When you are running a business it is and essential part to keep good records. Be it filing of your important documents such as invoices, contracts or bills, or Maintaining good records of client invoicing on the computer.
The biggest consideration for filing documents is taking into account the size of your business. The main reason to take size into account is that it can be easy to go a little overkill. While it also does not take long for the amount of filing to overwhelm at the same time. The bigger your business becomes the more you need to make a plan for how to handle the paperwork for your business.
For a small business that does not create many invoices and does not receive many bills, then all that may be needed is a simple expanding file. Filing paperwork either by month, or by type of document. The most important consideration at this point is to not fall into any bad habit’s that can cause you grief in the future when you need a larger scale filing system.
GROWING THE SYSTEM
There is any number of paths that you can move on to once an expanding file becomes to small. The first step is a File Box, they tend to use the same hanging files as a filing cabinet, but provide a smaller option then a full filing cabinet, but is larger and more sturdy then an expanding file. This also helps to provide good in between to move to a filing cabinet later on, which if your business is growing will be an inevitable move you will make.
WHAT TO DO AT THE END OF THE YEAR
For the most part it is essential to maintain your business records, for at least 5 years, if not more depending on the requirements of the government tax department. For the most part it can become quite space consuming to maintain the records for this amount of time in any of the mentioned filing systems. The best idea initially is to put all the records into archive boxes, depending on the size of you business you may only need one box for a full 5 years of records, or you might need multiple boxes per year.
Either way at some point unless you have a lot of spare space, you will want to consider a archiving company that will store your archive boxes, and save you a lot of space. This should all be part of your plan, and it is better to plan for this earlier then later, when you have a lot of records all mixed up and needing a lot of time to sort out.
While most of your records are often going to be paper based, there is a good chance that you will also have if nothing else your financial records store on a computer. These records are just as important as the paper based records as it often takes a lot longer to generate usable reports from paper based records then electronic records.
Staying up to date with entering invoices, bills and client payments is the key to keeping good current records on the computer. Additionally keeping good back-up’s will save you from losing this data should the worst happen. For more information about back-up please see the piece is wrote about back-up’s on my other blog at No Fixed Office.