By: Ryan Malone
Article by Lucy Reed
4 Guidelines to Creating Contracts as a Consultant for Businesses
If you work as a consultant for any type of business, whether you’re running a digital marketing agency, serving as a public relations specialist, or implementing SEO improvements, you need to use contracts for every transaction. Before you agree to any services, you’ll want to have a contract in place. From PDH Now, here’s how to write contracts that benefit your business as well as your clients’ interests.
Why Are Contracts Necessary?
Working without a contract might seem easier in some cases, especially during instances when you’ll be working as a consultant for a business where you know your points of contact personally. But verbally agreeing to a set of terms is not legally binding, and if your client doesn’t abide by the terms you discussed, you’ll have no legal recourse. Business contracts maximize your company’s protection in case things head in the wrong direction in a corporate relationship. You’ll likely need contracts for a variety of purposes, such as business operating agreements, working with independent contractors, establishing non-compete or non-disclosure clauses, hiring or terminating employees, entering a consulting relationship, or forming a business partnership.
Get the Right Tools
Writing a contract is much easier when you have access to helpful tools. Contract management software might be the first option that comes to mind - a program like this can manage every step of the contract lifecycle for you, from initiation to termination. Additionally, accounting software is a must-have for any business consultant. With an integrated accounting system, preferably with cloud-based tools that you can access from anywhere, you can easily assess your company’s financial status as you develop contracts. Accounting software lets you check in on your cash flow in real-time so that you can move forward with negotiations accordingly.
Another software tool that you’ll want to keep in mind is for handling PDF files. You may have occasions when you need to send only a couple of pages from a larger contract file. In those instances, you can upload your PDF and extract certain pages with an online editor. Once you have the pages selected, you can download them to send. This can be much faster than trying to send an entire document.
Contract Writing Basics
In your contract, you’ll need to map out the obligations and rights of all parties involved in the agreement or transaction. Ironclad states that you’ll need to incorporate a few additional clauses in regards to indemnification, force majeure, limitations on liability, confidentiality, copyright, use restrictions, termination, warranties and disclaimers, dispute resolution, and privacy. Writing a business contract does require an in-depth understanding of legal language, so you may need assistance from a contract lawyer.
Negotiating Contract Terms
Chances are, you and your client will need to go through a couple of rounds of negotiation in order to come up with a set of terms that suits both of you. Keep your communications centered on your mutual key objectives, talk to the right stakeholders, bring research to the table, and make sure that you fully understand your client’s goals as you work out appropriate terms. You should also take care to keep all communications private and take your time as you work through negotiations.
When you started working as a consultant, you probably knew that being self-employed would introduce you to some new responsibilities, but you might have overlooked the need for strong contracts. However, it’s never too late to learn the ins and outs of contract law. With these guidelines and some negotiation skills, you’ll be able to write contracts that keep your assets safe.
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