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We all know the importance of archiving your documents and the benefits of doing so, but are there some instances where archiving shouldn’t happen?

Every day, your business generates information and data. It can be anything from petrol receipts to the information you collect when customers buy online. You have legal responsibilities to keep some of this data. However, many companies hang on to information “just in case”, a state that could lead to document archiving costing you far more money than it needs to even if you have chosen to use an offsite cheap storage unit rather than expensive office space to store the documents. It is increasingly common for small companies to make use of self storage rather than waste valuable office space for storage. The costs are generally low, especially with all the good self storage deals around but it may still be money that your business doesn't have to spend if you are storing documents that you don't need.

Knowing the law

In many ways knowing what you should not or don’t need to keep is fairly straightforward – you just need to be aware of what the law says in relation to your business sector and industry.

As a general guide, you should always keep documents, data and information relating to:

  1. Business documents - in other words, anything that establishes you right to conduct your business. This could be anything from articles of incorporation to business permits, licences, certifications etc.
  2. Financial data – this is the one that people worry about most and in many ways, it pays to keep detailed as well as accurate financial data and information. Check how long you need to hold on to financial information as part of your archiving documents
  3. Business agreements – this may be the policies and procedures that tie your company into contracts with clients, suppliers and so on. It will also include staff agreements, such as contracts and health benefit packages etc.
  4. Executive decisions – you will also have company minutes, along with annual reports, health and safety documents that relate to how your business is run. Ensuring you hold on to these is important.
  5. Compliance – there may also be documentation that relates to your company complying with specific legislation, regulations etc.

What documents you don’t need?

However, in spite of having these five points relating to documents you must keep, many businesses still hang on to information that they really don’t need. On one hand, you may think that you may need the information or document but on the other, it makes archiving documents a cumbersome and heavy process.

To help you understand whether you need the documents or not, ask yourself these four questions;

  1. Are the transactions or decisions that rely on this information been concluded?
  2. Have you met all the regulatory and statutory requirements for keeping this information, e.g. have you kept the information for X number of years?
  3. Is there a statutory or regulatory reason why you should hold on to the information longer than required?
  4. Are there litigations proceedings that will affect holding on to certain records or information?

Telling a story

Your business records essentially tell the story of your business, charting its rise from humble beginnings to the thriving business that it is today. Keeping documents safe is important, and not just for the regulatory or legal reasons. Backing up data is important too but a separate activity to document archiving.

If you are unsure what to keep, for how long etc., a professional document archiving service can help.

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I've been running my own business for 8 years now and there hasn't been a single moment when I have regretted giving up the 9-5 corporate drudge. Even when I have been uplate and night or (more usually) up very early in the morning to fit it all in and still have time for a good family life. After all what is the point of working for yourself if you never get to see you family and give them the time and attention they deserve? I know not everyone thinks that way as there are plenty of parents who put their jobs first and I know, they won't admit it but you just have to look at the time they spend with their kids. I simply don't believe that quality time makes up for quantity time with them especially in the early years but also later on too.

So running my home based business has meant less sleep for me but hasn't compromised the very reasons I am doing this.

When I first started my business my home office was full of the products I was selling online, and the boxes in which to pack them for shipping. Eventually I outsourced the packing/shipping to a company who provided warehousing for the products but found there were simply too many products getting damaged or the wrong products being sent. I was then faced with the dilemma of where to find enough storage space to house my stock at a price I could afford and where to find reliable staff who could do a decent job packing and shipping my products – which were often large and fragile (what a combination!).

The answer was literally staring me in the face as I regularly passed a local self storage facility. What I hadn't thought of was that this was the perfect place for cheap storage because I had always associated self storage with moving house. How behind the times I was. It turns out their units were full of stuff for small online businesses and they even offered a packing service. It wasn't of course "too good to be true" and who would want that anyway as there is no such thing – because there is a cost to this service but it turned out to be cheaper than the company who were supposedly the experts at this and, more importantly for me and the reputation of my growing business, they were good, reliable packers who shipped the right thing at the right time and the damage rate was very low.

My business is now thriving and growing in a way I couldn't have imagined 8 years ago.

