When you run a contracting business, you’ll have to review a lot of paperwork. Understanding the fine print is key because it can affect the way that you handle projects or interact with clients. Use these tips to get more out of your reading.
Take Your Time
When you read through a document before signing up for a service in your personal life, it’s easy to gloss over the details and just assume that you’ll be in good shape. As a business owner, you need to make sure that you understand what you are committing yourself to. Avoid signing a document under pressure, particularly if you feel like you’re in a hurry and need to decide quickly. Instead, take the time to read through it completely and ask questions if necessary. For the most important contracts, take a copy away from the meeting to review in-depth before you agree.
Read in Pieces
The thing about fine print is that it can be difficult and tiring to read. Even if you start out with the best of intentions, you may find yourself skimming over parts as time wears on. Get yourself a pair of reading glasses or a magnifying glass, if the font size is particularly small. Otherwise, plan to read it in pieces. For example, you might choose to read one page, then take a short break to rest your eyes or get a drink of water. This will allow the information you’re reading to sink in a little bit, which may raise important questions or concerns that you need to address. For large documents more than a few pages long, ask for a copy a few days in advance so that you have enough time to read it in stages.
Highlight Important Points
If you have ever put together a contract before, you know that they can include a lot of details in a few paragraphs. Extend that to a document of several pages, and there might be a lot of important information to remember. A good way to increase your retention of those details is to highlight them or take notes. If you have the ability, you can use a highlighter much as you would for a personal textbook. Otherwise, bring a notepad and pen to make notes in your own words. This repetition will help to ensure that you understand the details and can help identify aspects that are confusing.
Write Down Questions
When you spend 15 or 20 minutes reading a document before you sign it, you may think that you will remember everything that came up during your reading. Unfortunately, that probably isn’t true. By the time you reach the end of the document, you may be so relieved to have finished that you don’t remember the questions that you thought of at the beginning. As you read, write down all questions. If they are addressed at a later stage of the document, you can easily cross them out. The questions that are left deserve asking. Don’t feel bad about asking for clarification or for more information before you make a decision. It’s your business, so you deserve to be fully informed.
Ask for Help
If you’re worried that you might miss important details that could change the way that you normally run a project, it’s a good idea to have somebody else look at the document before you sign it. Make sure that the person you choose is someone that you can trust, but also someone who will read through the document as carefully as you. It’s no good to ask for a second pair of eyes, only to have them zoom through it and raise no issues at all. Many business owners keep a lawyer on retainer just for the ability to have an educated eye to review documents on their behalf. It could be well worth the money, particularly for the most important contracts.
Running a business often involves reading and reviewing a lot of documents. It’s a good skill that will help to keep you out of conflict. For more information about how you can build a successful contracting business, contact CSLS today!