If you are a small business owner and not looking at your business agreements regularly, you are very likely overlooking something important and taking unnecessary risks. The truth is that most agreements do not need to be written to be valid, but it sure does help when there is a dispute about what the terms of the agreement really were.
Some business agreements are more important than others, and the difference is often because they are with people who are key in your success. Let’s look at some of the relationships in which this would be the case:
Partners – if you are in business with one or more other people without a partnership or shareholder agreement, you are at risk. Your agreement needs to address what happens if one partner wants to leave, if one partner dies, and if one partner wants to buy the other out and more.
Employees/Independent Contractors – if your business has employees or you hire independent contractors, you will need an agreement that spells out their duties and compensation, as well as the company policies they are expected follow.
Customers – if your business has clients or customers, your relationship with them should be governed by a written contract or by the Terms & Conditions of the product or service they purchase from you.
Vendors — it is best practices to have agreements with the vendors who serve your business. Specifically, if you use creative types, such as graphic designers, web developers, or copywriters, it is imperative that you make sure your agreement has a “work for hire” clause in it. Without it, you don’t actually own the intellectual property your vendor is creating for you. Call us if you need a vendor agreement.
Every business has at least one of these five – so if you run a business, you need to get on top of your contracts. And forget the idea that contracts have to be complicated or written in legalese – they don’t! The best contracts are written in language that the average person can read and understand clearly. That is how we draft the business agreements for our clients.
We can even prepare a standard template that you can use over and over again. But whatever you do, do not overlook the importance of well-drafted, well-considered agreements. You put written business agreements in place because you care about the relationships with the people you are doing business with.
An experienced business attorney can help you create a contract that will precisely define the relationship between you and your partner, your employees, your contractors, your customers and for your website. Having contracts in place protects your business from potential costly litigation and will deter others from taking advantage of you.
If you’re a small or mid-size business owner, call us at (612) 206-3701 or fill out our contact form today to schedule a business consultation session.
Image courtesy of Jeroen van Oostrom / FreeDigitalPhotos.net