Business owners often forget the final step to take once their contracts are finalized: storage. There are a few of the different options available to small businesses.
Why Do You Need To Store Your Contracts?
Storing your contracts is important so that they are not only kept in a safe spot but also so that you know where they are if you need to review them at a later date. Ensure that the version that is stored, is the final signed version. Yes, signed. Different versions of contracts may go back and forth in the negotiation phase, so make sure that the copy that you are storing is the final version. Not only will it help to refresh your memory (and your client’s) but if you are ever brought to court over your contract (fingers crossed that never happens!), the lawyers and judge will need to see a final, signed version in order to confirm the contents of the agreement.
Storing your contract is a really important step, not only for your business but for your general peace of mind as well.
(Some) Storage Options
1. Physical storage. As the name suggests, you can physically store your signed documents. This involves printing or photocopying them and keeping them somewhere safe. Of course, the obvious pitfalls of this system is that the documents could be destroyed or lost. Consider purchasing a fireproof safe or a filing cabinet with a lock to prevent these pitfalls from occurring.
2. Hard drive. You can save your signed contracts as PDF copies on your computer hard drive. This method helps to prevent unauthorized access to your contracts, one of the risks associated with cloud storage. When saving contracts on your computer, there is always the risk that your computer could crash and you could lose all of your contracts. For this reason, you should always create a backup of your hard drive.
3. Cloud storage. Cloud storage allows you to access your documents from anywhere and you don’t run the same risks that you would with physical storage and also storage on your computer. Of course, this is not without risks of its own given the realities of data loss/hackers. Look for a provider that has a good reputation in the market – I have heard great things about Office 365 and Dropbox in particular. You do not need to spend a fortune on this type of service.
Personally, I think cloud storage with a reputable provider is the way to go. You can also back up your contracts on your computer hard drive in case anything goes awry in the cloud.
How do you store your small business contracts? Are there other storage methods that you prefer?