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When you finalize your business contracts and seal them with signatures and stamps, they are legally valid documents. Unfortunately, business owners often don’t pay adequate attention to storing their contracts safely for reliable retrieval in the future.
Why will you need to retrieve your contracts?
It’s important to keep your contracts in a safe in a place where you can readily access them, should you need to review them in the event of a contractual dispute. Usually, you’ll just need them to remind yourself (or your contractual partners) about the terms agreed upon when you got started. But in exceptional circumstances, you might need them in the case of a larger dispute, such as if the documents were called upon in court.
Businesses often make the mistake of storing an early version of their contracts, rather than the final version that is signed and stamped. Different versions of contracts are exchanged during the drafting process, and they simply store the wrong version. It’s important to avoid making this mistake.
You have a number of storage options
Keeping your contracts in a safe place can give you peace of mind. Ideally, you should store your contracts in three different ways.
- Storing physical copies: Not only should you physically save signed originals in a safe place, you should store copies as well. Ideally, the hard copy originals and copies should be in fireproof filing cabinets in different locations. Should something happen to one set of documents, you will at least have the other.
- Storing digital copies locally: Your signed contracts can be turned into PDF documents and stored in a safe, password-protected office computer. It’s a good idea to create a couple of backup copies as well to store in different places. Should one drive crash or be damaged, you can access the documents that you need on another drive.
- Storing digital copies on the cloud: When you put your documents on the cloud, you no longer need to worry about drives crashing. Professionally run cloud storage systems create enough backup copies to ensure that there is no data lost.
While there may be a few risks to do with data breaches associated with cloud storage, storage companies are generally able to implement security far better than the average small business. Considering that businesses are routinely targeted by hackers for the promise of ease of entry that they present, cloud storage makes a lot of sense.
No matter the size or scale of your business, storing your contracts safely should not be an afterthought. Make sure your business contracts are safe and accessible at all times, and you’ll be better prepared for whatever may arise in the future.