If you are running your own business and not looking at agreements regularly, it’s likely you are overlooking an important piece of your business and taking unnecessary risks. The truth is that you do not need to have written agreements to have a valid agreement, but it sure does help when there is a dispute about who intended what.
What really matters is the agreement process you enter into with the people who matter.
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 and you do not have a partnership or shareholder agreement, you are at risk. Your agreement needs to cover what happens if one partner wants to leave, if one partner dies, if one partner wants to buy the other out and more.
Employees/Independent Contractors – if your business has employees or you hire independent contractors to perform business functions, you will need an agreement to spell out their duties and compensation as well as any company policies they are expected to adhere to.
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 — you must have agreements with the vendors who serve your business. Specifically, if you use creative types, such as graphic designers, web developers, or copywriters, you want to absolutely, positively 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 the above – so if you run a business, you need to get comfortable with executing contracts. And forget any preconceived notion you have that contracts have to be complicated – they don’t!
You can even have us prepare a standard template you can use over and over again. But whatever you do, do not overlook the importance of well-drafted, well-considered agreements. You put agreements in place because you care about the people you are doing business with.
As a Creative Business Lawyer™, I can help you create a contract for any business relationship you have 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 today to schedule your comprehensive LIFT™ (legal, insurance, financial and tax) Foundation Audit.