One of my favorite authors on financial education is David Bach. I have read all his books and I am a faithful follower of his blog. Several years ago, after reading one of his books, Smart Women Finish Rich, I took a close look at my financial goals and struggles. One of the main suggestions of David Bach is a file system for your financial life. I created this system not only for my personal finance, but also implemented the key elements for my business filing system.
As a Headshot Photographer, I work a lot with small business owners and freelancers, sharing my experience and knowledge with them. Today, I am inviting all Smart Business Women / Business Men to a filing system that I am using to keep my business documents tidy.
I keep two filing systems: Paper and Paperless. In this article, I am concentrating on the Paper filing system. It’s always a good idea to have all your printed documents handy to work with should your power source, Wi-Fi, or mobile data fail. I use the Paperless filing system daily. My paperless filing system runs on my computer’s hard drive and I have an extra copy in cloud storage. This allows me to access my documents and business information anytime and anywhere. Also, it is an extra protection in case if my physical folders are lost or damaged in a disaster.
1. File Name: BUSINESS PLAN
2. File Name: GET LEGAL
- Business Documents - This folder contains all state and federal documents related to my business: DBA, EIN, EFTPS, State Board of Equalization, Tax Collector and other documents, as well as all licenses related to the registration of my business. Make sure you are running business or freelance practice following all federal and state law. Decide what identity works best for you: Sole Proprietorship, LLC or Corporation. Take care of all licenses that is required by law for your business. Also, in this folder, I keep a list of all important dates for license renewal, since many are required to be renewed annually.
- Intellectual Property - Documents related to trademark, copyright or patent registrations.
3. File Name: TAXES
Business taxes are much different than your personal taxes. For example, your folders will be filled with the payroll tax, sales tax, and income tax.
- 2016 - label each tax return subfolder by year. The law requires to keep your tax documents for the last 3 years, though I usually extend that back to 7 years.
4. File Name: BANKS
This folder should contain all your bank documents, contracts, checks, and statements. You will want to create separate subfolders for documents of each financial institution your business is connected to: business checking account, saving account, credit cards, loans, credit card processing companies, etc.
- SBB - Small Business Bank checking account.
- Chase Ink - Business Credit Card that I use exclusively for all expenses. It easier this way to keep up with bookkeeping. My credit card expenses are even synced to Quickbooks (bookkeeping online service) which automatically divides my expenses by category.
- EMS+ - My studio accepts credit cards, so I needed a card reader. I am naturally drawn to beautiful details and Square credit card processing device’s design is very sophisticated, but when it comes to saving money on transaction fee, EMS+ won my attention. The Square swipe rate is 2.75% and EMS+ only 2.25%. I made a quick decision to choose EMS+ low swipe rates over Square’s reader luxurious design.
5. File Name: INSURANCE
When you run a business, it is necessary to protect your business and family from the unexpected. This folder contains your business insurance certificates. As a headshot photographer, I have two. However, depending on what industry you are in, your business may require more or less.
- Gear Insurance - In this folder I also keep a list of all my photography gear. The list includes picture of all equipment, name, date purchased and value.
6. File Name: CONTRACTS
I cancel a photoshoot reservation if my clients don’t sign a Headshot Session Agreement before booking. All businesses should operate on providing clear policies to customers. To make this process simple and organized, all my contracts between customers, companies or contractors are signed digitally using SignNow.com and kept in this folder. I also keep printed copies of my all contract templates. Contact a lawyer who specializes in business policies to create a bundle of contracts for your business needs. Protect your business and yourself.
7. File Name: RENT
In this folder keep copies of rent agreements related to your business. Include statements of the payments and receipts.
8. File Name: VENDORS
Create Subfolders for each vendor or contractor you have business with. Keep all agreements, checks, and documents in this folder.
9. File Name: EMPLOYEE
- Employee Information will include resumes, personal details, tax/pension forms etc.
- Payroll will contain the management reports for salary of your employees.
10. File Name: MEMBERSHIPS
Stay organized and finish rich! Share your business filing system and leave comments below.