Getting your business in order and making it easier to accomplish key tasks can seem like a big undertaking. By focusing on just a few core areas of your business, you'll be able to make significant progress, get more done throughout the year and ensure you're not losing critical information. Here are five steps that can help you get organized:
1. Organize Your Basic Business Documents
Every business owner needs to keep track of essential business-related information. Some essentials to think about include:
- Your business registration documents
- IRS documents, such as your Employer Identification Number (EIN)
- Copies of business licenses from federal, state, local or industry authorities
- Any documents related to incorporation, like LLC operating agreements or corporate bylaws
- Most recent tax returns and contact information for accountants and lawyers
- Insurance policy coverage and contact details
Consider keeping these documents in a safe or lockbox to ensure that they're easy to locate (and take with you) in case of an emergency.
2. Streamline Employee Information
Business owners have a lot of data that they must track for employees. Take time this year to create a filing system — or update an employee management software program — with information such as:
- A basic employee information sheet with contact numbers, home address and any other vital details
- An emergency contact with current information
- Updated tax information, such as a W-4 with the latest employee information needed
- An I-9 verifying an employee's ability to work in the U.S. and a copy of the identification used to verify
- Copies of any certifications or licensing requirements you need on file
3. Track Customer Information
How organized is your customer information? Consider investing in some form of customer relationship management (CRM) software. Not only will you be able to keep the information updated and centralized, but any member of your company can also see details of the latest interactions and personalize the service accordingly. CRM systems help you track contact information as well as details about your customer point of contact, their buying behaviors, specific preferences and more.
4. Systematize Your Receipts and Financial Documents
A little organizing can help make tax time — and other financial times of the year — less stressful. Create a system that lets you track all of your receipts and business expenses. Depending on your preference, options range from finance apps to physical folders. Determine the best way you can reliably file and label expenses so they can be sorted and handed off to your accountant or bookkeeper with ease.
5. Put Together a Quick Business Continuity Resource
Disasters happen, from a weather-driven shutdown of your physical business location to a technology hack that puts your digital operations into slow motion. In one study from Zetta, 84 percent of business owners noted that IT downtime could cause moderate to catastrophic losses to their business. If you want to get organized, you should put together a business continuity plan. In your plan, outline the most likely sources of an issue with your business. For example, if you're based in an area that experiences hurricanes or snowstorms, it's important to have a plan in place. This can be your best year yet, and it all starts with a plan to get organized. When your essential business info, customer data, employee information, financial details and emergency plan are easily accessible, you and your employees will be ready for any challenge (or opportunity) that is thrown your way.