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Blog: Minimizing Financial Clutter
52 WEEKS TO FINANCIAL ORGANIZATION - #36: Business Filing 101

I know, I know. Most of you small business owners would rather be out there working in your business (and making money) than creating and maintaining paperwork and electronic filing systems for your business.  Go ahead and groan, but please keep reading. 
Business filing does not have to be complicated.  If you own a franchise business or are an independent consultant for a company, your parent company may have already given you a ready-made, tried-and-true structure for maintaining paper and electronic documents.  You paid for it, so use it!  If you're in business for yourself with no corporate support, however, I'm going to give you a very simple structure to follow to organize your business documents.
Start by dividing your documents into five basic categories:
1.       Customers (documents related to money coming in and the people from whom it comes)
2.       Vendors (documents related to your business expenses)
3.       Employees (documents related to the people who work for you, including yourself and any contract or temporary laborers)
4.       Administration (documents related to the ongoing operation of your business)
5.       Reference (information you may need to retrieve in the course of doing business)
Assign one or more file drawers, cabinets, or file boxes to hold the paperwork for each category.  I like to use a different color of file folders for each of the 5 categories.  For example, all of my customer file folders are red.  It makes it easier to put files away when I'm finished using them.
Treat electronic files the same way you treat paper files.  Create the same five basic categories for e-mails and for electronic documents.
Over the next 5 weeks, I'll give you some strategies for fine-tuning your 5 paper and electronic filing categories.  For now, if you have no working filing system for your business, start out by doing this week's homework listed below: 
Your Homework for This Week:
         If your business paperwork is literally piled all around your office, I suggest that you get 5 large boxes and label them with those categories.  Pick up one paper or folder at a time and simply put it in the appropriate box until the piles are gone.
         The same goes for e-mails:  If every e-mail you have ever received is still in your Inbox, create electronic folders with the names of the five categories.  Using your mouse, drag all e-mails on which you do not need to take further action into the appropriate category.
         And the same goes for electronic documents:  If all of your documents are in your "My Documents" folder, create electronic sub-folders with the names of the five categories.  Using your mouse, drag each document into the appropriate sub-folder.
If this process makes you nervous, please don't worry.  We aren't going to leave things this way!  You are simply pre-sorting your documents this week.  Be sure to visit the blog again next week to learn how to fine-tune your Customer files.

posted on: 10/18/2009 11:30:00 AM by Katherine Trezise
category: Finances

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Discuss This Post

by Polprav on 10/22/2009 7:01:37 PM:

Hello from Russia! Can I quote a post in your blog with the link to you?

by Vicki on 6/24/2011 11:13:19 AM:

Kewl you should come up with that. Exclelent!

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Minimizing Financial Clutter

by Katherine Trezise

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About Katherine:

Katherine Trezise is president of Absolutely Organized, based in Baltimore, MD. She is president-elect of the National Study Group on Chronic Disorganization. Katherine holds a masters degree in business administration, is a Certified Professional Organizer® and a Certified Professional Organizer in Chronic Disorganization®. Absolutely Organized specializes in helping people organize their homes, paperwork and financial records to make room in their lives for the things, people and activities that are most important to them.

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