How to Set Up a Simple Filing File System

Streamline your business with a good filing system.
Streamline your business with a good filing system. (Image: Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images)

Small businesses and home business owners may need a simple filing system rather than a complex one. A system customized to the needs of your business will help keep you organized and productive. A good filing system does more than allow for quick retrieval of paperwork, it also helps you to meet production deadlines, pay your bills on time, research queries and provide good customer service. This simple file system is easy to set up and maintain.

Things You'll Need

  • Hanging file folders
  • File cabinet
  • Manila folders
  • Colored stickers

Label hanging file folders in your file cabinet with categories that pertain to your business. Some of these categories might include taxes, payroll, rent, utilities, insurance, office equipment, clients, vendors, monthly reports and completed orders. Look through your paperwork or monthly reports to decide which categories you need.

Create manila folders for individual clients, providers or contracts within each category. For example, the office equipment category could have a folder for each type of equipment, such as computers, copiers, postage machine, fax machines and printers. These folders would contain the equipment lease or purchase receipt, warranty and maintenance records. File alphabetically within each category for quick retrieval.

Use colored stickers to label special folders. For example, you may want to place green dots on folders with tax-deductible receipts and orange dots on vendor folders. This way, if you accidentally file a vendor folder with the customer files, you only have to scan for orange dots as you look through the drawer.

Label a hanging file folder as “Date Due” and then make manila folders with the numbers one through 31. As you receive invoices or accept customer orders, file them according to the day of the month they are due. This will help you meet production deadlines and pay your vendors on time.

Create manila folders for the months of the year if you work with long-range projects, such as accepting a project in January for April delivery. File these folders within the “Date Due” hanging folder.

Add new categories or folders as your business grows. This simple file system is detailed enough to enable quick retrieval of information, allowing you to provide timely answers to customer inquiries, yet easy enough to maintain with minimal effort.

Tips & Warnings

  • Print the file names at the top of the labels or tabs, so you can read them easily when scanning across the drawer.

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