10 January 2024

11 Examples of Small Business Documents You Should Keep in Print

By Ronald Smith

As a small business owner, it’s crucial to keep important documents in print form. Why? Let me explain.

First, having hard copies of these documents ensures that you always have access to them, regardless of technological hiccups or internet connectivity. They serve as a tangible backup, providing peace of mind in case something goes wrong with your digital files.

Second, physical documents can be easier to read and navigate compared to their digital counterparts. You can quickly flip through pages and find the information you need, without having to rely on search functions or scrolling endlessly.

Now, let’s take a look at 11 key small business documents you should definitely print and keep within reach:

1. Business License: A printed copy of your business license shows that you are legally authorized to operate. It’s an essential document that you may need to present for various purposes.

2. Tax Returns: Keeping print copies of your tax returns helps you track your financial history and file accurately. They also serve as a reference point for future tax filings.

3. Business Plan: Your business plan outlines your goals, strategies, and objectives. Printing it ensures you have a physical reminder of your vision and a reference for potential investors or lenders.

4. Contracts: Print copies of agreements, contracts, and legal documents are crucial for maintaining transparency and resolving disputes. It’s wise to have physical evidence of any agreements made.

5. Employee Handbook: An employee handbook provides guidelines and policies for your staff. Having a printed version makes it easy for everyone to refer to important information about the company’s expectations.

6. Insurance Policies: Hard copies of insurance policies, including liability, property, and employee coverage, protect you in case of emergencies. You can easily access necessary information during stressful situations.

7. Permits and Certifications: Printed permits and certifications establish your compliance with industry regulations. You can display them prominently and access them when needed.

8. Financial Statements: Physically storing financial statements, including balance sheets and profit and loss statements, allows for easy comparison and analysis. It helps you keep track of your business’s financial health.

9. Intellectual Property Documents: If you have patents, trademarks, or copyrights, print copies are vital for proving your ownership and protecting your intellectual property.

10. Customer Contracts: Printed copies of customer contracts and agreements serve as evidence of the terms agreed upon. They can protect you in case of misunderstandings or conflicts with your clients.

11. Important Correspondence: Any critical communication, such as letters, emails, or memos, should be printed and saved. They provide a record of important conversations and agreements.

By keeping these essential small business documents in print, you are ensuring their accessibility, protecting yourself legally, and building a solid foundation for your company. Embrace the power of both digital and printed formats to safeguard your business’s success.

11 Examples of Small Business Documents You Should Keep in Print

I gotta tell you how amazing technology is these days. Offices are going paperless, can you believe it? We’re talking about creating, signing, and sending important documents all online! Plus, we can easily store them for everyone to access. Pretty cool, right? But wait, don’t go throwing out your printer just yet! Hear me out.

So, I had a little chat with some smart folks from the Young Entrepreneur Council. I asked them this: Nowadays, most business stuff happens online, and hardly any documents are printed anymore. But there are still situations where you need a good ol’ physical copy. So, what’s one document that you absolutely should always have in print, and why?

Why Print Some Business Documents

Let me share what the YEC peeps had to say:

1. Your Company Values

I gotta say, there’s something special about having things printed on paper. It just makes them feel more real, you know? Being able to touch and hold them, jot down comments, or even toss them in the trash adds a whole other level of tangibility. Personally, I’m a big fan of having our company values printed and right there on your desk or up on the wall. It keeps them fresh in your mind and serves as a constant reminder of who we are (and who we’re not). ~ Corey Eulas, Factorial Digital

2. Contracts

When it comes to documents, there’s one type that I think you should absolutely have on paper and stored online: contracts. These are serious business, y’know? Important negotiations and legal stuff. You never know when you might need to refer back to it, so it’s always good to have a hard copy handy. ~ Jacqueline Marrano, Marrano Solutions, LLC.

3. Licenses, Permits, and Official Documents

Let’s talk about why it’s a good idea to keep paper copies of your business licenses and permits. You see, there are often regulations that require you to do so. Plus, any documents with an original signature or a raised seal should definitely be kept in a safe place. Digital copies won’t properly display those seals, and many organizations won’t consider them to be original documents.

4. Be Prepared for Emergencies

Now, it’s really important to have a physical copy of any information or procedures that you might need in case of an emergency. Imagine if you couldn’t access your computer – having a paper backup would be a lifesaver! This could include things like emergency contact information, fire safety procedures, office evacuation plans, and business continuity plans.

5. Focus on Your Goals

I don’t use pen and paper anymore. Everything is stored on my computer or my phone. I also believe in being eco-friendly and reducing paper waste. But if I were to actually print something, it would be my goals. I have a list of goals for different time periods – every three months, every year, every three years, and even every ten years. I review this list every month to make sure I’m staying focused and on the right path. ~ Jean Ginzburg, Ginball Digital Marketing

6. Your Resume

The one document you should always have a physical copy of is your resume. It’s a good idea to bring your resume to an interview as a handy reference. It also shows that you are prepared and take the opportunity seriously. ~ Vladimir Gendelman, Company Folders, Inc

7. Passwords

I have an important piece of advice for you: make sure to have physical copies of all the passwords you use every day. It’s not a good idea to store that kind of information online, as it could be susceptible to hacking or identity theft. Keeping it offline is the way to go!

8. Stock Certificates

Now, when it comes to issuing stock to your business partners or employees, it’s essential to have both a physical copy and a digital copy. Having a backup is crucial in case the hard copy goes missing. Typically, employees will receive a hard copy once they’ve exercised their option to purchase the stock. It’s always better to be safe than sorry!

9. Any Files Crucial to Your Operations

I find it useful to have certain documents in print. These include contracts with clients, files with important information about our staff, and reviews that we do twice a year. We also keep handbooks that outline our company policies, with one copy for each employee. We proudly display our company core values, so we have them printed out. Additionally, we have visual dashboards that show our sales and how we’re progressing towards our goals for each quarter. We also have to keep up with the required HR postings from the corporate office, insurance, and the state government. ~ Joe Beccalori, Interact Marketing

10. Payment Receipts

Even though digital receipts are convenient, it’s still important to be able to print them when needed for taxes or other documentation. ~ Serenity Gibbons, NAACP

11. Your Business Card