8 Important Examples of Small Business Paperwork Systems

business filing system

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Part of keeping your system going is having a designated place for the things that still need to be filed or the things that are currently in use. By keeping all those items in one spot, it should be fairly easy to round everything up when it’s time to maintain your files. All of your files should be easily accessible for the people who need them. If you have to, separate certain files from others so you can keep them near the department or desk(s) of the people who need to access them often. When purchasing a cabinet or container for your files, Isip says you should choose something that’s a bit larger than what you need at the moment.

business filing system

Unless you’re a solopreneur, you’re probably not the only one in your business who will be using your filing system. If you want your system to actually make an impact, you need to make sure that it makes sense to everyone and that it will be easy to maintain once it’s set up. Being able to read file labels sounds obvious, but clarity in labeling will save time. Most companies that make labels provide templates that integrate with common word processing software.

How do you implement a computerized filing system?

“Client files” organized by client name would be another filing system. If you have essential paper-based documents that must be retained permanently, create a dedicated place within your filing system for those documents. Your traditional system can hold all your long-term papers such as prior years’ taxes, permits and business licenses, and intellectual property registrations. You can use a digital system to store your ideas, such as Evernote, and track projects.

The digital world hasn’t completely eliminated the need for paper storage, but it has made storing information much easier. Digital systems can create, send, and manage invoices, and they can track your home business finances and then be imported into tax software for e-filing. You can scan receipts and have them stored in a file on your computer (although you should probably keep the paper version as well). Electronic systems can store your clients, customer, and prospect information in a customer relationship management system for easy access, emailing, billing, and more. Online systems can be used to save your ideas, help you manage projects, organize information, or research. Broad subject categories will allow you to easily add new files as you grow and will eliminate the need to upgrade or reorganize your filing system regularly.

How to Categorize Receipts for Taxes

The Federal, state, and local tax agencies, require a well-organized and private area to keep all these critical documents. Visit our posts below to make the right digital or physical binder. Since each business has different types of documents that need to be sorted, it’s important to customize the system to your own needs. That means you need to set aside some time to actually go through the items you need to organize and think about the categories you may want to include. Seth Odam invented the first FreedomFiler in 2001, setting a goal that no one should have to clean out a filing cabinet again.

business filing system

Create separate destinations for legal and business papers and licenses, and for documentation of items you enter into your ledgers, such as receipts and invoices. Organize your licenses and documents either by type of license or by time frame. The next small business paperwork systems are for old client activities. Pulling these files out and placing them in a different place will allow more new clients to appear and give you room to update your focus or direction with the new clients. Place these files in a less accessible place in your office, like in a back closet.

What are the differences between traditional and computerized filing systems?

For example, you may have a binder system to help you organize day-to-day management of your business such as your schedule, marketing, and copies of your forms. Once you set up your filing system, make sure your team knows exactly how to file new items or maintain existing files. You should also set aside a bit of time each week or month to go through and make sure everything is in order. If you want your business to operate as efficiently as possible, you need to get organized. A simple filing system that’s easy to keep up with can ensure that all of your important documents and items are easy to find at a moment’s notice.

  • For digital systems, you will need to have your folders organized by the category or type of system, like “Bills paid 2023,” which would be one folder.
  • Learn more about the benefits of computerized filing systems below.
  • While this system can be digital or physical, you most like have references that you use for your business or your career.
  • This digital system can be software- or internet-based, or a simple folder/file system on a computer.
  • Don’t overlook the importance of accessibility for employees or future employees who may have special mobility needs.

This term is used to refer disparagingly to an approach to filing in which everything simply goes in the same box until you have time to deal with it. If you hold meetings with vendors and clients in your office, you may not want to build your filing system out of materials that appear unprofessional or haphazard. Using a spreadsheet app, you can add all this information above to help you get organized. Include the app links so you can immediately click through and pay bills without searching for different websites.

Current projects are key to success, especially if you work in an office and deal with lots of paper. Keeping all your client papers in one space will ease up your stress. The key is to find the right size bin or hanging folder that works for the number of papers you have. I particularly like having a stack of bins, one for each client, stored away in a locked cabinet to protect my client’s information.

Small Business Owner Interview Series

Office filing systems come in all forms, from the simple cabinet drawer, to complex assortments of digital servers. In order to create a system that works for you, it’s important to know what files are most important, who needs access, and how they can be retrieved easily and efficiently. Even so, you’ll still want a system to manage the paper that does get generated. The key is to find the system that is easy for you to stick with and find the information you need when you need it. This list is handy for new staff so they can learn your business’s digital filing structure immediately. For digital systems, you will need to have your folders organized by the category or type of system, like “Bills paid 2023,” which would be one folder.

Even in this digital world, it’s surprising how much paper a home business can accumulate. Further, there is so much to track in a home business, such as your financial accounts, marketing strategies, projects, customers, and more. It’s essential to develop organizational systems early in your business to ensure you’re able to find what you need when you need it. During your brainstorming session, you should go through all of the documents you currently have and use in your business. This can help you come up with some general categories or files that you’ll need to create.

Important Examples of Small Business Paperwork Systems

However, you still need systems in your computer to be able to retrieve files when you need them. While we talked about a billing system above, this would be how you take care of your support paperwork, whether digital or physical, in your office. This is key to showing that your deductions/income is legitimate.

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