We have all learned valuable lessons during the pandemic, and one lesson I hear about above all other business concerns is a recommitment to accurate and timely recordkeeping. Why? To apply for grant and loan programs, to work with state and federal agencies, to report risk assessments and to gauge overall business viability, one must produce records of expenditures and revenues, profit and losses.

While accurate recordkeeping is always an essential business practice, the emphasis on its importance has surfaced time and again during 2020. Some assistance programs, which opened during the pandemic, carried short deadlines in terms of days. The business owners who could produce records immediately were able to position themselves near the front of the processing queue.

With the many electronic and media-based recordkeeping systems and services now in use by direct marketers, more accurate and complete information is available at our fingertips. Still, one must be committed to the purpose and intent of using systems and services as primary tools for one’s business. If this hasn’t been a foremost priority, now is the time to recommit to recordkeeping.

Whether you hire out portions of these plans to professional services or utilize your own systems, the second step is to develop a recordkeeping plan that works best for you and your business. Determine what type of records are essential to the business and regulatory groups and find the services or software to match. Ask other direct marketers or business professionals how you need to structure your records for best results and analytics. Depending on the type of operation, information sectors may change or require specific recordkeeping.

Do not be timid about seeking assistance in setting up a recordkeeping system that is specifically tailored to your operation. There are any number of business counselors, financial advisers and tax consultants from many different backgrounds to call on. You need to know what information is vital to you as an owner, and others related to your business, and structure the plan to meet those needs. Many agricultural outlets, lenders, trade associations, agencies and cooperatives have advisors on staff to help develop overall business plans with recordkeeping systems as a primary component.

Finally, understand that even the best recordkeeping systems require frequent evaluations and possible adaptations. As we have learned, the business climate is fluid and ever changing. What information is vital to you today could change on a dime. Take the time to frequently review your recordkeeping and implement changes as your business expands and faces new pathways.

As a business function, recordkeeping may not be an “exhilarating” part of the operation, but it represents the structural foundation of what you’re required to know and how to use the information and analytics to your advantage.

The above information is presented for educational purposes and should not be substituted for professional business or legal counseling.