The Contract is Your Friend… (Yep Small Print Too!)

To some degree everyone tends to get that feeling of dread when handed a huge contract to crawl through. Some of us suck it up and read it all, others scan and often the majority have grown so weary that they’ll just sign and agree straight up. When you sign that contract thought, do you ever take aminute to think about it from the business perspective?

Trust me I understand that it’s not the most glamorous subject in the world but that’s also why it’s so important. Not everybody is talking about it, apart from maybe lawyers but they are in it for the commission. When you are acting as the consumer it’s all too easy to dismiss the contract, however once you step into the world of the business owner it becomes unavoidable (or at least it should do).

One of the very first things you should be doing with any project you decide to undertake is, create a contract so that all the parties involved have an understanding of the agreement. Here are just a few examples of the times you will almost definitely need a contract on the web or otherwise:

  • Freelance Projects – When taking on a freelance project the specifics will obviously fall back to whichever area you work in.
  • Joint Ventures – In this case I’m discussing the kind where you work in co-ordination with another party to create a product or provide a service etc.
  • Affiliate Relations – Whilst promoting other peoples products you will have almost definitely come across “affiliate agreements” so when it comes to paying affiliates the situation is no different.
  • Selling Products – You will obviously have the initial exchanging of money but you will also need to think about things like return policies. The kind of contract you’ll require on subscriptions and recurring payments is likely to be even more in depth.

Now don’t get me wrong, that was by no means an exhaustive list but you will find that all of these different situations require a contract of some sort. While for many of these a contract is best left to the professional, if you can’t do that you definitely shouldn’t skip this step. At the very least you will want to create a basic contract touching on things like the scope, payment terms, deadlines and responsibilities for all parties involved.

Contracts can save you hours of unnecessary work, unhappy customers, failed business ventures and even protect from you in the case of a lawsuit. With a bit of luck once the contract is signed and out of the way you won’t need to refer to it. However when the sh!t hits the fan (WTSHTF) it’ll be your ass that’s covered.