One of the most important parts of being a small business owner is being organized. No matter what type of business you have, you are going to have records to maintain. Some small businesses require much more than others; it just depends on whether you also have to keep things on file such as client records. Regardless of what your small business is, you will have to keep records even if for just things like your income, expenses and other data for tax time. You also have to keep these organized in case you are ever audited.
If you are thinking about opening a small business, you are probably not even aware yet of how much paperwork goes into the behind the scenes part of the business. You have to keep your business license on file first and foremost. Take opening and managing a yoga studio, for instance. You will have papers for the copies of your yoga teachers’ certifications, the liability waivers of each and every student and receipts from all of your purchases that are related to the business as part of your expenses for tax time. This is just a fraction of the types of documents you will need to manage.
Don’t let the thought of all of this records keeping startle or scare you off. Just knowing this is the reality should simply prepare you to make sure you have a good organizational system in order from day one. This may seem obvious for businesses such as Certified Public Accountants or even doctors opening their own private practice office. The truth is all businesses have a better chance for success and survival by making sure to have a good record management system set up before the business even opens.
More than likely your record management system will consist of filing cabinets of some kind. The problem is the alphabetical filing system alone is just not efficient. For example, unless you are dealing with just sorting files by clients’ or patients’ last names, alphabetizing can actually make things more confusing. What you may label one document, someone else may not think to call it when trying to look it up. In fact, you could honestly forget what you called the file in the first place.
The best manner in which to organize your record management is using an indexing system like Paper Tiger Filing System Software for document management. You number your files, enter the data into the software relating to each document or set of documents such as the item name and additional keywords that you might relate back to the files, and never have problems retrieving your data again. By inputting multiple keywords into the software database for each document, you can also rest assured you or someone else will be able to find the file at a later date.
For example, you can enter key search terms such as “taxes,” “expenses,” receipts,” or “write offs” all entered for the same file. Later you can use any of these terms and the search engine will inform you of where the file is located. No more searching because you can’t remember if you filed it under ‘T’ for taxes or ‘E’ for Expenses or ‘R’ for receipts, etc. You owe it to yourself and the future success of your business to get and keep your record management system organized from the very first day.
Paper Tiger is an indexing system for your physical files that has an easy-to-use search engine built in so that lost information is virtually eliminated in your office. You would simply type in the information into the database relating to your files or other physical items to get organized so that you can find what you need when you need it, without time-wasting searches.
You would keep your paper in its original form (you do not have to scan it) and use the power of the computer to index the paper that you need to keep in hard copy format, and also index other physical items. Paper Tiger can index anything! Some things just can’t be scanned, i.e., passports, contracts, binders, books, CDs, DVDs, etc. That cannot be done with systems that require scanning into an electronic file.
For paper filing, you would first set up all hanging file folders in your file cabinets at one time using the numbered tabs that you print out from the software and they never change. You input information relating to each document in the database’s digital file location. You can give the document any name you want without any worry about finding it later. This is because the system will allow you to add as many keywords as you want that describe all documents that you put in your hanging file folders. For documents that you want to add to the same file, simply edit the Item and add additional keywords necessary for the new document(s).
Because the hanging file folders are already setup and waiting for your information, you eliminate the time-consuming hassle of having to find and create a file folder each time you want to file something.
When you’ve indexed your paper files to Paper Tiger, and you need to find a file, you simply conduct a Google-like search in the database to find where your file is located.
This solves problems with filing such as:
- You can’t decide what to name something;
- You don’t like making new folders when you need to file;
- You can’t remember where or what name you filed something under;
- Staff sharing files in the same filing cabinets, everyone thinks differently and anyone can search a keyword;
- Staff turnover or the one person in the office that knows where everything is gets sick or on vacation.
If you haven’t already, please view our videos on our Paper Tiger page, which may help you understand better. Please also see our Not Just For Filing Paper page for ideas to index other items in addition to paper files. You might also check out our article Customize Your Filing System with Paper Tiger’s Indexing Method for additional helpful tips in how to set up your filing system.
Some people are trying to set up their filing systems to a more paperless environment, and scanning incoming paper files that is not necessary to keep in hard copy format. In the case where you’re going to keep some hard copy files, but you also want to keep up and be able to find your digital files, we recommend Google Docs through a Google or Gmail account for your digital file storage. Google Docs is great for storing the digital files that are scanned and those files that you can upload from your computer.
With the addition of Digital Tiger function in Paper Tiger Online filing system software Basic and Pro plans, you can connect to Google Docs for a combined document management software solution. Digital Tiger, powered by Google Docs, is a free add-on with a paid Paper Tiger Online (Basic or Pro plan for now). You can still index your paper files that you need to keep in hard copy format and other physical items such as books and manuals into Paper Tiger Online, and use Google Docs for your digital file storage. Google Docs is the lowest cost digital file storage system available, and is more convenient than storing your digital files on your hard drive (or multiple computers) that would take up valuable memory, or keeping up with CDs or Flash Drives.
Combining Paper Tiger’s indexing method, there’s a way to organize and index all those items that simply cannot be scanned, i.e., passports, contracts, binders, books, CDs, DVDs, items in safe deposit box, etc. Then by using the Digital Tiger function in Paper Tiger Online, you will be able to search and find both your paper/physical items that you’ve indexed into Paper Tiger and your digital files that you’ve uploaded or created into Google Docs format relating to the same keyword search from one software system, Paper Tiger.
The bottom line is, when you get organized it makes it that much easier to stay organized. Start your business off the right way with Paper Tiger Filing System Software for document management to help keep your records management organized.