Hopefully you’ve been heeding the advice we’ve been giving you in our posts about good habits small business owners should adopt—reconciling accounts, diligent bill paying, keeping current with receivables and always paying payroll and sales taxes. Here’s one more positive behavior to add to your roster: opening the mail your friendly neighborhood postal carrier brings you every week.

If your mail is like mine, there’s a lot of junk in your mailbox every day—pitches for credit cards you don’t need, coupons for restaurants you’ll never go to, catalogs you’ll never buy from, and the like. However, mixed in with all that unnecessary paper, there’s likely some very important items. If you ignore your mail, which is all too easy, you’ll risk missing bills, checks and other critical items—and overlooking those could be costly.

First, make a point of opening your business mail at least every other day. Then, you’ll be tackling just a few pieces in small, easy-to-manage batches. Wait longer than that, though, and that small pile of mail could become a mountain. What’s more, opening your mail regularly will reduce the likelihood you’ll miss customer payments, bills, contract notices, love letters from the IRS and more.

Additionally, make sure all of your business mail is sent to one place, even if you have multiple locations. You might be inclined to have correspondence sent to your home, for the sake of convenience. Unfortunately, that could backfire, because having more than one outpost for your mail means you have more batches of mail to keep track of. It increases the chances that you’ll be late in catching an important correspondence, or that you’ll lose it completely.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that, in our age of increasingly digital communication streams, all your important messages will come via your email inbox. There are still entities that prefer to conduct some or all business communication through the mail. Banks and government agencies, for example, often choose to send certain notices only by mail—if you’re not regularly checking your mailbox, you will miss those overdraft notices, payroll tax deposits and returns, and other significant items. Years ago, a client learned this lesson the hard way, and their bank account had been frozen due the check fraud. I worked with them to address and correct the issue, but while we tackled the problem, payroll tax deposits were still hitting the frozen account. It’s a good thing we’d reconciled the account and opened the mail on a schedule, or our discovery that payments were missing the IRS would have been much later, the fix much more complicated, and the consequences costlier.

If you find yourself struggling to make time opening your mail regularly yourself, then definitely delegate the task to another staffer. This is a great way to ensure someone is accountable for monitoring your mail, bringing notable notices to your attention and making sure customer payments are received and deposited.

Any questions? Reach out to me at Daliah@MySmallBusinessPro.com; I’d love to talk to you.