Starting a Business

Seven key documents you need to run your business

Find out which documents to use while running your business.

1. Corporate tax records

Established businesses will need their financial statements and tax filings. If you are a start-up, you also will need to keep your personal tax records of the past seven years, as your company has yet to establish a financial track record.

2. Legal agreements

These are agreements with employees or independent contractors, suppliers, distributors or customers. These kinds of documents create confidential relationships with contractors, employees, or partners over such sensitive matters as customer lists, finances, or future plans and may be needed to establish or confirm your ability to do business on an ongoing basis.

3. Licenses and permits

These documents demonstrate that your business is properly licensed and can legally operate.

4. Incorporation documents

These documents evidence your business's formation as a legal entity. They include your business's articles of incorporation, articles of organization, bylaws, operating agreement or partnership agreement depending on your legal structure, such as a corporation, limited liability company, or partnership.

5. Contingency plans

This document should describe steps your business will take to handle the impacts of either falling short of expectations or exceeding plans.

6. Business plan

This document is your business's roadmap, detailing how it will achieve its sales and financial goals.

7. Company handbook and HR documents

These workplace guidelines provide basic employment information and policies such as performance reviews, job descriptions, and employee conduct.

Learn more about business plans and building your company handbook.