McDonald’s serves 68 million people in 119 countries. Starbuck’s changed the world by reinventing the way we drink coffee. You may think you have nothing in common with these instantly recognized companies, but you’d be wrong.

While you may not sell burgers, fries, or coffee, you share a trait that’s just as important as the products/services you sell. You, McDonald’s, Starbuck’s, and 6300 other companies all have paper Certificates of Ownership.

In the digital age we’ve moved away from hard-copy papers and legal documents, but while other documents have gone from paper to virtual, paper certificates are still around. In many states, having paper ownership (like stock certificates), is no longer required by law. Even though it’s not required McDonald’s and Starbuck’s plan to keep issuing them. At Dodge Legal, we recommend you do the same.

Although it costs more money and effort for us to issue paper ownership certificates, Dodge Legal doesn’t charge anything extra for “paper” costs. (On a larger scale, the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association estimated it cost $250 million per year for companies to issue and distribute paper stocks in 2004).

So why do I have my small business owners issue their own paper Certificates?

Paper certificates are issued when you take that major step of creating your corporation or LLC. Paper haters say having these certificates is a waste because they just end up being ignored in a safe deposit box. But we think it’s important for you to have paper certificates because they make your dream of owning your business feel “real.” Your certificates are proof that your business is no longer a thought in your head or “just a hobby.” They show that you’re taking your business and yourself seriously.

The book “Write It Down, Make It Happen” by Henriette Anne Klauser, tells us that writing down our dreams is the first step to achieving them. I believe you should see your ownership in writing and hold it in your hand. I believe you should have a tangible showing of your investment in yourself and your business future.

Paper certificates also build good will and public relations credibility. Some companies take this to a whole new level. Playboy, for example, once created shares with an image of Miss February 1971. They were so flooded with requests that they had to switch to a “less exciting” design. What a way to sell shares!

Although the certificates we create aren’t quite so stimulating, showing your own investors Certificates with your own company name (and a very respectful soaring eagle) still gives you the “street cred” your company needs, without making your mother cringe.

If that’s not enough of a reason. . . .

Paper certificates are secure legal evidence that you complied with the law and issued ownerships interests. If you only have digital versions of your certificates, an untimely computer crash could mean your “evidence” of issuance is gone.

Some paper certificates are even “cool collectibles.” A paper “Missouri Kansas Texas Railway Company” stock certificate signed by Rockefeller goes for about $2000 on

Even if your certificates don’t become collectibles, imagine you showing your grandchildren (or great-grandchildren) your own company’s Certificates, seeing their little fingers run over the embossed seal with your company name on the Certificate, and explaining that one day it might be theirs to run and own. Imaging the look of wonder in their eyes when you show them the touchable version of your legacy.

In our high-tech world, virtual documents have their place, but when it comes to your ownership certificates, there’s nothing quite like the feeling you get holding them in your hand.

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