We all work hard to make our business goals a reality, and part of that effort is getting the legal ins and outs sorted, amiright? So you may think, hey, I’ve got my contracts in place, so everything is hunky-dory! Nothing to worry about, now! Buuut I’m here to (unfortunately) tell you that just ain’t true. As much as it pains me to say, contracts alone are not enough.
When it comes to setting up a contract, it’s important you make it clear through dialogue with the business or individual you’re signing with what your boundaries and expectations are, to back up said contract. You will only offer so many revisions. Weekend work costs extra. Only 2 meetings are included. Whatever the case may be, you need that client across the table to know your boundaries are and what you’re not willing to compromise on, so they know you mean business. You are not a pushover, friend!
Band Aids Don’t Fix Everything
Your contract should act as a safety net, not a bandaid. Going into any agreement, as mentioned above, it’s imperative that clear, mutually respectful and agreed upon conversations are had. You don’t really ever want to have to refer back to your contract - everyone should know up front what the rules of the game are. If you’re starting to quote your contract, there may already be some hot water starting to simmer...not super fun. So have a contract in place, always! But the real name of the game is to have it there as a ‘just in case it gets to that point’. If your business relationship is clear and cool from the beginning, you shouldn’t have to look at that contract again once both parties have signed!
Another important non-negotiable every business should have is insurance! Contracts are great. They’re legal gold. But they aren’t the be-all end-all. So. Insurance is another protector!
Public Liability is the base insurance you want to rock if you have a business where the public comes for a physical visit (like a salon), but Professional Indemnity, Management Liability, and Business Insurance are all on the table depending on the business you offer - and could be dear, arse-saving friends (that you’ll hopefully never, ever, have to invite over for tea!) in a time of crisis. So do your homework!
Systems and Processes
Do you know what I love? Automation! Another clever little way that you can help keep yourself and those business boundaries even more respected and protected is by automating certain aspects of the client journey. You can send reminders for invoices that haven’t been paid so they stay on track, as well as for feedback, for outstanding items they’ve yet to provide and so on. If they’re consistently getting a nudge, they’ll know you mean business and aren’t going to slack on any aspect of the work that you do.
The truth of the matter is, if you’ve already hit the dispute stage with your client, the water is already hot. That’s no bueno. So be proactive, not reactive, friends. Make your business about more than just signing on the dotted line. Do your homework, get all of your systems, insurances and agreements in place. Be honest with yourself and your client or contractor and make clear your expectations and boundaries. This is your business, but it’s also kinda your life. Protect it, so you can move forward with excitement and possibility!
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Riz McDonald is an e-commerce business owner, business coach, podcaster and a lawyer for over 16 years. She’s also a mum, a wife, and a lover of good wine...she only ever drinks the cheap stuff when she’s stoney broke.
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This article is for general information purposes only and should be used solely as general guidance. It does not and is not intended to represent legal advice or other professional advice.
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