Keeping good records for your business

In order to comply with the gazillion laws out there that regulate small business you need to keep good records. The best way to keep good records is to establish a system that allows you to efficiently and easily retrieve them.

You may want to consider categorizing your records in the manner prescribed below. You can combine one or tow of these categories or break them down into further categories depending on your business and your preferences.

Accounting and bookkeeping records

Sales and expense information, inventory, ledgers, income statements, balance sheets, cash flow statements and other financial statements.

Bank records

Bank statements, cancelled checks, bank reconciliations, notices from and to your bank, deposit slips and any other bank related documents.

Contracts

All contracts that you have entered into, including real estate, lease, equipment lease, purchase agreements, sales agreements, and any other contracts.

Corporate records

If your business is a corporation this would include your articles of incorporation, bylaws, shareholder minutes and consents, board minutes and state filings.

Correspondence

Letters sent by mail, faxes, e-mails and any important correspondences that you would want to keep in hard copy.

Employee records

Any records related to your business’s employees, including completed employment applications, actual employment offer letters, employee handbooks and policies.

Business forms

Standard forms that you use in your business. Purchase orders, sales agreements, offer letters and employment applications.

Intellectual property records

Any trademark applications, copyright filings, patent filings and patents or licenses.

Marketing and advertising records

Marketing brochures, print ads, web banners, radio and text and other marketing materials.

Permits and licenses

Permits, licenses or registration forms that you need to operate the business, whether required under federal, state or local law.

Tax records

Quarterly and annual federal and state income tax filings. W-9 filings for independent contractors, records supporting tax filings, withholding tax records and other tax related matters.[1]


[1] Richard D. Harroch, Small Business Kit for Dummies, (Wiley 2nd Edition)(2004).