I wanted to follow up on an earlier article on the ten stupidest things business people do that get them sued with a simple practice that will help keep you safer – documenting your files.
In the old world this often meant crafting “cover yourself” memos for your physical files, but in today’s world this includes email records, paper notes (whether they are scanned or not), and any of the confirming paper trail that documents your relationship with a vendor, employee, contractor, customer, or supplier.
I asked my friend and star attorney Alan Gassman why he felt it was so important for savvy business people to document their business interactions in writing.
He shared, “Nothing is more important in the business and legal world than putting communications and understandings in writing. There is simply no other way to make sure that each side is on the same page as to any endeavor or situation, no matter how large or small. There is no better way to avoid misunderstandings, ignite true alignment and synergism, or to be sure that things are properly thought out than to put the primary points, and the less exciting but equally important details into plain written form. A great many costly disputes and catastrophes are the result of unintentional misalignment that could have been avoided by a simple exchange of well thought out e-mails. And don’t ever think that being able to testify that someone ‘said’ something will hold any water in a court of law.”
What a great summary of why you need a written paper trail:
It’s this last point that I want to address in the remainder of this article – the need to have a clear written trail of what was and wasn’t said.
First, let’s get clear for whom you are writing your notes. You’re writing for three groups of people:
Now you may be saying, “David, this is just so much work, I don’t have the time.” What I’ve learned is that a clear written trail is worth its weight in gold and saves hours of time later. It’s helped me earn more from my negotiations. It’s protected me from vendors who later try to back out of agreements. And it gives me clarity when I myself need to step up and honor my earlier commitments, even if I had to be reminded what they were.
This has enhanced my business relationships and kept my company safe.
If you enjoyed the ideas I shared, then I encourage you to download a free copy of my newest book, Build a Business, Not a Job. Click here for full details and to get your complimentary copy.