When you are operating a small business, especially from a home office, it is necessary to organize your business so that you can avoid wasting precious time you can use for something more productive. As it happens, small business owners already spend most part of their day working to establish their business. Disorganized business hours can be a luxury they cannot usually afford to have.

Organizing your small business may not be as difficult as it may seem. It just requires a bit of initial effort. Once you get into the habit of staying organized, it is going to be very easy. Here are a few things you can do to learn how to organize a small business office:

Set Office Hours

Small businesses often get into the habit of working all hours, especially if you are working from home. This might get overwhelming after a while. It is important to determine proper office hours and keep your work within schedule. It also helps your customers and clients to understand when to reach you.

Schedule Time for Everything

Often small things can take up a lot of time such as making calls or answering emails. If you are not expecting a very urgent email or phone call, you don’t need to check on both unnecessarily.

Schedule a proper time for everything; for example, check your email at the start and the end of the day. This will save you from getting distracted.

Separate Work and Home

Often people who work from home are under the impression that flexible hours would be a feasible option. However, it can turn out to be disastrous if you cannot draw a line between your office and work activities.

Once who have set up office hours, avoid doing any personal work at that time unless necessary and communicate to your family your need to work in solitude. Also, don’t end up giving too many hours to your work.

Use Virtual Assistants

As a small business owner working alone, you might not be able to afford an assistant full-time but you can hire a part-time virtual assistant at lower cost.

Virtual assistants are usually students who stay in touch with you through internet. You can delegate your work to them easily. They can proof-read your documents, make presentations or complete projects from their home.

Make Use of Technology

Technology is created to make your life easier. Make use of the technology that is available and affordable for you. Electronic Calendars are available for free which can help you in managing your time in a much better bay.

Software is available which can be used to make your day-to –day work easy and take off responsibilities from your shoulders. Plan a list of anything that can help you and use it to your advantage.

Appropriate Equipments

Buy appropriate equipments you may need to keep your office organized. That would include filing cabinets, plastic trays, paper-clips, paper shredder and storage cabinets. Set up computer so that you are facing a wall in order to avoid distraction. Make sure everything is within easy reach from your desk.

A To-Do List

Create a to-do list for each day. List the tasks according to their priority level and review the completion rate of this list at the end of each day. If you have any unfinished task, make it your first priority for the next day. A to-do is the best tool to keep you focused each day.

Proper Filing and Backup

Even if you are a small business, filing system is an essential for you. You should always file your paper work at the end of each day. Make separate files for all the different types of documents or different projects. If you keep your files on computer, create different folders and keep them organized.

Also, you should maintain a backup of all your information. Usually, all information is saved on one single server location and in case of that server facing problem you lose all access to your data. It is advisable to create a backup on with online storage service provider which you can reach through an internet connection from anywhere.

Keep the Workspace Clutter-free

It is important to keep your working space clutter-free and clean. At the end of each day, devote 15 to 20 minutes to cleaning up your desktop and filing everything where it should be.

If you have papers to dispose of, use a paper-shredder or a cardboard box as “Recycle Bin”. There might be some papers that would not be suitable for any file you may have. Use a tray as repository for excess stuff where all such things can be stored.

Keep Goals and Deadlines

One of the most basic problems a small business faces is lack of planning. Too many things get delayed and you are already spending too much time working. The problem lies in not determining your goals for each day.

When you begin your day, make a list of things you want to get done and assign time to it. Work on every project keeping the time in mind and don’t exceed your time limit.

Many small business owners working from home get too comfortable thinking they have a lot of flexible hours. You may have flexible hours but not flexible deadlines. Once you have a project deadline, divide its work and establish checkpoints such that you ideally finish the project before deadlines. In case of any delays then, you can readjust and still keep your deadlines.

A Place for Everything

Fix a place for everything you use on a regular basis. Many precious minutes of a day are wasted just because you cannot find a paper-clip or a stapler. Assign different drawers for your stationary, files, printing papers and all other things. Once you know where everything is kept, it will only take you a second to get to it.

Keep Well-Maintained Records

Well-kept records can make or break a business, a small one especially. Since small businesses have too much work to do, recording things usually get ignored until the tax time comes and then it becomes a real hassle.

All you need to do is divide the record work among all employees equally and all can work on it for a few minutes before calling it a day. If you do it together, on a daily basis, it’ll be much easier than doing it at year end. Remember, the loss of a single piece of paper sometimes can lead to big financial troubles.

