It’s 2015! Where are our flying cars, vacuuming robots and work documents that are signable, sharable and living only on screens?
The 1970s cartoon show The Jetsons had a lot of fun futuristic high-tech gadgets right (cell phones with Facetime!), but even today nine out of 10 workplace documents are still printed onto paper. That means paper waste must be managed and disposed of as well, particularly if it contains sensitive information. The New York Police department learned this the hard way when, during the 2014 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, it sent tons of confetti into the air that contained sensitive information from private citizens.
Small and medium-sized businesses cannot afford mistakes on this level. These enterprises must take document shredding seriously, and save themselves some money, goodwill and reputation in the process.
Don’t Fall into the “It Won’t Happen to Me” Mentality
Paper Waste Threats to Small-Sized Businesses
Most paper really, can be tossed in the trash. No one cares one bit about it. Problems arise when sensitive information like social security, bank account, credit card account, and other numbers fall into the hands of criminals, litigants or business rivals. According to the FBI, stealing information through printed documents is still far more common than using electronic means. Small and medium-sized businesses suffer when:
- a rough sketch of a new product fall into the hands of competitors
- business plans fall into the hands of competitors
- a scrawled note results in a court action
- a scrawled note is used in a current court action
- copies of social security cards or numbers become public
- private health information is leaked to public sites
- private legal or financial information is leaked to public sites
Small-sized businesses rarely have the legal team or the legal budget to successfully defend themselves in court during these crises. Legal action often results in bankruptcy and the dissolution of the business all together.
It’s challenging, too, that small businesses cannot afford to employ their own administrative professionals to create the system or process for discarding of this sensitive waste. Often, they haven’t been in business long enough to even realize they’re putting themselves at risk by not addressing their excess or out-of-date documents. Finally, they do not have the budget to buy expensive shredding equipment ($2,000 and more per machine), pay for its maintenance and dedicate employee time to the task. No wonder the rest of us stand in awe of the successful small business. Their obstacles are legion.
A Small Business’s Very Own Convenient and Affordable On-Site Shredding Service
Until a business grows large enough to bring a document team in-house, it can protect its good name and revenues by contracting with a shredding service, much like it does a temp service or accounting service.
Shredding services make security paramount and customer convenience, central. They deliver disposal equipment at the beginning of the month and ring back at the end with a big truck that may shred right there on the business’s street, using high-security pierce and tear cross cut shredding.
More impressive, the on-site disposal equipment is designed to ensure that the service technician is never handling sensitive documents. Documents are locked inside secure equipment during each stage of the service process. Before leaving the small business, the technician signs and turns over an independent, auditable “Certificate of Destruction,” freeing the small business of any responsibility from there after. Talk about a load off!
If your small-sized business doesn’t have it’s own in-house document management team, consider a paper shredding service, particularly if you are in the medical, psychological or legal fields. Keeping old, useless documents not only requires expensive storage space, your company may not want them found. It’s perfectly legal to dispose of documents after a certain number of years, depending on the document or any court action involved.
Lifts Loads (of paper) from Small Businesses Shoulders!
Small businesses must view themselves as large enough to deserve professional document disposal. While recurring service could be useful, owners or managers can typically choose monthly, quarterly, bi-annually or annual service. Many shredding services are also happy to have “drop-ins” where a business owner and/or employees bring in multiple boxes for “witnessed” (owner gets to stand and watch) or “unwitnessed” (owner/employee takes off) shredding. Shredding techs have plenty of “Certificates of Destruction” at the shredding factory.
Small-sized businesses often keep documents as a safety blanket. While owners hate to let them go, if you have a proper document retention procedure in place, destroying your files responsibly will only make your business run more smoothly. Shredding companies can also destroy CDs, hard drives, DVDs, x-ray slides.
Much like deleting your gmail inbox or taking the stuffed animals to Goodwill, the pain is fleeting, but the relief? Long term. And think of the counter space!
 Mancini, John. “Eight Things You Need to Know about Getting Rid of Paper.” Association of Information and Image Management. 10/2011