Back in my corporate development days, I once had an acquisition delayed because the CEO could not find his articles of incorporation. It was unbelievable to me at the time, but now that I run my own company, I understand how some entrepreneurs might overlook such “table stakes” organization.
In the beginning of starting a company, you’re thinking about all the things you need to do to make your company successful, such as hiring the right people and getting funding. But you’re also doing a lot of administrative and legal work, such as filing your corporate documents and tax returns and getting the necessary permits and registrations—and this work is creating an ever-growing trove of both printed and electronic documents.
If you don’t have these documents well-organized, it’ll slow you down when, inevitably, you need to find them. So don’t think of the effort you put into organizing these documents as low-value, administrative filing. Instead, think of it as a small amount of time you’re dedicating today that will save you time tomorrow, so you can focus on those big, strategic projects or deals.
Having your corporate files organized is especially important if you decide to go for funding, sell your company or go public. And personally, I sleep better and feel less stressed knowing that everything is in its proper place, I know where it all is—and I can find it on a moment's notice.
My Corporate File Taxonomy
A few years ago, I became concerned about whether or not I was organizing our corporate files properly. So I engaged our law firm to audit my files and folders and make sure they were organized in a logical manner. To this day, every receipt, invoice and document collected by everyone in our company is scanned and saved in its appropriate folder in Dropbox.
In the spirit of openness and helpfulness, I thought I would simply share my file and folder taxonomy—and save all of you the time, cost and effort of hiring someone to help you create your own. It’s listed below in outline form, but you can also download this ZIP file with all the folders pre-named, pre-built and pre-organized.
You can duplicate this corporate file and folder taxonomy using your favorite cloud storage program or on your personal computer. If you are diligent about using this system going forward, you may never have to search for a document again!