Loose papers, receipts, notes, credit card bills, financial statements, tax returns – these are the byproducts of owning a business. They take up space on your desk and in your mind and every time you look at the litter you feel disorganized.
Before I created a system to organize my business paperwork in the manner I’ll soon explain, I felt disjointed, out of whack, and like I never got anything done. I’d walk into my office and want to turn right around and walk out.
Is there a better way to organize your business finances? You bet. Follow the steps below to create a simple, yet functional way to organize your business and live a more carefree life.
Step 1 – Get a Binder
Purchase a three-ring binder based on the volume of paperwork you produce annually. A 1.5″ or 2″ binder would be adequate for most businesses. You will use one binder for each year you are in business, so that every detail pertaining to your business that year is in one place for easy retrieval. In the viewing window type a cover that shows the name of your business and the year.
Step 2 – Get a Three Hole Punch
Purchase a three-hole punch. This is to hole punch all larger receipts, documents and financial statements and have them fit neatly into your binder.
Step 3 – Get a Zipper Compartment
Purchase a plastic zipper compartment from an office supply store to hold small receipts.
Step 4 – Purchase Accounting Software
Get yourself accounting software so that you can track your finances. Professional business owners track their profits and losses using the right tools and analyze their financials regularly. I recommend QuickBooks, but there are others such as Peachtree, Microsoft Office Small Business, and Simply Accounting. Try to begin tracking sales and expenses from the beginning of your business or the beginning of the year.
Step 5 – THE SYSTEM:
Arrange paperwork in your binder according to month. Keep all receipts, credit card statements and bank statements (make sure to reconcile these monthly), and sales tax reports (if you sell products). At the end of each month, run a Profit and Loss Statement and a Balance Sheet (collectively known as Financial Statements). The Financial Statements become the separator for each month. File small receipts that can’t be hole-punched in the zipper compartment at the back of your binder.
Step 6 – CLOSE IT OUT
At the end of each year, reconcile your accounts, print your annual Financial Statements, and close out your year. Put the binder away and start a new one for the New Year. Give your accountant or CPA a copy of your QuickBooks file to prepare your income tax return.
o Only handle receipts one time. Review them. Record them in your software program. File them in your binder.
o Use one credit card for business and one for personal expenses. This way you can maintain separate business and personal expenses. If you ever need to carry a balance, you can easily determine the tax-deductible interest.
o Consult with your accountant or CPA regarding what is and is not tax deductible.
o Make an appointment with yourself one to two hours a week to do your business finance organization. When you have room in your budget, hire someone to come in and do it for you.
The system above is one way to organize your business finances. If you would like to go beyond this system and organize your business for financial success, you may want to consider writing a Business Plan.