Ever feel like your drowning in sea paperwork that gets higher and higher every day? You’re not alone.
A 2012 study has shown that small business owners reported that they can often spend 1-3 hours every working day on administrative tasks, and nearly half felt like they had to work out with regular of working hours to simply catch up.
Continually organising paperwork is bound to be a horrific drain on resources, which could be best spent elsewhere so why not get it right first time? An an effective filing system will help you take away the strain and clear up clutter. We’re in the height of Tax Return season so now is as good a time as any to get organised.
Most UK businesses are required by law to keep tax documentation for at least 7 years. The good news: HMRC will now accept digital copies, which means no more bulky paperwork on your desk. These days, many businesses use this to their advantage and have an electronic method of filing, as opposed to the old fashioned ring binders or expanding organisers. Having everything saved your computer makes sure that files are easily accessed; it also ensures that files can be backed up to avoid any mishaps or file loses. Just make sure you have a reliable backup.
Keep it simple
For smaller businesses, a simplified filing system is usually best. Firstly create a folder for every single year you have been in business. Get some index dividers and further divide e.g. you may include sales invoices, bills, bank statements and tax documents. You can also create folders and sub folders for each individual client that you have, therefore allowing you to contain all clientele information. There’s no right or wrong way here, it’s personal preference. Some of my clients arrange bills by date, others alphabetically by supplier – choose whichever suits you best.
De-cluttering and getting rid of paperwork are also effective methods of organisation in the office. Most companies now keep an online account of your bills from 12-14 months so if you do need to look up something you have already binned, you can usually request this from the company directly.
Bank statements (if you still receive paper ones) can be kept for around 1 month, most banks keep an archive of any statement made so you can have a paper copy sent out if needed (check your account type as some banks charge for this).
Once you’ve got a filing system in place, I recommended that you dedicate a small amount of time to this every week. A little and often is my motto. This ensures that you are keeping on top of your filing every week, instead of waiting for a monthly or quarterly update. This also means you won’t have to worry about receipts and invoices building up on your desk.
Do you have any further tips on effectively organising your financial paperwork? Please comment below so we can share with all our readers.