Death and taxes may be a certainty, but in business, paperwork is a close third. A bank statement here, a receipt there. Soon enough your stack of papers rivals The Leaning Tower Of Pisa. But there is hope! As a small business owner, you wear many hats – from sales to accounting – but no matter your role, there are benefits to getting your paperwork in order. You’ll save time, money, and whoever you’ve chosen to sift through your receipts will thank you for it. And it’s easier than you might think!
1. Work =/= Life
Finding the perfect work/life balance is a constant struggle, more so if you’re a small business owner who can’t leave the office behind. When your home is your office, there’s no escaping it. Or so you might think. Implementing a distinct separation between your spaces is the first step in ensuring a more balanced life. Not only will this save you time, but it’ll boost your productivity too.
The key here? Keep your work and everyday accounts, finances and receipts separate. Mixing them will only lead to confusion, and waste time when it comes to calculating expenses or sending receipts to your accountant. Don’t cross the financial paperwork streams!
2. A Place For Everything
When finding a place for your paperwork, investing in filing cabinets and folders is a logical starting point. From here? It’s down to your organisational skills. Creating categories for different documents with a smart naming scheme is a great start, but don’t be too specific with your names. Overly-specific categories will create problems all of their own!
Colour-coding these categories will also make them easier to identify, as will creating a dedicated space for new documents. This works best if you put a daily or weekly schedule in place to sort through this pile, as well as dispose of old documents you no longer need. Contrary to popular belief, not all documents need to be kept indefinitely!
Hands off the Print key! Instead, grab a calculator and work through how much you’ve spent on printing supplies over the last year. You’ll be surprised at how many 0’s are on the end of that number! The trick here is a change of mindset: not everything needs to be printed. In fact, embracing the all-digital revolution is a perfect way to free your business from paperwork pandemonium. Speaking of which, you should probably…
4. Go Digital
Vive la digital revolution! Managing your business – and its paperwork – digitally isn’t just for digital businesses! Not only can it save you time and mess, but money too. The idea here is to find the right mix of software, services and apps that compliment your business. Looking for ideas? These might help.
Notes To Notepad
Editing or sharing documents? Google’s suite of apps is easy to use, and free!
Working with a team? Need something better than Post-It notes to track meetings or appointments? Services like Asana work perfectly for this.
A notorious note-take? I’m guilty as charged! Thankfully, services like Evernote let you keep notes wherever you go, with an app for almost every device and browser. And it’ll save some forests in the process too!
Accounts & Accounting
Looking to manage your expenses and invoices? This is where your smartphone comes in handy. Apps like Expensify take a picture of your receipts and turn them into an easy-to-read report, while Invoice2Go lets you create, edit, view and send invoices on the go.
For your accounting? There’s a range of always-online software available, letting you manage your finances worldwide, from Auckland to Amsterdam. Wave, Quickbooks and Xero provide options to suit all budgets, and many allow you to set up guest accounts for your accountant too.
Paperwork & PDFs
Unsure what to do with your existing paperwork? You don’t need to scan them individually. Services like FileCenter and PaperTiger let you easily convert them into digital files. The upside? Your files are now easier to search, manage and store. How convenient!
Have any paperwork management tips, go-to apps or ideas? We’d love to hear about them in the comments!
Jamie Dalzell is an experienced freelance writer with a background in web and print media covering all aspects of the videogame industry. His interests also extend beyond the screen, and he enjoy bringing unique, informative content to sites on a variety of subjects.