4 Tips for Managing Your Never-Ending Paperwork Burden

Date: March 14, 2017

Between federal, state, and local laws and regulations, small businesses are buried in paperwork. Large companies have entire departments devoted to legal and regulatory compliance, but small businesses don’t. Here’s how to manage it.

Establish a routine

Being unaware of a requirement won’t spare you penalties and fines, so regularly check the government agency websites relevant to your business for new paperwork requirements. Fortunately, many agencies have sections devoted to record-keeping that identify all required forms and provide electronic copies. —Dan Bosch, NFIB senior manager of regulatory policy

Create a master plan

Put together a master plan that includes a detailed regulatory and renewal calendar. The plan should also include an overall policy and procedure that covers all regulations that apply to your business. Once this is fully implemented, compliance costs go down significantly because your business will be in a proactive position rather than a defensive one. —Braden Perry, regulatory and government investigations attorney for Kennyhertz Perry in Kansas City

Be audit-ready

Have all documents for each regulatory agency organized in one place and up to date in case of an examination or audit. This will prepare you for an audit and alleviate the stress of scrambling to find requested documentation at the last minute. —Braden Perry

Destroy old records

Old customer records, or old unneeded information, should be destroyed. Don’t store it in a warehouse or a basement of your building. If someone gets in there and uses it, you’re liable—you open yourself up to a huge can of worms. —NFIB member Cade Joiner, Shred-X Corporation



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Paper Problems

How much does it cost small businesses per hour to complete paperwork? A lot.  

  • $48.72/hour: overall average
  • $74.24/hour: tax-related
  • $62.16/hour: financial
  • $47.96/hour: licenses and permits
  • $43.50/hour: government information requests
  • $42.95/hour: customers and clients
  • $40.75/hour: personnel
  • $39.27/hour: purchases
  • $36.20/hour: maintenance

Source: NFIB Research Foundation

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