Archiving – A Chore or a necessity?

Every business owner (or in fact every person) needs to keep records for a certain period of time.  We will outline time periods later in our post.

But can you have paperwork just sitting around in your office taking up valuable space?

Obviously the answer is NO.  So what is required.


An Archiving System!

  • Do you use one in your office?
  • Can everyone easily locate any document?

If the answer is no, then this information may assist you to get started.


Firstly, how long do you need to keep your documents for?


You can find out more information here on the ATO website, but basically most records needs to be retained for a period of 5 years especially if it relates to purchase or sale of property but there are some instances where you only need to keep documents for a period of 2 years, such as a copy of a Payment Summary.



All records need to be kept for 7 years whether hard copy or soft copy.  You need to be able to access documents easily should you be requested to do so.  The ATO are now accepting expense receipts to be held electronicially, for example if you have a taxi docket receipt you can take a photo of this expense and upload it to your PC/Mac software instead of having to keep all expense receipts.  However, make sure that you keep a backup of these files for 7 years.

This not only includes any documents which relate to the ATO and financials, but vehicle log books, capital asset registers, contracts, leases and intellectual property registrations etc.

However, as a business owner you are most likely to keep company registration details etc together with your Operations Manuals as a standard practice as they will always remain a part of your business/company and will be required should you ever decide to sell your business.


Now once you have established how long you need to keep your records, you need to create an Archiving System.

It sounds easy, because it is easy!

As with your filing structure, you need to have a system in place to suit you and your business.  BUT it should be replicated in both paper and online systems.

Create a document which will have headings such as:

Archive Number
Archive Date
Archive Details (this is where you will outline what is in each box)
Signed out of Archive (date & initial if you need to remove from archive)
Signed into Archive (date & initial when re-archived)


Then when you complete a box:

Complete a sheet for the top of each box (which should also be filed with the main sheet).

Each sheet should show:

Archive Number
Archive Date

Detailed information about what is included in the box.


Then, on each box – write the Archive Number and Archive Date on top and side of the box.

If you have space in your office, then perhaps create an archiving area.

However, sometimes this is obviously not practical so do some research in your local area and find storage areas which can accomodate your archiving such as Rent A Space or Fort Knox Records.


As you can see Archiving, although time-consuming, is a necessity for all business owners.

These are just basic tips to get you started and if you feel you do not have time in your day to complete, a Small Business Support Specialist can assist you to start the process which you can then follow.


Hazel Theocharous, Small Business Support Specialist and owner of Expert VA specialises in creating streamlined processes for business owners.  Contact Hazel to find out more about how Expert VA can assist you and your business.