There are a number of things that can pile up in a business owner’s life. (Is there anyone out there who isn’t a business owner?) From taxes to insurance to licenses, you have to keep track of many things as a business owner, which means dealing with paperwork. If you let paperwork pile up, you’ll find that it’s a big distraction and a big-time suck.
It may sound like a cliché, but most businesses are founded on the idea of avoiding the paperwork. In fact, people who start a business because they hate working in an office are a subspecies of entrepreneurs known as a solopreneur. So, how do you keep on top of it all?
Keeping on top of paperwork is a crucial part of running a successful business. It’s particularly important to ensure that your finances are in order: you don’t want to accidentally lose a critical financial document! Fortunately, there are tools that can help you keep on top of paperwork: you can buy a filing cabinet or use a filing software package.
With technology making it easier than ever before to store important documents and records, you might assume that the paper filing cabinet has been relegated to the trash bin of history. But the truth is that filing cabinets and desk drawers are still an essential part of most businesses, and they need to be organized if they’re going to be useful.
Here are some tips to help you get started:
- Make sure you’re not getting swallowed by paper piles. Let’s face it. Paperwork often piles up quicker than you can say, “I’m drowning in paperwork.” From memos to payslips to purchase orders, paperwork is a reality of the workplace. The amount that you have might be stressful, but it’s not nearly as bad as not knowing what’s floating around in a mess. And, in the case of receipts, it may be more than a pile of paper that you have to keep track of. It may be receipts that have been kept for multiple years.
- Have a system in place. This means using the right storage containers/trays where you stack up the paperwork, filing it by its due date, and then, once a month, you will sort it into relevant files.
- Stay on top of what you have by using a filing system. The biggest mistake a person can make when it comes to handling paperwork is to simply pile it all up on a shelf in the study. You’re better off with a filing system that allows you to access what you have in a logical way. The most popular system is by year, with a separate cabinet or drawer for each year.
- Figure out what to keep and what to throw away. You should keep any paperwork related to your business, but you can throw away things like old credit card statements and personal bills you don’t need anymore. Another good rule of thumb is to make sure you can find what you need in under five minutes. If you can’t, you should probably throw it away or file it.
- Embrace technology to keep your paperwork under control. It’s the 21st century, and you’re working in an office. What’s the first thing you should do? If you said embrace technology, then we agree. As the saying goes, time is money, and keeping on top of paperwork takes you away from being able to do the things that are important for your business. The good news is you can reduce your paperwork pile down to a manageable size and even automate it so that you don’t have to worry about it anymore.
Keeping on top of paperwork is a lot harder than it seems. There are times when we just can’t find a particular document and end up wasting time looking for it. But who has the time to go through all of their paperwork and throw out what they don’t need? Those days are gone, though.
The solution is all digital. In fact, the trend is to do more and more paperwork on a computer, leaving filing cabinets as relics of the past, like typewriters. The day is coming when the only paper documents you have are the ones you print out. With a good digital filing cabinet, you can keep all of your documents in one place, making it easier to find what you need and get rid of the rest. You can even share the digital filing cabinet with your co-workers and clients, making it easier to collaborate and work together as a team.