Staying organized doesn't come naturally for everyone, but it's critical to running a home-based business. You need to be maintaining accurate, up-to-date records and file correspondence so that you can find it when you need it. The best reason to do so is that you'll save time and make things easier for yourself in the long run, especially when tax season arrives.
However, you need to stay organized for your customers, too. They don't want to waste time while you search for a product catalog or an invoice. They want to feel confident that you're in control of your business and can help them with their needs. So help your customers to feel that way: Keep confidential files in a safe place; back up your computer data regularly; and keep your business records current.
Finding Your Style
Office supply stores have all kinds of storage containers from magazine files to four-drawer wall cabinets. You not only need to figure out which suit your business best; you also need to know which suit you best. If you're happy putting things away in filing drawers, and you know where to find them later, that's great. But if you're more comfortable with piles of paper all over your office, a filing cabinet's not going to work for you: You need to find a system that keeps those piles corralled and tidy-looking but still lets you work with them.
If you're having trouble getting or staying organized, consider calling in a professional organizer who deals with small businesses. You can opt for a one- or two-hour consultation to keep costs down or for the full deal, where they help you set up the system and even help you to work with it. There's also software available to help you manage the contents of your filing cabinet.
If dealing with customers or large projects often keeps you hopping, consider setting aside a time each week that's dedicated to keeping up with filing, cleaning, and organizing. Whatever your schedule, just pick a time when you know you'll have an hour or so to deal with the tasks and keep up with it regularly. The once-every-six-months pile removal method isn't recommended.