Do you know how important archive storage is for your business?
No matter what type of business you have, one thing remains constant, and that is the importance of managing and storing business records. This can be from daily invoices and bills, to tax documents that you only need once a year, business owners must keep track of a large amount of paperwork.
If you are a relatively new business, with just a couple of easy to manage invoices and documents, you may get away with a filing cabinet in your office for the time being. As your organisation gets bigger, you may have to look at better, and more secure options.
Here are some of our tips to help you get started with archive storage!
As time goes on and your business starts to grow, continuing without a document storage plan could be a bit risky. The sooner you start managing and storing business records properly, the more efficient you will be as your business starts to expand.
What Business Records Do I Keep On Hand?
Before you plan anything, make sure you know exactly what business documents you have to store. Here are a few general documents you may want to keep in archive storage:
- Pay as You Earn records, including all payments made to employees, deductions made for income tax, national insurance, student loan payments etc.
- Sales and takings, including till-rolls, sales invoices, bank statements, paying in slips and accounting records, cash receipts.
- Receipts, purchase invoices, bank and credit card statements, cheque book stubs, motoring expenses and mileage records.
- Assets, liabilities, income and expenditure.
- Benefits records including any paperwork relating to sick pay, maternity leave or any employee benefits.
- If your business is VAT registered, you are required by law to keep track of all your VAT accounts.
How Long Do I Keep My Business Records
When it comes to storing business records, companies must manage important documents trough the entire lifecycle.
There are many regulations for historic documentation. Most business documents should be kept for six to seven years, as that is deemed long enough to defend tax audits, lawsuits and potential claims.
It’s important to keep copies of your tax return with all the supporting documents including statements and receipts. Store these safely in boxes or files with the tax year clearly marked.
Paper Archive Storage
Business owners need to keep certain paper records for longer, and these should be stored securely and handled with care. Confidential records should be kept in a room or location with controlled access.
Keep your papers in good quality archive boxes and plastic sleeves to prevent damage or deterioration. Make sure boxes are carefully labelled and indexed so you know where to find what you need quickly and easily.
If you are removing documents, make sure you put everything back in the right places as soon as possible. For record purposes, you may also want to put a note detailing when, why and who removed the documents.
Storing Business Documents On Site
While most storage units are clean, dry and damp-free, your office may not be! If you are storing business records on-site, make sure you can control the temperature, and ensure there is no dampness.
If you do have a larger number of paper files, it may be worth storing them offsite, to free up more office space.
Benefits Of Off Site Document Storage
1. Free Up Office Space
If you choose to store all your important business documents in your office, you may be taking up valuable space that could be put to better use to help productivity. As well as that, storing in your office could create some safety issues as document storage can be big and bulky.
You can free up office space by having a dedicated room where all of your business documents can be stored.
2. Keep Your Documents Safe And Secure
Storing your business documents in the office is arguably not the most secure solution. They could be easily stolen, lost or damaged if they are left lying around. Using a self storage unit to store your archive documents will take away this risk, and you will gain some extra security for your documents too!
If you choose to store your documents in a self storage unit, there are various security measures you’ll be able to take full advantage of. Such as PIN coded access, alarms, lighting, CCTV security fencing, as well as putting an insurance policy in place.
3. Improve efficiency
Choosing to store your archive documents in a self storage unit will help to take the hassle and stress out of trying to find certain files and folders. Rather than running around the office trying to find various documents, you’ll be able to go to your well organised archive room, and will easily be able to locate the specific documents you are looking for! To help take your archiving to the next level, you’ll be able to fit shelving units into your unit, so you can have all your boxes well organised and ready to go!
Other things to remember:
- Place the most popular items closer to the entrance of your unit, for quick access.
- Pack heavier boxes or items at the bottom to minimise collapse and potential injury.
- Consider an inventory management software for easy and accurate record keeping.
- Create a master list of every item in your business storage unit, so everyone knows where to find everything.
- Leave a walk way in the middle for better access to all your archive boxes.
- Make sure to label every box!
The Do’s and Don’ts Of Storing Business Records
- Keep as much documentation in a cloud-based software applications possible.
- Organise your documents into logical categories and folder.
- Use a consistent naming convention for digital files, so that you can easily search for and locate them.
- Back up your most important files in a secondary location, like a USB drive or a portable hard rive.
- Wait more than 7 days after creating or receiving a document to file it.
- Rely on one hard copy. Instead, create physical backups and store them in a separate location.