Scary stories about running your own business

Scary jack-o-lanternsPart 1

What scares you about running your own business?

To get you in the mood for Halloween, this is the first of a two-part series dealing with some spooky situations associated with running your own business. To be honest, there are lots of scary things, but we’re going to focus on the day-to-day operations.

The first is from Lynn in Canada. Here’s her situation:

“I run our family business out of our home, so I have 7 years of business receipts and statements to store. I’m running out of storage space. What can I do about it and how long do I have to keep all these receipts and statements?”

Lynn, that is a spine-chilling situation.

Many business owners have the same issue you’re having. Keeping and storing paper receipts can be a nightmare … not to mention a real pain, especially for those with small offices.

Since you’re in Canada, I’ll give you the Canadian taxation standards for keeping receipts. (For those living in other countries, you’ll have to check with your relevant government agency.)

Canada Revenue Agency says companies must keep their financial records for six years. I like to keep six years (including the current fiscal year) plus one for good luck. I always advise my clients to check with their accountant, just to be on the safe side.

The second part of your mournful situation is storage. It doesn’t take long before all those piles of paper receipts become unruly, like a werewolf on the prowl.  Having all that paper clutter around is terrifying. It leaves us stressed and frustrated.  If storage is at a premium, all those pieces of paper can take up a lot of space, like a bunch of zombies in an elevator.

To address this, many small business owners (including me) have found relief by scanning receipts and shredding the paper copies. Scanning has other advantages other than taking up less space. It’s also easier to search for a digital receipt. Again for those living outside Canada, check to make sure your government taxation department accepts digital copies (and what format they prefer).

If you have a lot of receipts to scan, I’d recommend investing in a scanner that specializes in doing just that. Neat Receipts gets great reviews. It’s portable, scans receipts, business cards and documents and comes with software to help you organize all these bits and pieces on your computer.

Whatever scanner you choose make sure you don’t have to be a wizard to make it work.  No magic spells should be necessary for you to scan, file and share your digital receipts.

Also, to prevent the torture that comes if your hard drive crashes, make sure you back up to an external source so your receipts are safe and sound.

Do you have any nightmarish tales of running your business? Share them below and let’s continue our spooky conversation. 

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