Let's talk about documentation.  I know this is not something that comes natural to everyone.  Some people are painstakingly detailed while others are more free spirited.  But every entrepreneur and business owner should have a plan for their documentation.

As dedicated and as well-intentioned we are in running our businesses, there are still times when a dispute will creep up and cause you a distraction.  These disputes can be small such as a client needing a refund or large such as a lawsuit brought on by a project gone sour.  In any case, you need to have your documentation in order.  Never underestimate the power of keeping good records and copies of information.

Here are five ways to increase your preparedness in the area of documentation:

  1. Email Archiving - This used to be a large undertaking, but today it is as simple as a few clicks and a few bucks.  Having a legal-compliant email archiving solution in place will save you in the event you ever need proof.  An email archive stores a copy of every inbound and outbound message that is sent and received inside your company, in its original form, in a secured database.  This database can then be searched and the original emails can easily be produced on demand.  These solutions have bene proven to be legally admissible so they will definitely help you prevent a possible lawsuit if it ever comes to that.  These solutions also protect you in case an email was lost, deleted, or otherwise messed up since the copies are made automatically before they even hit your inbox, making it fool-proof.  Here is a local company that offers email archiving at an inexpensive rate.
  2. Call Records - Always keep a copy of your call records.  This will help you recall the dates and times of conversations if needed.
  3. Calendar Appointments - Never delete anything historical on your calendar.  Keeping accurate records of past meetings and phone calls will aid in creating a timeline of events, a powerful tool in an argument.
  4. Contracts - Contract management can be a lot to maintain but there are ways to make it easy.  I recommend the Adobe Cloud products to handle signing of contracts, revisions, and storage.  This allows me to track when something was viewed, revised, or signed by the clients.  Then copies are automatically emailed to all parties keeping everyone on the same page.
  5. Historical Notes - Most businesses need some form of a ticket or time tracking system.  These systems should be used to track open issues as well as input time entries for billing and tracking.  These systems should also be used to track events, notes, comments, and other information you may need months or years down the line.  Never underestimate the power of good note taking!

I truly hope you never need any of the information you retain. However, we are all humans and we don't all see eye to eye.  Maintaining good records is an easy way for you to remember the details while retaining proof.