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home-office-couple

Make Money At Home

As the Holidays begin to peek around the corner people are beginning to search for ways to make money at home for the up-and-coming gift giving season.  Not only that, the recession has hit people hard and I honestly believe that home based businesses are going to explode in the coming years as more and more people look for ways to make money at home.

Whether you choose to offer a decorating service or a grocery shopping service, advise people on how to declutter a home or, indeed remove the clutter in your truck - the options are endless.

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Many extremely organised people cannot understand how disorganised people can actually manage to get any work done in a cluttered office. De-cluttering can increase productivity and efficiency as well as creating a calmer and more pleasant environment in your home office. When you clear the clutter and take control of your life you will be more productive - trust me.

 

blue sky thinking

Declutter Your Home Office and Become More Productive

When working from home, different people work in very different ways – some like to be extremely organised, with a filing place for everything and everything filed in its place. Others like to be surrounded by piles of work – maybe they think it makes them look busier when their partner arrives home from the daily commute. But more likely they work in a "mind-mapping" way with lots of connected pieces of information set out across their desk or even around the whole room.

The extremely organised types cannot understand how the seemingly disorganised types can actually manage to get anything done - and yet they do manage to, and often in a more creative way.

But if you are the "disorganised" type (or perhaps a better description is that you work in organised confusion) there will always be times when you lose that vital piece of paper: the important invoice, or contact details or just a scrap of paper where you noted down that brilliant new idea. That's the point when you might start to think there is some benefit to being more organised and consider decluttering your home office. Clearing space in your office can help create a less stressful environment that will lead to a more organised, clutter-free mind.

In order to embark on the arduous task of de-cluttering we need to feel motivated that a clutter-free office will be worth all the effort. If you cannot appreciate the advantages of de-cluttering then you will never do it. We also need to understand that de-cluttering is absolutely not about throwing away items that you actually need but it is about knowing the difference between the things you need and the clutter.

So avoid the excuses, aim for a less stressful working environment and just get started de-cluttering your home office – here are 7 top tips to help you:

  1. Categorise the paperwork and other items you need to store, for example: bank statements, invoices, receipts, insurance documents etc. Write all the categories down on a list – this will help you to get an overview of what you think you need and what you actually need. This list may not be complete at this stage but will give you a good starting point.
  2. Check the legal requirements for the retention of paperwork for tax or regulatory reasons. There is no point filing 10 years of bank statements and invoices if the Inland Revenue only require you to store information for the past 5 years. Add this information to your list of categories.
  3. Organise your filing cabinet(s) – if you have more than one filing cabinet then take one at a time and remove all the folders. Check their labels (if they have any) and match these labels to your list of categories. Make sure the title is exactly the same to avoid confusion and mis-filing later on.
  4. Organise your files – many people prefer to file their paperwork in ring-binder files that can be stored on a shelf and sub-divided more easily. Paperwork that is more frequently accessed is better stored this way. Make sure you have plenty of clear plastic pockets and dividers to organise the paperwork.
  5. Buy a stationery cupboard - so that all your office supplies such as printer paper, printer inks, envelopes, pens etc can be neatly stored in one place instead of on your desk. It will be much easier to find what you need and you will know when you are running out of something.
  6. Buy more storage - you can never have too much storage space so buy as many additional storage units, filing cabinets or shelves as you can reasonably fit in your home office. Having plenty of storage will make it easier to be organised.
  7. Consider renting a self-storage unit –  so rent cheap self storage unit to help you achieve this. It is simple to arrange and available in or near most major towns and is particularly useful for old documentation that you won't have to access frequently. A storage unit at a self storage facility will help keep your home office de-cluttered when there simply is not space to store everything at home.

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surprise

SURPRISE!  95% Failure Rate – Small Businesses

What shouldn’t be a surprise is that the number of small businesses are currently seeing hyper-growth!  There are millions of people out of work that are trying to figure out what their “plan B” is and that often means starting a small business.

Unfortunately, if 1,000,000 people start a business this year only 50,000 will come out victorious.  There are several factors for these numbers but I think the biggest is the lack of knowledge and training, and an awareness of the best ways of improving the profitability of your small business.