06 Oct 3 Steps to create a basic filing system
Have you got a filing system in place to help you preserve your sanity?
I hope so… and if not, please read on, because.. you need a filing system.
When you run a business you tend to focus on and prioritize your clients’ work, filing sometimes becomes something you do every now and then, when you have time.
The fact is that all the tasks you need to perform for your clients, in addition to the tasks essential to your own business, can easily become overwhelming and sometimes get out of control . You are primarily a business owner, don’t forget about the needs of your business.
Have you got systems in place to make your life easier? You should. I came to a point when I felt overwhelmed and realized I was wasting so much time… if only I had systems in place from the very beginning, things might be much better.
While searching for ways to streamline my processes, I’ve come up with 3 steps to apply in my daily routine.
They are very useful for creating a basic filing system; you might find them helpful too.
1 – SUPPLIERS
Yes, we not only have clients, but also have suppliers. They send us invoices that will have to be forwarded to your accountant or CPA. I recommend printing or saving (depending on your needs) the invoices as soon as you see them, storing them in their relevant places. If you don’t do it immediately and your inbox receives dozens of emails on a daily basis… well you run the risk of losing sight of them…
A simple tool to help you keep track of all your deductible invoices, especially the ones for which you have set recurring payments, is a simple spreadsheet with the following columns: NAME – PRICE – PAYMENT – RENEWAL DATE. See an example here below:
Most of my payments to suppliers are through PayPal, therefore I’ve created a rule in my Outlook: all payment confirmation emails coming from PayPal are automatically moved from my main Inbox to one specific folder: PayPal payments. When it’s “accountancy time”, I just open my suppliers’ spreadsheet as well as my PayPal folder and double check that I have the invoices for every single payment. This helps me keep track of my purchases and ensures I send all deductible costs documentation to my accountant.
2 – CLIENTS
For each of my clients, I have two main folders. One is shared with the client (through Google Drive or Dropbox). It contains our work (articles, drafts, images, quotes, etc..) and the other one is just mine. It contains all admin related stuff: proposals, signed agreements, copy of business policies, confidentiality agreements… and so on. Of course, these folders include subfolders, you should create your own based on your business needs.
I also suggest creating a checklist for the intake of the client, and check items as they are done or sent out.
In my case the checklist looks like this:
• Discovery call
• Business policy
• Payment request
• Initial questionnaire
• First steps
• and so on.
3 – MY BUSINESS
This big folder has subfolders:
Website (content, hosting, domains, etc..)
Blog (old articles, drafts, blogging editorial calendar)
Newsletters (used content, new one)
Social Media (content to share, quotes, promotions, social media editorial calendar)
Packages and Special Offers
Bank and Insurance
These are just some examples to show you how to set up a filing system that will allow you to find what you’re looking for, when you need it 😉 You’ll have your own filing system, something where you can easily search according to your requirements.
Creating the folders is easy. The hardest part is being consistent in saving all the documents in their appropriate files AS SOON AS you create them. Don’t wait. You will soon find yourself overwhelmed with documents everywhere… and please remember to keep your PC desktop tidy. I know, the desktop is a very tempting location to save a file you’ve just created. My suggestion to you is: don’t do it. Spend five more seconds but save them into their relevant folders. This will help you prevent big headaches later.
When it comes to your filing system, have you got any other useful tips to share? Please let me know, leave a comment here below.
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