Define Responsibilities and Motivate Employees

Delegating work is good, but when all everyone does is delegate, no work is being done. In small businesses, this happens because there are a lot of unclear job descriptions. Everyone keeps expecting the other to finish the work.

What you need is providing everyone with clear job descriptions and keeping the communication open. When it is convenient for people to communicate, they can easily track the status of work.


Organizing your business is an important thing every small business owner should learn to do. All the effort you need is at the initial level, setting the procedures and habit. Once you know how to organize your small business practices in the first few months, everything will fall into place itself.

So you better start organizing now. It might be tough now, but once you start you will sure find organization is just your thing!

Small business owners, specifically those who have set up a home office usually have limited working space. Combine the fact with an unsorted pile of papers and you will end up in complete chaos.  It is essential for entrepreneurs to have their small business filing system created at the earliest and maintain it before a large amount of paper work piles up.

Initially, setting up filing systems for small business may seem like a tedious and insignificant task, but it is neither. Having a proper filing system can save you a lot of valuable time when you are looking for any particular document and help you become more organized and productive. Filing system for home office is particularly important due to very limited work space and no excessive storage area available.

7 Steps to Creating a Small Business Filing System that Works

Here are a few simple steps that can help you to set up an effective filing system making record keeping for small business an easy task to carry out:

1.Sort Out Documents

You can start by collecting all your documentation and sorting them into major categories like accounts receivables, payables, information, legal etc. Separate the papers carefully and keep them in separate plastic trays for now. Creating small business filing system categories is a very critical part and needs to be done after careful assessment of your needs.

2.Separate Working and Archived Files

Now from each category, further divide the papers into working files and archived files. Archived files are those which no longer need to be reviewed and are permanent files to be stored. Working files can be anything related to your current projects or regular procedures.

Bothe types of files should be recorded separately so that you only have to retrieve working files for your current paperwork needs.

3.Label the Files

Now sub-categorize the files into different categories. For example, your accounts payable can be further categorized into Rent, Utilities, Suppliers’ Payments etc and your information data can be categorized into Prospects, Marketing Campaigns and Financial Statements etc. Now label different files accordingly and make sure the labels are clearly visible and prominent enough to be viewed easily.

4.Choose Location for Filing Cabinet

Now choose a suitable location to fix a filing cabinet. Make sure that the filing cabinet can be easily reached from your office desk. If you have more than one employee, you have to determine who will require access to the cabinet or whether to install the cabinet at a central position.

The available office space is also required to be determined before selecting a size for your filing cabinet. If you need to maintain security, you will require cabinets with proper locks. File cabinets can be lateral, vertical or open-shelf. Also determine the type of fixture you would require to hold the files.

5.Arrange the Files

Now you need to file the paperwork into the labelled files. Filing can be done in different ways:

  • Alphabetic – arranging according to names of clients or intermediaries
  • Numeric – assigning numbers to different document are arranging through these number. An index is essential for such type of filing.
  • Geographic – arranging through geographic locations if you have a global or international business
  • Subject – arranging through a keyword or key phrase
  • Chronological – arranging through time-period

You can also use separate ways for different categories. For example, you can file the utility bills chronologically while you can file the information about new prospects in an alphabetical order.

You can also combine two or more ways, for example you can file the information about your clients alphabetically and further file their transaction details chronologically.

You can also colour code files for different categories such as all you information files can be coded a single colour while all your accounts payable files can be coded in some other colour.

6.Set Up a Retention Schedule

You need to update your filing system regularly. Once a project is completed you will be required to transfer documentation from working files to archived files accordingly.

It is also necessary to determine how long to store a particular document and when to discard it. For example, you may determine that any utility bill dating back to more than a year is of no use. When discarding your documents, make sure you destroy them using a shredder and not just throw them away.

7.Special Files

There may be some files that won’t fit into any other file like different catalogues, take-away menus, maps and certain other miscellaneous papers. Create an extra file or cabinet to store all such files or get separate king of fixtures in your filing cabinet.


Small business document management is an essential part of planning a small business and lack of doing so can lead to major disorganization chaos. Often one single misplaced document can be a lot more trouble than it is worth.

It is necessary for small business owners to sort out and manage their paperwork from very first day in a proper well-defined filing system to save a lot of time and effort after it turns into an unmanageable pile.