June 28, 2016 – Issue 36
Photo: Contracts (leslieladylaw) © www.flickr.com
If your business is fairly new, two to three years old, is it ready for growth? Have you identified and started to develop the necessary documents, templates, and contracts you need to deal with the daily workings of your business and to help it move forward?
If you are planning to hire staff, have you developed job descriptions, performance evaluations, policies and procedures to support and guide your new staff?
If you haven’t taken any time to plan or identify what type of documents you need in your business, you may be doing more work than you need to and you may be putting your business at risk.
“Being proactive means being able to anticipate what the future will be and
to react accordingly before it actually happens.”
We do business with people we know, like and trust. As we meet people through networking events, conferences, trade shows and introductions from other business owners, we establish various types of relationships. I had met an individual through various networking events over a two year period. When our strata complex felt a particular service we were receiving with one company was questionable, I asked this business owner who I had come to know, like and trust, to come out to do an assessment of our situation. We were pleased with his approach and response to the problem and we hired him.
However, when it came to signing his contract, I noted there were a number of critical issues with it. He indicated in his nine years of being in business this was the second time someone expressed any concerns with this contract. Interesting that he had done business with various types of businesses and strata’s and no one had picked up that the contract was protecting his company’s rights and not his customers. He had used a copywriter who was not versed in creating proper legal documents. When he presented an updated contract, it was more of an invoice versus a contract. He again had to go back to the drawing board to develop a proper contract.
Most businesses that provide services will need to have some form of a contract for their business. Therefore, it is important to create a contract early on in the start-up of your business. Your contract doesn’t need to be complex with a whole pile of legal verbiage, however it should include these things below to ensure it is legal:
- Your company name, address, phone number and email address
- The date the contract is written
- The correct customer’s name, address, phone number and email address
- A beginning and end date of the service
- Clearly identify what services are to be provided
- The amount to be paid and by when
- A place for the customer’s signature and date when the contract is signed
- If additional information or special instructions are listed, ensure the print is readable without someone having to use a magnified glass to read it, even if it means using two pages or legal sized paper.
- Identify your guarantee which states you stand behind your product / services.
“It’s better to look ahead and prepare than to look back and regret.”
It’s important for your business to have a proper contract in place. This protects you and the clients you serve and hopefully it will prevent you from having to deal with any issues down the road. For the average business a simple contract with clear, plain English will work. The internet is a wealth of information hence utilize it to gain a variety of examples and ideas to create your contract. Everything should be laid out clearly in black and white in the contract. As the expression goes you want to ensure you dot your “i’s” and cross your “t’s”.
Do it correctly the first time. If this is an area that may not be your strength, then use the services of a copywriter versed in creating contracts, a lawyer or notary to create a simple contract that will work for your business. Otherwise you may end requiring a lawyer’s service anyways at a later date which could end up costing you more money, increased stress, headaches and possibly your reputation.
If your business presently doesn’t have some form of a contract in place, I would highly recommend you plan to set aside time soon to begin the process of creating one. In my next blog, I will discuss other documents that are necessary and beneficial for your business.