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The Science Behind Record Keeping

Posted on by Beth Wallace

Science can be defined as a systematically organized body of knowledge on a subject.  What does a definition of science have to do with record keeping for a business?

Well if you are like me, you tend to keep records but miserably fail at the ability to retrieve them without great angst, especially in my personal life.  Over the years of assisting business owners, I would say most have a similar issue, especially if you are a small “shop” with one or two owners and few employees.
Bottom line, being organized is the key in solving the dilemma of good record keeping.  Just think of all the countless nonproductive hours spent trying to find your records.

Here are my simple Top 5 tips to keeping yourself organized:

  • Centralize and dedicate a space for your office, have a working printer/scanner, and put all your hard copy mail in the same place and use folders in your email inbox.  Throw away (actually recycle the junk) or delete unnecessary emails.  AND, dedicate your time to get your inbox empty before the end of day.
  • Develop a system that works for you and set lots of reminders.
  • Declutter paper files by scanning and keeping electronic files and know which files you have easy access to online such as bank statements and investments.  Be sure to back-up the electronic files.
    Use a software tool like QuickBooks to manage your business financial activity.
  • Know what files are important and not important
    • Tax returns and associated files (keep at least 7 years)
    • Bank statements, but, at the end of the year print a summary and only keep the summary (keep for 7 years)
    • Investments and stock purchases
    • Loan documents and the name of the loan officer handling your loan
    • Receipts and warrant documents for major purchases
    • Keep track of business expenses
    • Invoices and Accounts Receivable
    • Business filing and registration documentation
      • Know the agencies you have a registration or license
      • Keep receipts or confirmation documents and any letters from the agency
      • Create a secured document with your online user names and passwords
      • Be sure to set reminders for annual reporting requirements and renewal periods for your licenses.  It is your responsibility to know this information.

Its amazing what writing a blog about organizing files can do for ones’ drive to organize.  If you are still lacking the motivation to organize, hire an expert or ask a highly organized friend to help.  Good luck.  I’m determined to keep my sanity and organize my files for good record keeping.