📬 Simple record-keeping for small business: easily find stuff every time
"I know this kettle can save my favourite temperature. But how, dammit?"
When the pandemic rolled around last year, I was thankful to have a kettle that could handle our brewing demands. But I'm not a person who reads a manual cover to cover, so I need to keep it handy for later.
BetterBuy customer support needs the warranty for that headset. Did I keep it? Did I chuck it with the box? Is it buried in a black hole of a filing system?
Whether a business is new or old, a common activity is finding a document or some piece of information related to a purchase.
Then, if a business doesn't yet have an organization system, the owners and employees are left scrambling for receipts, invoices, or whatever else may be required to resolve an issue.
One of the first things a small business needs is a simple way to keep, and find, records.
Identify the needs of now vs later
Some tools and techniques are necessary from day one. Others can wait until you have more information to make a better decision.
For example, getting an accounting tool is a common task that new businesses like to check off the list early. If you're already making lots of sales, yes, you do need a tool to generate those tedious invoices.
But if you're just looking for a place to stash your business purchases, choosing a specialized accounting tool may be a premature decision that limits your choices.
Here are two reasons why premature choices can be troublesome. In keeping with the example, these are about accounting tools, but we can generalize :-)
- It's difficult to identify an accounting tool with the right features, when a business is too new to understand its future needs well enough.
- The business may rely on outside help for taxes. You, as the owner, may decide that it's worth the expense to hand off business taxes to a professional. When you do that, you'll need to use their tools, which may not match the tool you've been pouring time into.
Early on, a business just needs a way to keep basic records organized.
First thing on the list: keeping simple records
Keeping simple, basic records doesn't require a business to see very far into the future.
Take business purchases as an example. At minimum, you'll need receipts or invoices for tax reasons. Many different of tools and techniques can solve that basic need. Specialized accounting tools are not necessary to keep receipts organized.
I use an inventory system to keep purchases and related documents organized. For example, I use the inventory to keep the receipt, warranty, and manual for my computer in one easy place.
I created my system from scratch. But you can get started faster using a template I've created.
Use this template to hit the ground running. It's a streamlined version of what I use, so that you're not overwhelmed, and there's plenty of room to make the template fit your needs.