What you have: Crumpled receipts found two months too late down the back of the radiator. A forest-worth of business paperwork in the basement. An over-burdened binder of miscellaneous business paperwork, too heavy to lift from the top shelf. Your in-tray full of buried mysteries.

What you need: That one piece of paper.

Why records matter

There were 5.7 million businesses in the UK in 2017. That’s a lot of paperwork. Keeping track of it can be the difference between a business surviving and, well, the other thing.

It’s imperative you keep accounts and other essential records, but to do so you need a good filing system. Don’t waste time looking for something vital. An additional tip is to keep a note of how long certain paperwork needs to be kept, which does occasionally change. For example, at the time of writing, financial records should be kept for seven years.

Here’s a handy checklist so you know what to keep a record of.

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Business plan

This one is for your own good. Keep a business plan that you regularly refer to and update. You define your goals and celebrate business successes. You react to failures by making strategic improvements. And – if you need investment for a project, you can be sure this is your most persuasive tool.

Legal documents

This one is a safety net. What documents you need depends on your business, however you might include:

  • Business insurance
  • Partnership agreements
  • Supplier contracts
  • Confidentiality agreements (NDA)
  • Proof of adherence to data protection requirements
  • Terms and conditions

(Also, talking of safety nets, things like keeping minutes for client meetings can help you avoid any ‘he said/she said’ scenarios.)

Policy handbook

This one keeps things clear. When in doubt: check the handbook. Your policy handbook should cover:

  • Health and safety
  • Medical leave/grievance
  • Environment
  • Non-discrimination
  • Time-off
  • Overtime
  • Company values and employee behaviour
  • Pay, benefits and promotions
  • Travel and expenses
  • Discipline
  • Security and confidentiality
  • Pensions

Employee documentation

This one keeps your employees happy. From the employment contract to records of pay and time-off, you want there to be no grey areas. Keep an account of PAYE and pension payments that you need to match. You should also have a clear record of holidays, grievance, parental or sick-leave, as well as overtime. As a manager, it is your responsibility to ensure you are paying your employees correctly.

What comes in

This one is to put a smile on your face (and is useful to tell the tax man). You need to keep a record backed by invoices of all sales and other income, including anything pending. And if you are VAT-registered, you must keep count of the VAT as well. There should be no business-equivalent of finding change in the couch cushions, as nice as that would be.

What goes out

This one is a necessary evil (and, again, the tax man will be interested). Whether it’s purchase orders or expenses, make sure to note what you spend, and what you think you will spend. Once money has left the business, keep your receipts. Some of your purchases may be services or subscriptions, so it’s a good idea to differentiate between capital and operational expenditure. It all adds up.

What you should keep a record of is one thing, finding things when you need them is another. That’s why we suggest sticking to a process. Luckily, we can help with that, too.

Turbine is a simple way to log and record time-off, purchase orders and expenses. You can even integrate an employee handbook, as well as lots of other useful features.

Get your free trial today.

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