Where to Begin?
When I began my home-based business, I put plenty of thought into how to market the business—but I never thought about organizing my records. When the second year of my enterprise rolled around, I discovered the taxes I owed were higher than necessary because I hadn’t saved receipts. I had to backtrack and retrieve many of the documents that I’d accumulated during the startup of the business.
Do It Now
If you’re just beginning your business and starting a home filing system, tips and tricks like these will save you money and keep your records organized. If you delay setting up your files, you’ll reach a moment when you realize that you’re overwhelmed by the idea of organizing records that already should have been filed away.
You don’t have to be a computer genius, and you don’t need to spend an arm and a leg. Go out and buy a small filing cabinet. Don’t think for a minute that you’ll just throw your original paperwork into a shoebox or stash documents on a shelf until a rainy day: Do it now.
Even if you’re strapped for cash at the outset of your venture, get a small, inexpensive filing cabinet at a place like Walmart or an office supply store for well under a hundred bucks. While you’re out, buy a box of manila file folders. Don’t get a pack of just ten—splurge on the box of 100. Buy labels if you have the money, but otherwise just choose a pen that feels good in your hand and buy several so that you can label your files. Save the receipt!
Now you’re ready to designate file folders for a wide variety of categories. Your specific categories will vary depending on what type of business you have, but the list below is pretty comprehensive. Remember, too, that as your business grows, you are going to be both a supplier and a customer. You are going to be a supplier of products or services for your customers, and you are going to be a customer for the companies that supply you with the items you need to run your business. You’ll need to mark your files accordingly.
Keep Written Records
You can also download a free Excel template that will help you in starting a home filing system. It contains pages to help you categorize your transactions, record both expenses and income, maintain information on both client and non-client contacts, and begin listing your equipment inventory. Tips for using it are notated after each item below: