost effective.

In fact, naysayers often point to this last 10% for why you shouldn't go paperless at all.

Reason #6: People simply prefer paper for some things.

Some people love the feel, smell or experience of reading a paper book. Others like to take meeting notes using paper. Still others love their Moleskins. And so on.

There's simply no reason you can't go mostly paperless, but use and keep paper when you want.

As an aside, one of our personal favorite examples is this video called "Between the Folds." Frankly, when we heard about it, we thought it would be really boring. So we were amazed by how captivating it is. We've recommended it to dozens of people and they've been equally surprised. Check it out:

Reason #7: Sometimes, paper is the best solution.

We like paper for some things -- we certainly don't want to give up all paper.

(Yes, we know about the Japanese toilets, but still...)

Finally, although we've found that going 90% paperless is the ideal situation for most small businesses, you don't need to do it all at once. You can take baby steps.

You might first go 10% paperless, then 20%, and so on. We highly recommend that you do what makes sense for you.

Please let us know what you think of this article by commenting and asking questions below.