Many small businesses take on the task of doing their own accounting, but it’s hard to run a business AND keep everything organized.

Fortunately, it’s easier when you know what to keep and how to store it and what you can discard safely. Keep these tips in mind if you find yourself doubling as your own accountant.

Storing Your Information

Using a computerized system can help cut down on clutter, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep paper copies in case your computer kicks the bucket. Investing in backup software is a wise decision, too.

Scanning documents with optical character recognition (OCR) can help you locate physical copies more quickly. If you have files in storage, include the box or file number in the scan file name.

What to Keep and What to Toss

Part of an effective organization system is knowing what to keep and what you can discard.

The first thing you’ll want to keep is any tax information, for a minimum of three years. After three years it’s safe to keep only digitized copies.

Keep employee records until an employee has left the company and been away for over three years. After three years it’s appropriate to destroy them as necessary.

Keeping Things Simple

Set up a specific system and ensure that everyone follows it. For example, mark all files with the company’s name the exact same way. That way, it’s possible to re-organize files without worrying about items being put in the wrong order.

Be sure to always put new documents in the front of each file rather than just throwing them in anywhere. Doing so will help you find things faster and spot anything that may be in the wrong place.