If you are like most business owners, you prefer to focus your time and energy on serving your clients and growing your business rather than on paperwork. For many business owners, paper quickly piles up due to lack of time, interest or good filing systems. But when papers are not well organized, time is lost looking for documents when they are needed. In the long run it saves time to set up an efficient filing system and develop habits to maintain it.
A good business filing system should include categories for different areas of the business rather than having all types of paperwork grouped together. Below are some general suggestions for categories that work well for many business filing systems.
- Clients: Keep files for individual clients filed alphabetically by client name in a file drawer to save contracts. Paperwork associated with active clients could be filed in a desktop action file or other portable system for frequent quick access.
- Accounts Receivable: Sort AR invoices alphabetically, and have separate folders for invoices that are due and those that are paid.
- Accounts Payable: Sort AP invoices by due date, and have a separate file for invoices paid.
- Business Expenses: Create folders for general business expenses such as lease, utilities, etc.
- Payroll: Have a section in your file drawer for payroll and payroll tax documents.
- Inventory: If you sell products, create a separate area in your file drawers to organize folders for your suppliers, your receipts after the sale of products, sales tax documents and submitted payments.
- Reference: This section includes resources, articles, research, catalogs, product ideas and other reference materials.
No matter how well organized a filing system, it will quickly fall apart if not maintained. To keep a system working well requires developing good habits like spending a few minutes each day putting files away and making time each week to catch up on any filing that has accumulated. Not only will this save time and make it easier to find what you need, it reduces stress and helps you stay focused on your more important priorities and goals.
We offer consultation, individual hands on support and workshops to help people create better ways for managing paper, set up efficient business systems and develop productive habits. Contact us to learn more.