Lately, I have been privy to horror stories and headaches of friends and family members that have had verbal and even written agreements on social media or even just email between people they have trusted to do work for them. When asked if they had a contract in place, the response was always, “I trusted them. We were chatting over (list social media source here) and I thought that was good enough”. Without a contract for yourself as a business owner or a consumer, you are opening the door to allow many an unfavorable circumstance. To insure yourself and your business and even as a consumer, please be sure to have a contract handy or request one.
There are three main reasons why you need to have a contract in place at all times as a business owner. You need to have a contract for the basic principle of Professionalism, for Protection for you and your client, and for Credibility.
One of the major differences between a real business owner and someone that’s just hustling and trying to make some quick money is the level of professionalism that that business owner has. If you are providing a service, having a contract should be a standard method of operations. It shows you are serious about your business and your brand.
Contracts are written documents that are signed and oftentimes even notarized. These documents are finely written and broken down into unmistakable fine print in the event that anything comes up or changes. This is done to protect the business owner and the client. In most cases, if a business owner breaches the conditions of the contract first (i.e.; does not finish work at the promised time or within guidelines), the client is liable to receive their money back without disagreement; otherwise legal action could be pursued.
Contracts are great protective documents because even if you trust the person you are doing business with for one reason or another (you have done business with them in the past, they have gotten great reviews from others, or they are a friend or family member), the contract is there to make sure that everyone stays on their square when it comes to the terms and the conditions of the business relationship.
On a personal note, any work for which I am contracted for (from brand managing clients to proposals and other documents that I’ve been hired to write and when I am hired for events per my online bakery, A Cupcake Brain), I make sure that there is a contract in place. Why? Because protection is very important to me as a business owner. It is very important that I protect my brand and my clients as much as possible with a contract that they can trust. This is also where my credibility as a business owner comes in as well.
Consumers deal with brands that they can trust. Trust is important for literally everyone. Clients can say, “how can I trust you if you do not have your terms in writing just in case?” If a client must deal solely on your word and your word alone, while you may be a great person, when it comes to business, your word is simply not enough. Your word is not “bond”. Get a contract and ease the concerns of your client. You always get brownie points for credibility. Always.
Additionally, contracts are credibility builders because if you use them and haven’t breeched them as a business owner, your business hasn’t been reported to the BBB or other such legal resources. Resources such as the Better Business Bureau usually ask if a business owner had a contract in place, should a consumer or client want to report the business for malpractice. If the business did not have a contract, it is more difficult to report these businesses and seek legal action. For the business owner, credibility is established here because that same consumer/client can report favorably on the business and include the use of a contract as a means of professionalism and protection as well.
The bottom line?
Get acclimated with a contract system for your business. Working contracts eases the stress of the “promises” laid out by either party and helps to protect those parties as well. They are also professional and add (or removes) credibility from your business.