How to Organize Your Small Business Records

If you want to run a healthy and successful small business, taking care of your records is necessary. When self-employed, you already know all about other stressors that go along. There will be interviews, Facebook ads, and many other procedures you will have to conduct. Well, we are happy to tell you managing your business paperwork shouldn’t be one of those stressors. Bringing a sense of order to your business records will give you a feeling of control over the administrative side of your business. When everything runs smoothly in this respect, it will reflect on other factors, such as your eligibility for tax credits and loans. Therefore, let’s see how to organize your small business records and keep things flowing!

Steps to take if you want to organize your small business records

Usually, when the business year comes to a close, everyone starts sorting out what to keep and what to toss when it comes to business paperwork. The fact is that we tend to keep things far longer than we use them. However, some business records are required to be kept for a certain period. 

Still, having the ever-so-growing pile of paperwork all over your drawers and shelves won’t look good or be functional. That’s why it would be wise to consider renting out a storage unit to keep everything safe and in order without tripping over piles of records you don’t need at the moment. Nonetheless, note that you will probably need a climate-controlled storage unit.  Paper is sensitive – you can’t risk it getting damp, for example. Only a unit that offers special conditions can keep your documents safe. 

For all the organization process that awaits, you’ll need to establish a system, supplies, and so on. So, let’s take a look at the necessary steps to take if you wish to organize your small business records.

1. Get the materials and supplies

The last scenario you want to have is papers scattered across your office. And once you decide to change that, you realize you don’t have what’s needed to start. 

So, before you start with anything, make sure you have what you need. Some of those things might be:

  • file folders
  • binders
  • shredder
  • labels and label markers
  • a safe for documents of high value

You’ll need to purchase things depending on your current organizational system, business, and your goals. The point of this purchase is to make sure you have everything necessary to create a functional organization system for your small business.

2. Come up with a system that suits you best

It might not seem easy to come up with the perfect one right from the start, but there might be a way to make it easier. The best way to approach your organizational system is to ask yourself the following question:

If I were looking for this document in the future, what would I search it under?

The categories you choose will depend mainly on your small business type. However, once you establish a functional physical system, you will quickly identify and sort all the documentation. For example, sorting by clients, year, or other time frames, by type of document, or by category might be some of your options. 

3. Take one area at a time

If you are looking for ways to sort out your small business paperwork, you must have different documents tucked away in other places. So, to avoid getting overwhelmed, it would be good to focus on one area at a time. 

Make the process more manageable by starting with the probably overflowing filing cabinet. Then you can move to loose papers scattered around your office or the pile on your desk. 

4. Organize paperwork you need to keep in categories

When going through all of your business documents, it’s essential to know how long you should hold on to those to satisfy your business reporting requirements. To help you decide what to keep (and for how long) and what to toss, try making the following categories:

  1. Documents you need to keep forever
  2. The ones you need to save for seven years
  3. Papers you need to keep for three years
  4. Documents you need to keep for one year
  5. The ones you need to keep for IRS
  6. The ones you can get rid off

Having these categories will help you “declutter” and make a selection among all the paperwork. But, then, it’s advisable to create subcategories we have mentioned above based on what suits your business best.

5. Accessibility should come first

Using the system, categories, and subcategories you established, it’s time to start filing your records. So, consider which ones need to be most easily accessible as you put them where they need to be.

Following these steps means you’ll store things in a way that makes the most sense to you. For example, perhaps your insurance policy should be stored further away in your filing cabinet, while you might want to keep your client’s contracts near your reach. Whichever way you choose to do this, it will undoubtedly help you maintain your startup business and be successful.

6. Have digital backups

This step shouldn’t be optional nowadays, but a must-do. For all the paperwork you are sorting, it’s worth taking time to make digital backups too. This way, you’ll have peace of mind as you’ll always be able to access the information you need.

Also, it will ensure your documents are safe in case of a worst-case scenario, like a flood, earthquake, or similar disaster.

7. Have an upkeep plan

Congratulations! You have successfully organized your small business records! Now you’ll feel more in control, be more functional in other spheres of your business and be able to dedicate your time to social media strategies and finding new clients.

However, to prevent disorganization from happening again, you should develop an upkeep plan just in case. For example, you can schedule paperwork catch-up sessions in your calendar and ensure you don’t miss them. This way, you’ll stay on top of your organizational game.


The need to learn how to organize your business records usually comes from a desperate situation where you can’t find what you need. So, rely on our steps for paperwork organization to reduce stress and improve your functionality.

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