Where is your accounts payable file? Or your next appointment? How about your car keys?
We all know that by managing documents and other property in an appropriate manner, anyone can save himself time, trouble, and money. But "getting organized" is not synonymous with knowing how to do bookkeeping. Or having a clean desk. Or making prioritized "to-do" lists. How many people do you know who make meaningless spreadsheets and voluminous lists at their immaculate desks - but they never really accomplish anything??!!
Of course, maintaining one's financial records is a must for any business and individual taxpayer. Yet there is so much more to developing good organizational skills. And it all starts with building better habits!
Here are five "use"-ful tips from AKAS II:
1. USE A BUSINESS STRUCTURE THAT IS COMPATIBLE WITH THE NATURE OF YOUR BUSINESS IN ORDER TO MAXIMIZE PROFITS. With very few exceptions, you can change your business form as your business evolves. If you are overwhelmed with liability and tax issues at start-up, you might be out-of-business before you really get started! Focus on the nuts and bolts of cash flow first. Example: A young entrepreneur was convinced to form an L.L.C. for her new business on the Internet. Unfortunately, her gross revenues were limited by the available megabytes from her her web host - so she grossed less than $1,000 per year! (And what do you think she netted?)
2. USE A RECORDKEEPING SYSTEM YOU UNDERSTAND. Whatever method you choose to record business activity, it must be compatible with your personal logic. Information must be quickly retrievable when needed, even if it is from a shoebox. Example: A client keeps all her business and household data amidst huge piles on her desk and in cumbersome envelopes in a specified drawer. Yet when asked what amount her farming business paid to the agricultural processing plant, she can produce those invoices faster than you boot your computer!
3. USE THE TOOLS THAT FIT YOUR CIRCUMSTANCES. Whether you use a yellow legal pad or Palm Pilot, you must somehow document your daily business activity. Trade bells and whistles for efficiency. Example: A nationally-recognized attorney admits he still uses a DOS-based software for his word processing because of its speed and practicality.
4. USE PROFESSIONAL HELP WHEN YOU ARE UNABLE TO DO THE WORK YOURSELF. Remember the part about '"managing the right documents and other property in an appropriate manner can save your time, trouble, and money?" Example: An artist/client with a leaky roof needed evidence for the roofing company that its 10-year warranty on a new roof installed in 1994 should cover the repair in 2000. He emailed this author, fearing that the precious piece of paper was buried amongst the tens of thousands of tax receipts which we had stored in his garage in 1997. He was relieved to immediately find that original document where it belonged - in a folder a few feet from his computer!
5. USE YOUR HEAD. Always put things back in the same place. That way you'll never lose your car keys. Do your homework. That way you'll know when you need help. Question authority. That way you'll know if your professionals are doing a good job or making a mistake. And if you don't understand something, just ask - especially if you are paying for professional services! Example: The executor of a large estate wrote to one beneficiary that she would need to "have a file" for all the documents he would be sending her regarding her inheritance from her grandfather's various businesses. She immediately went out to purchase a sturdy four-drawer steel file cabinet - but what the fiduciary meant was a file folder!
While these simple suggestions make seem like ordinary common sense to you, it does take some effort. That's why will call it work!
Personal organizers for individuals and recordkeeping kits for "businesses of one" are available via mail order by visiting
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