Index of Record Keeping Systems Chats
How To Organize Small Business Bookkeeping Files


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by L. Kenway BComm CPB Retired

I have a confession to make that may shock you ... I hate filing! Yes, I do. I really do. So I developed a "lazy man's" record keeping system to organize my own business receipts. You too can develop a system that works for YOU.

You have options. Look through them and pick the one that best matches your organizational style. I've got to say that a shoebox filing system is not a style … it's just plain lazy! But hey that's okay because I've got a filing system for lazy filers like me too!

Three Points To Keep In Mind

File organization doesn't have to be difficult or complex to work. I attended Document Snap's Paperless Action Class early in 2012. In lesson two, Brooks Duncan started the lesson with three great points that you should keep in mind as you start to organize your files:

  1. Take a step back and relax.
  2. Remember that there is not one “right” way to do things.
  3. Focus on what will work best for you.

An excellent article by Sherrill St. Germain on reverse budgeting (how to put your budgeting on autopilot with no detail tracking) talks about four elements to examine when organizing anything ... including your recordkeeping system (i.e. business finances):

  1. Your style - detail or big picture oriented
  2. Your money (or filing) personality - saver or spender (keep every receipt or lose every receipt)
  3. Your goals - file your taxes or know if you are making money
  4. Your time constraints - not enough hours in a day or make time for administrative details of running your business

YOU HAVE OPTIONS ... you really do!

Blueprint for Success

"... [Learning] a proven system for tackling your return and sorting tax documents - you'll better meet compliance obligations with the CRA by filing an audit-proof return. Consider it a blueprint for success in making the tax preparation process work in your favor, both at tax time, and all year long, rather than against you."

-- Evelyn Jacks, author Master Your Taxes --

IMAGE INDEX For Easy Office Filing Systems Series

The Bookkeeper's Tea Break

Enjoy a teabreak

Be Present to the Moment

Before we start. Bring your mind here to this page. Let every other thought go … just for now. Take a deep breath and let it out slooooowly …. if the felt good, do it one more time. Okay here we go.

We've been chatting about record keeping systems today. The question will arise ... Should you be using computer software ... the second item in my list of good bookkeeping practices categories?

I suggest you consider (or re-consider) one of the cloud solutions such as QuickBooks Online. Why?

  • Your business lives or dies by cash flow.
  • Cloud solutions with automated bank feeds and app integrations like LedgerDocs reduce data entry errors giving you confidence in the accuracy of your information ... though you may initially need help mapping where the data goes.
  • All your devices are synced automatically with QBO throughout the day.
  • Attach your receipt to an entry so you don't lose it ... and no more hunting for it when you try to lay your hands on it.
  • Your time is valuable. QBO learns and auto populates many of your figures allowing you to allocate your valuable time to another area of your business. 
  • The mobile app gives you real-time access to help you make business decisions and allows you to access and manage your books from anywhere. 
  • Company snapshots lets you quickly check if you are on target for the month.
  • QBO lets you send invoices, manage and pay bills, scan receipts, track your sales tax, pay your employees and work with your bookkeeper or accountant.

Executive Summaries

Simple Suggestions to Get Organized

Small Business Record Keeping Systems
Simple Suggestions to Get Organized

Are you looking for a filing system for your business receipts? Small business accounting organization doesn't have to be complex to work.

You may just need simple suggestions to get your small business accounting organized in your office ... to eliminate stress and panic. Your accounting system won't work effectively without a good recordkeeping system.

What is the best filing system to get and stay organized so you can get rid of those drawers of stashed receipts? In this article I share my favorite filing system for keeping my business receipts organized.

If the only reason you keep bookkeeping records is for tax purposes (as opposed to helping you run your business), I suggest you look at this simple filing method. It has the added bonus of audit proofing your tax return. It will provide you with the small business accounting records you are required by law to keep.

Filing Forum

Filing Forum 
This Forum is Closed But Posts Are Still Available to Read 

A certified professional bookkeeper answers self-employed business owners'  questions about how to organize and track all their paperwork. 

Learn how a professional bookkeeper files receipts and more.

Organize Your Documents
Organize Your Documents-Security
Organize Your Documents-ScanSnap

Paperless Technology - Organize Your Documents

Part 1 - The Paperless Organization Guide
Part 2 - Getting Organized Using Office Document Imaging
Part 3 - Going Paperless and Sending Financial Documents
Part 4 - Should I Shred My Scanned Receipts?
Part 5 - How Do You Protect Your Scanned Documents?

Attention: These publications are no longer available for sale. I am in the process of looking for another source.

Paperless technology lets you organize your documents like never before ... and it's affordable.

DocumentSnap's "Paperless Document Organization Guide" leads you easily and systematically through the process. One product, three service level choices!

In addition to information on how to purchase this extremely useful guide, you will find a link to a free eCourse on going paperless.

Worried about losing your scanned documents ... learn how to backup up documents onsite and off-line ... keep them safe.

Once you've moved towards a paperless system ... can you ever be totally paperless? ... how you send private information to your customers / clients becomes a bit of a dilemma. "Mr. Paperless" explains the best practices in sending sensitive information online. It really isn't a good idea to send it by unencrypted email!

A word of caution for Canadian businesses - Scanning documents does NOT meet federal (Canadian General Standards) imaging requirements. If you scan documents, you must still retain the original source document for the CRA auditor to review. Why? Because scanned documents can be altered ... therefore they are not submissible in a court of law as evidence.

Source: CRA IC-05-1R1 Electronic Record Keeping - paragraphs 24 & 26

A Portable Document Filing System

Small Business File Organization
A Portable Document Filing System

This is a no-tech solution.

If you operate a part of your business from your vehicle, file organization is key. This portable document filing system is perfect for you to organize your bookkeeping records!

Incorporate this filing system into your home office organization and small business accounting system to manage your business receipts efficiently. It will complement your record keeping system.

Books and Record Retention

Books and Record Retention

Record retention requirements are determined by government for tax purposes. Get up to speed with these small business accounting requirements so you can be compliant.

This article explains what a source document (or supporting document) is. It will also discuss:

  • Who must keep records
  • What records must be kept
  • How you must keep the records
  • How long you must keep the records
  • How to destroy records early

Bookkeeping With a File Box

Bookkeeping With A File Box

Learn the benefits to organizing your bookkeeping documents using a simple banker's file box.

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Your Tutor

Record Keeping and Filing Systems

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