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What documents you need to keep from day one

David Norris

ex-Partner @ Forward Partners

As soon as you sign any written agreement on behalf of your company, it's time to get organised.

Key takeaways

  • You need to store certain documents – to comply with the law, and help with fundraising;
  • Some you'll need to keep physical copies of, and others can be kept digitally;
  • Don't forget your data protection obligations.

Organise for success

Having some very basic organisation for day one will help save an enormous amount of time in the future. When you're fundraising, you'll need to quickly access important documents as part of the due diligence process. Physical files

  • Do keep physical copies of any documents that you have. You'll need to file these safely in a folder. Ideally sort them by section and by date.
  • Scan and store paper documents digitally (below). There's no need to print anything that arrives as a digital document

Digital files

  • Use a cloud-based solution like Dropbox or Google Drive to save all of your digital copies
  • Organise them into useful folders
  • Be sure to lock down permissions on accessing these documents
  • Ensure your hosted solution is backed up offline and online. If you use Google Drive, Spanning is an example service that can back up your Drive.

To get started, here's what you need to make sure you file. HR (if you have staff)

  • Any employee contracts past and present
  • Any intern contracts past and present
  • Any consultant contracts past and present

Intellectual property

  • Receipts for domain names (note: ensure these are registered in the name of the company, not in your name)
  • Any patents applied for or granted

Commercial

  • Any partnership agreements
  • Any customer contracts

Company formation

  • Certificate of incorporation
  • Articles of association
  • Shareholders agreement
  • Up to date cap table
  • Any other company house fillings (Director appointment, Share subdivision, share allotment, etc)

Board

  • Meeting minutes
  • Board resolutions

Accounts

  • Purchase invoices
  • Till VAT receipts
  • Bank statements
  • Bank setup paperwork (All these records will help claim any VAT when you VAT Register)

That's all you need to get started. Having it all in one place and easy to find is key.

For the future

As the company grows you'll need to also file the following: Finance

  • Asset register
  • Management accounts
  • Full accounts

Board meetings

  • Board packs

Share options

  • Share option agreement
  • Share option grants

Software

  • Software licence details
  • List of any open source software used

Insurance

  • Directors and Officers insurance certificate
  • Public liability insurance certificate
  • Employers liability insurance certificate

Legal

  • Any legal disputes, past and present – all relevant documentation

Data protection

Remember that some of your documents (e.g. employment contracts) contain sensitive personal data. You have a duty to protect this data. You should always keep your physical files locked in a cupboard and digital files should have appropriate security. See; Data privacy issues to be aware of.

Useful links

David Norris

ex-Partner @ Forward Partners

Scaleup operations expert, ex-COO of HouseTrip, Bookable and IOVOX, previously eCommerce and Website Operations Director at Expedia.

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