How to protect your business’s confidential information when working with Contractors

How to protect your business’s confidential information when working with Contractors

It’s that time. You’ve been building and scaling your empire like a champ! And now you get to take it to the next level. It’s time to take on some contractors (get yo happy dance on!). After a VA? A photographer or bookeeper, perhaps? As exciting as this next step is, we understand that you may have those moments of uncertainty when you’re handing over parts of ‘your baby’ to another human. The anxious and protective part of you may worry that a contractor would steal your clients or business content and run off into the sunset to start a competitive business. 

We get it. 

But if you want to keep on growing, you’re going to have to let other people in. So let’s support that while addressing your great contractor fear, okay? Let’s talk about how to protect your confidential information as you welcome contractors into the fold – because the reality is that depending on what the contractor has been hired for, they may well have access to some of your confidential info.

Confidentiality Clause

When you set up your Independent Contractor Agreement it’s super important it includes a confidentiality clause and a good definition that explains what you would consider confidential information. This could include client and supplier details, research (like for your super secret design that’s going to change the way we experience morning coffee. Someone could totes want to steal that. We’re a caffeine culture), financial information, business strategies, marketing strategies and more. Don’t skimp on the specifics. 

Don’t forget to include any consequences that exist should they breach this confidentiality this way there is a deterrent right off the bat. These could include fines and charges, though we draw the line on torture. No one should be made to watch Big Brother on loop (just my opinion. Please don’t hate).

Lastly, you’ll want to be clear in your agreement in what cases they can utilise said confidential information, for example client details when they’re keeping your books or setting up marketing ads and mailers (if this is what you’ve hired them for). 

Keep the Secret

Before you share any info with your contractor, identify what exactly you need to share in the first place, and what can and should be kept to yourself. When you’re clear on these details, only share what is necessary to enable them to do their job and mark any information that’s not meant to be shared as confidential so it’s clear verbally and on paper (sometimes multiple times). No sense giving your bookkeeper the design plan to your newest product (that’s totally gonna blow people’s minds with its uniqueness and awesomeness!). 

Key takeaways time, geniuses.

  • Make sure you’ve got the ICA with the sexy confidentiality clause, definitions and consequences for breaching said confidentiality.
  • You’re only sharing the necessary info with the appropriate contractor. This means it’s on a need to know basis. Don’t share if they don’t need to know the deets to do their job.
  • Mark items you send as confidential, like when you send out financial information or any other info you deem to be sensitive or on the DL (in our minds this looks like a giant, big red cartoon stamp on everything. But that’s probably excessive).  

Get it? Good. Now don’t tell anyone what we told you! Just kidding.

Bonus: If you’re not ready to seal the deal but just at the stage of discussing a potential opportunity and you want to share some super sensitive intel and want it locked down hard, check out our NDA (or confidentiality agreement) template

If you seriously are changing the way we experience morning coffee, I want in. K, bye!

 

 

 

Riz McDonald is an e-commerce business owner, business coach, podcaster and a lawyer for over 16 years. She’s also a mum, a wife, and a lover of good wine...she only ever drinks the cheap stuff when she’s stoney broke. 



***Disclaimer. Please read!!***

This article is for general information purposes only and should be used solely as general guidance.  It does not and is not intended to represent legal advice or other professional advice.  

 

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