Getting a new client is an accomplishment, whether you’re with a big company, a small company, or you just work for yourself. Moving forward, it’s important that you and your client establish through writing exactly what the details of your relationship is, and what you will be doing for them. This is where a business agreement or business contract comes in.
Contracts, when written correctly, are legally binding documents that hold both parties – the client and the business performing the duty in question – to the terms of a business agreement. When created properly, written business contracts ensure that, at the end of the day, you’ll get paid, and your client has the work they want done.
What You Must Include
There are a few things that a contract should include, so both you and your client can guarantee the best deal possible. It’s not necessary that your contract be this long and terrifying legal document. A contract does, however, need to address all the possible situations that may arise in the span of your relationship with your client, and contain some of the following details:
Names of the Parties
It’s obviously important that your contract state at the outset who is involved in the business dealing in question. This means that it should include the names of all parties that will be involved in the completion of said business, including company names and addresses. That way, there will be no questions as to who has what responsibilities.
Agreement Between the Parties
It’s a good idea to lay out exactly what the business relationship between you and your client will be, especially in terms of which party will have what responsibilities, what the actual end product is expected to be, when things are due along the way, etc. This part – the agreement portion of your contract – will likely be several provisions, and the most detailed part of your business contract.
You want to make sure that you discuss with your client both their expectations, as well as yours, and include any and all agreements you have come to in written form in this part of the document. That way, if a question arises regarding who owes what and when, both parties can turn to the business agreement to answer all questions.
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Most importantly – for you at least! – is that when you produce what your client expects, you get paid for all your hard work! There are different ways to set up a payment plan with your client that will fit both parties. Options include having your client make an initial deposit up front and then a final payment for the rest of the amount upon delivery, making payments upon deliverables or mini-projects throughout the term of your contract, and most importantly, the exact amount you expect for everything that you’ve done.
How the Contract is Terminated
How a contract is terminated can come up in several ways. Hopefully, your relationship with your client will end because the task you’ve been assigned to complete for them has been finished. Unfortunately, however, you may also want to end your contract with your client (or they with you) if a disagreement arises between the parties. Regardless of the circumstances, it’s always important to include how this legally binding contract will be concluded. Options for this type of provision include mutual termination agreements, or one party having the ability to terminate due to cause.
While business contracts don’t necessarily have to be very long, they should detail extremely explicitly what both you and your client are expecting from your business relationship. Your business contract is essentially going to be an instruction manual as to how you and your client will work together moving forward. As a result, it’s best to be as detailed as possible regarding all situations you foresee arising during the execution of the work in question. That way, when any question arises – whether it be payment, a deliverable, or even how to change the terms of the contract – this document can be a guide for either party on what to do moving forward.
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Using Clear Language
Similarly, when writing out the details of your agreement with your client, you should use a clear language. The term “business contract” can seem pretty scary, since it is a legally binding document. But if you use clear language to state the intent of both parties, there’s much less chance for misreading a provision or misunderstanding an expectation.
Let’s review a list of our 5 favorite contract preparation resources available online:
- Simple Music Contracts
Simple Music Contracts, a legal music contract service helping all kinds of musicians, artists, and bands have professionally drafted contracts that protect their music, money, and reputation. This service offers contracts that are professionally drafted by an entertainment attorney who understands the ins and outs of music’s copyrights protection.
An open source collection of legal contracts. The website includes tools for e-signing and all documents are free to download, customize, store and e-sign.
- AIGA Standard Agreement for design services
- Sample designer contract by Speider Schneider
- Contract for Design Works by Dan Wong
- SuperFriendly agreement
Example agreement used by SuperFriendly, a US-based design studio. Simple and easy to read, you can use this example as a starting point to create your own agreement document.
- Contract Killer
Contract Killer is a popular open source contract for web designers, by Andy Clarke. Another easy to read, plain English agreement with no jargon or legalise.
Don’t want to scan, sign and email back a PDF? Here is a selection of e-signing services you can try instead:
- Adobe Echosign
- Right Signature
E-signature are easy and legal in many countries, including the United States, the European Union, India, Brazil and Australia. Electronic signatures have the same legal consequences as the more traditional forms of executing of documents.
While business contracts or agreements don’t necessarily have to be confusing or long, as we’ve said before, they are legally binding. And things like the amount of time it will take to get a project done, the more complicated an expected final product may be, etc. can add confusion and length to any document. If you want to be sure that both you and your client are getting the best deal possible for both of you, it’s sometimes a good idea to hire an attorney specializing in contract law. That way, both parties can rest assured that they will get what they expect at the end of your relationship.