Apart from the daily operations of a business, small business owners must also contend with keeping important documents accessible at a moment’s notice. From taxes to financials and critical customer information, these documents must be easily pulled for reference.
Although using a cloud storage system may be all your business needs for easy access, having hard copies are sometimes necessary.
In most states, for example, it’s a legal requirement for a limited liability company (LLC) to have a copy of its operating agreement in its “primary place of business”. Business licenses and permits should also be available in hard copy form mainly because regulations demand it.
The best way to secure all hard copies of these critical documents is to store them in a fire-resistant filing cabinet. If space at your office is at a premium, then consider an off-site storage solution. Choose a storage facility that is equipped with a sophisticated security system and a temperature-controlled unit to avoid potential heat damage.
Now that we have covered the reasons and ways to store hard copies of important documents, let’s look at the types of documents you must keep a hard copy of.
- Business License – It is best to keep a business license on display as a visual reference for both customers and employees.
- Tax and Financial Records – Having hard copies of “difficult-to-replace” records such as original contracts, insurance documents, employer identification numbers, promissory notes, capital contributions, as well as IRS documents are necessary.
- Legal Documents – There are some industry regulations that dictate what specific documents require hard copies. Consult with an attorney who specializes in this industry to determine that.
- Your Business Model or Plan – If you find yourself struggling with carrying out your plan, your hard copy will enable you to make any changes.
- Company Rules – Office rules placed on display in the office serves as a constant visual reminder to employees, making it easier to reinforce rules.
- Accounting Documents – These systems have not conformed to the digital age and therefore, it is best to keep hard copy versions of these documents.
- Employee Contracts – This is important, not only for tax purposes, but in the event you need to revise or review the contract.
- Client Contracts – If the computer system crashes, or if a client suggests that their work is different from the contract, a hard copy will come in handy.
- Articles of Incorporation – In the event you need to sell, shut down, move, or prove ownership of the company, these documents will be needed.
- Mission Statement – A mission statement should always be visible to the leader of the business so that all decisions are vetted against the overall goal and mission of the company.
- Proprietary Information Agreement – This agreement states that all intellectual property that an employee works on for the company belongs to the company. The agreement helps avoid litigation.
- Leasing Agreements – To avoid any disputes that could come up, especially during a sudden office move, keep hard copies of your rental lease agreement.
- Your Goals – It’s best to have them prominently displayed on the wall to ensure you can check yourself daily.
Keeping track of your small business documents can be headache-inducing. The key is to determine the most critical documents and create hard copies. Create systems that enable you to seamlessly access them for your everyday business needs. That way, you are not caught off guard, wasting your valuable time and energy locating them.