Contracts are non-negotiables for your business. They can help you manage client relationships, protect your intellectual property, and generally make your life as a biz owner easier. But if you’re not including these crucial elements in your contracts, they could be costing you big bucks…or at least a little sleep at night.
Read on to find out what essential elements your contracts should include.
If it’s ever unclear what you’re providing for a client, a description of services in your contract can bail you out.
Your description of services should include details like:
This part of your contract is also super helpful in preventing scope creep. Notice you’re getting requests for more work or more availability without the appropriate changes to your timeline or your pay? It’s time to bust out the description of services with your client.
Don’t skimp out on this part! You can always change or add to your description of services later in an amendment (more on that later) when needed.
By acceptance, we’re not necessarily talking about your signature. Imagine you send a new client an invoice for your work along with your contract. They pay your invoice but don’t sign your contract. This act is actually an acceptance.
In this case, you’ve offered your services to this new client via an invoice. By paying your invoice, they have accepted your offer.
The offer/acceptance thing is a critical part of your contract; this client can’t turn around and say that they never agreed because they didn’t sign your contract. They did agree to the terms of your relationship by paying your invoice.
A contract signature is your best bet in covering your legal booty, but if you can’t get one, an acceptance is a totally fine alternative.
You wanna get paid, don’t you? Then you have to talk about payment in your contracts. Payment details like your payment schedule, or a lump sum amount and date to be paid, should be included in your client agreements.
You don’t have to negotiate afterward or go back and through lots of emails to figure out payment. That takes up your time, your client’s time, your administrative team and VA’s time…get the picture?
What happens if the client wants to cancel or if you want to break things off? Life circumstances, unexpected events, businesses getting bought or closing down, or if you simply want to stop working together. Have a way out of the contract.
There will be new clients, new opportunities, or new directions you take your business. So, make it easy for both of you to have the end spelled out in your client agreements.
How’s that for a fancy legal term? Basically, a severability clause allows you and your client to remove anything in your agreement that isn’t legally enforceable or valid…without making the entire contract null and void.
With this clause, you won’t have to void your entire agreement and rewrite a brand new one just for a tiny grammar mistake or an itty bitty technicality.
Always make sure your contract has the correct person’s name and contact information. This sounds kind of obvious, but when you have enough clients and run your business long enough, you can easily get it mixed up!
Plus, with long-term client relationships, your clients may move, get new email addresses, or change their payment information. You always want your client information up to date so you can send invoices or holiday gifts. We recommend checking your contracts on an annual basis so you know your client info is always updated.
Speaking of long-term clients, things will change. You may find out that you want to restructure your services, or redo your payment system, or make other changes to the way you do business. Having an amendment clause helps you inform your clients of these changes, without having to write and send a completely new contract to them.
With our templates, in fact, you can do this in writing or through email! The changes or additions are sent in an email, and as long as both parties acknowledge said email, the amendment is valid. Convenient, right?
Chasing down payments from clients is not fun. So, lay down the law (literally) in your contract. Make sure your agreement has a section that defines when a payment is late, what steps should be taken next, and what will happen if they don’t pay at all.
We hope it never gets to this point, but you gotta prepare for the worst and hope for the best. Even if you don’t ever have to enforce this part of your contract, you should have it in place so that you don’t stress or make the wrong move when trying to get paid.
If you’re working with high-profile clients or want to make sure your work is protected, consider putting a confidentiality provision in your agreements.
This comes in handy in case a not-so-nice client takes a process, template, or product of yours and shares it with someone else in your field, for example. It protects your intellectual property and clients’ IP, too.
Whew. We covered a lot in this blog! These essentials are super important, but there are other key elements you should be including in your contract. The Rock Solid Contract Blueprint can help you cover all your legal bases with an air-tight client contract. Get your blueprint today!
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