Filing Systems for Small Business Owners

by Norma Rist on August 24, 2010

To Start Filing


Filing systems for a new business can be confusing.  First you seem to have a mishmosh of files, all in a different order every day.

Later they get bigger than the plastic cube, where they had a nice home for awhile, and you don’t know what to do next.
In the cube, if you look at the types of files, you will find that they have names that can be sorted functionally – finance, legal, marketing, operations, prospects and customers.  So as soon as you locate a filing cabinet you can sort the files by the functional areas.  Post names on the drawers.

More Drawers

Finance and legal might go in the first drawer.  Label it.  And inside keep the finance separate, to include bills-to-pay, paid invoices, financial reports, Q instructions, CPA info.  And in the same drawer keep as a group the files from legal, to include copies from NoloPress where you were studying about contracts in preparation to see your attorney, and incorporation papers, or other legal information valuable to you about your business. 
Then go to the next drawer and put your files on marketing.  This will be a big file.  You need lots of marketing in the beginning – to get your name out there and lots of people planning to use your service as soon as they need you.  If you have sales agreements, or other sales presentations, they can reside here too.
In the other drawer you can put files for the prospects.  Each name has a cozy home in a file folder.  I like to use two variations of one color for these two groups.  For example, perhaps you use light blue for prospects, but dark blue for clients.  Then you know one from the other.  You can enjoy watching the dark blue file folders grow.  And if you do not have enough light blue file folders – aha – you might not be doing enough marketing.  Need more light blue files to turn into clients.
Operations is the other section.  All of the things that you have to do to deliver a product or a service to your client.  What is the system you use.  What forms are used.  All of them go into this drawer.
This system will work for quite some time.  Some of you are asking “what comes next?”  Next would be four or five filing cabinets, one for each functional area.  Picture you walk into an office, say the insurance office, and you see lots of filing cabinets.  One entire cabinet is for clients, one is for the accountant to handle the payable, receivables, payroll etc.; you get the picture. 
 Hope this helps.  Remember that colors are good, and pendaflex files help keep everything neat.  Nothing worse than being late for an appointment with a prospect because you could not find a file folder.  Give them all a home – and arrive on time ready to close a new sale.
Flickr photo via creative commons:bowbrick,reedinglessons

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