Episode 132 on the Business Bites Podcast
A written agreement with your clients or customers creates legal protection for both of you.
I’m not recommending you DIY your contract, but I want you to have the checks and balances against the attorney you’re using. Knowing how to write a contract can save you money when your attorney reviews and makes small amendments.
You should never go into any relationship without some sort of written documentation. Some key points to include in any agreement are the name of the client, the address, and the legal name of your business and entity. Obviously, you need to include the description of the services and/or the products to be provided, as well as the amount and method of compensation. Depending on your type of business, you may also need to include location details, date and time, etc. And of course, you always want to have the client’s signature, as well as your business representative’s (probably you)!
This is just the skeletal foundation to get you started. There is a whole host of other things that you need to include.
Now for the legal miscellany. What is the dispute resolution method going to be? What happens if there is a problem between you and the client? Are you requiring mediation? Arbitration? Are you going to go to court or not? These are some of the basic provisions that a lot of self-drafted contracts do not include. Also provisions such as waivers, attorneys’ fees, etc. This is where having a lawyer that knows your industry is so beneficial.
The most important thing with contracts besides setting the expectations is reducing the potential for miscommunication. Everything here is not the be all, end all and depending on your industry, there are going to be other specifics, BUT these are the structural basics you need to have no matter what.