Today’s guest post comes from Don Fornes, CEO at Software Advice. Based in Austin, Texas, Don founded Software Advice in 2005 after working as a software analyst at an investment firm and as a corporate development executive at a pioneering CRM software company.
Organizing corporate files tends to be one of those to-do list items that is consistently overlooked or pushed aside — especially if you’re an entrepreneur or small business owner exclusively focused on growing revenue and keeping the lights on. However, I learned first hand just how detrimental neglecting this task can be.
Back in my corporate development days, I once watched an acquisition delayed after the CEO couldn’t find his articles of incorporation. As an onlooker, I couldn’t believe this could happen. But now as CEO of a growing company, I can imagine how this sort of thing can get neglected amidst higher priorities. Organizing your corporate files can be a big project if it’s not something that you prioritize and manage from the start.
When my company, Software Advice, recently passed $10 million in revenue, we decided to conduct both a financial and legal audit to make sure we were keeping records correctly. Our attorney reviewed our records and made sure they were complete and organized in a logical manner.
While getting organized requires some diligence, your company will benefit significantly in the long run. For example, you can:
– Stay focused on strategic projects. If your documents aren’t organized from the start, it’ll certainly slow things down when you need them, which can be terribly frustrating. It’s best to think of the time spent today as a means to save time tomorrow — so you can focus on those big, strategic projects or deals.
– Be prepared for funding opportunities. Having your corporate files organized is especially important if you decide to go for funding, sell your company or go public. It also looks more professional when you have everything in its place, and can call on a document at a moment’s notice. It’s just good business.
– Easily file your taxes. Tax season can be very stressful if you don’t have all of your receipts and invoices properly organized. Having your files in their proper place will make this easier for you and your accountant.
So How Do You Maintain an Organized Digital Filing System?
I’ve put a lot of time and effort into developing my corporate file taxonomy, and in the spirit of sharing, I’ve listed the outline below. You can duplicate this corporate file and folder taxonomy using your computer or your favorite cloud storage app. Or, you can download a ZIP file with all the folders pre-named, pre-built and pre-organized on my blog. Hopefully this will save you the time, cost and effort of hiring someone to help you create your own.
Just think: if you start and stay this organized, you may never have to search for another document again!