Many owners view filing systems as a necessary evil since by taking the time to set it up and maintain it doesn’t help make money for their business. So, they quickly file papers in groups that may or may not be appropriate just to get it out of the way and give them more time to do things that help them make money. But, then they get frustrated when they can’t find what they were looking for in the future. The reality is all businesses need to keep retrievable files and need to have systems in place to manage this paperwork no matter how large or small the business is.
If you feel this way, keep in mind, by keeping your papers and other reference documents organized, you will be saving time when you need to file AS WELL AS when you need to retrieve something. By keeping these papers organized, you will also be able to retrieve them in those rare emergencies like tax audits. It will also help you when you need to do your taxes each year. Visit Tips To Be Better Prepared for EOY Tax Return for more help on getting prepared for doing your tax returns.
Here are some suggestions for what to keep in your small business files. Review and set them up sooner than later. You will be happy that you did.
Seven areas to have organized in your office files
1: Individual client file folders and client “in” boxes area
Each client should have their long-term client file folders with contact information and other correspondence in it. Then, they should have an “in” box bin like the one below to hold current projects that you are working on in your office. This bill will separate the current with the long-term storage and make the stuff you need to go through less frustrating and less stressful.
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2: Business General file area
This area includes papers like rent, utilities, etc.. Bills to pay and bills you already paid works nicely in this area. You can also use this space for Petty cash and keep track of your general receipts in this area. I like to use an accordion folder to store receipts. They have different sizes depending on how many receipts you get over the course of a year. Here are examples from Amazon of a smaller receipt accordion folder.
3: Payroll paperwork and payroll tax area
This is crucial for all businesses. Remember this doesn’t just include payroll it also includes subcontractors too. Anyone cost of labor you may have needs to be stored properly to make it easier for you to manage. Using binders work nicely for the different agencies to keep the papers straight. Include in the binder the federal, state, Unemployment paperwork, and local payroll tax payments can be stored using tabs and binders and be stored together. Visit How to organize employee records for more information on how to do this.
Want to create a binder for bookkeeping and payroll papers? Visit our post: How to Create a Well-Organized Small Business Bookkeeping Binder
4: Reference paperwork area
Resources and research you may use for articles, advertisements you created or wish to use, inspirational items, etc… can be stored in this area. Make sure you will use these items before saving them because this area can get out of hand fast. Be specific on why you are keeping these things.
5: Accounts Payable area
Sort this area by the due date of invoices. Then, have an area for paid bills. An in box works nicely for this area as long as you do not keep old papers or not needed articles in it. Think of it this way; this bin is ONLY for “bills to be paid.” When you paid the bills, the container should be empty. Visit Accounts Payable Tips Every Owner Needs to Know to get more information about this area.
6: Accounts Receivable area
And, this area is an important one if you want to keep track of your invoices. Sort your Accounts Receivable area in ABC order by client name. Having a folder for ‘open invoices’ (unpaid invoices), and one folder for ‘general paid invoices’ works nicely to cover the random invoices you may be sending out. Visit 9 Things Every Owner Needs To Know About Accounts Receivable for more information about how to keep your invoices organized.
7: Inventory area
And the last area is for owners who have inventory. This area needs to be really organized. Make an organized area for products to be sold. Keep a folder for your suppliers’ receipts and a separate folder for your receipts after the sale of products. Keep your state sales tax collected receipts and submitted payments in an area that is easily accessible at tax time. This method will make sure you pull them to make sure you paid everything before the end of the year.
Other paper management tips:
Here are more tips to help you with your office papers. Don’t forget to clear out these files each year will make your filing cabinet less cluttered and more useful. Visit Tips On How Long I Should Keep Business Records this post will help you figure out what to keep and what you can shred and remove.
After setting up these systems, it will save you time and money because you can quickly find what you need. I hope this helps in your business system. If you need help with your small business, I can help you!
And, if you really need help with remembering the purposes of each of the file folders, check out this color code infographic by Quill.com to help you determine what color to use when you set up your filing systems.
Well, I hope this helped you get your office papers in tip-top shape for a successful business. Do you have tips to help you get your office organized? Please leave a comment below so we can continue the conversation.
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