Business Filing System

Managing all the information that a small business generates can be overwhelming. And despite the constant push to go paperless, we aren’t at that point in our information structure to be able to go without a way to manage documents.

I’ve seen lots of different paper management techniques (alphabetical, numerical, alpha-numerical, binders, folders, etc). And although each company is unique, I have found that a customized, color-coded, categorical filing system works best for most small businesses.

Here are a few ways that I recommend setting up your filing system…

filing system

{Make it Categorical} –  I separate items into major topics that might include Business Administration, Advertising/Marketing, Clients, Vendors, etc. Then you can subdivide into individual categories like banking, credit cards, licenses, taxes,etc. without mixing administrative documents with reference.  I recommend using generic categories instead of specific names like where you bank or credit card. That way anyone can find the information no matter where you bank and if you change vendors the location in the filing system won’t change. And if specification is necessary, say you have more than one credit card, then use manila folders inside the hanging file folders to differentiate.

{Make it color-coded} – I recommend using colored hanging file folders for each topic. This way you can visually see where each topic is located without even having to read the label. And if you take a folder out its easy to know where it belongs, making maintenance automatic.

{Have an index} – Instead of trying to remember where you put that paper on specific suppliers, have an index that you can quickly cross reference.  I recommend having a paper version and an electronic version. This way you can search via computer or just by glancing at the page.

{Make it straight} – This may seem strange, but if you want to add categories and your tabs are staggered, you will have to move each tab in order to see the next one. Keep it simple by having each tab in line, removing any extra work for future expansions.

{Know what you need} – Most businesses don’t require that much documentation for tax purposes.  We tend to keep more than we need.  For some guidelines, check out the IRS recordkeeping recommendations.

{Create Design Boards} – For creative businesses I recommend organizing design boards to help visualize products or ideas.  This is a physical space that can help frame in specific ideas and provide inspiration for a particular product or brand. This is not a place for every cool item that comes across your desk.

{Maintain the files} – Annually review your files.  I prefer to do this at the same time I do my taxes. It helps keep me up to date on the health of the company and gives me time to remove items I no longer need.

And if you need help creating a customized filing system for your business, we offer virtual organizing services. Feel free to contact us for more information.

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One thought on “Business Filing System

  1. Pingback: Organizing the Executive: Create a Reference Library | Organize Professionally

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