TOS 13: 5 Must Haves for Your DIY Contract
So you need a contract, but think you don't have the money to hire an attorney. Maybe you should just shake hands and trust that it will all work out. WRONG!!
DO NOT continue working on that project until you have put something in writing. You're really shooting yourself in the foot if you do. The gentleman's handshake may work out the 1st, 2nd, or even 3rd time, but if you are serious about your business and its growth, there will come a time when a legal issue will arise and you do not want that to happen without a contract in place.
Now for those of you who say, I can't hire an attorney, I think you should prioritize your savings towards that. In the meantime, don't let that stop you from getting something in writing. It won't be as good as an attorney's and it will probably be missing some of the legal jargon that gives contracts real force, but at least you'll have something.
For those of you who don't want to find yourselves regretting to write a deal down, here are 5 things to make sure you have in your DIY contract.
1. THE PARTIES CLEARLY IDENTIFIED
Make sure your contract clearly identifies the people involved in the deal. If it's a company instead of a person, be clear about that in your contract.
You should include any and all applicable dates like deadlines and starting dates. For some contracts and projects, you may want to include estimated time frames for completion. You want to protect yourself against miscommunication regarding how long work should take. Agree to some dates and write them down.
This is generally obvious, but I don't want to make any assumptions. Make sure you state how much money is involved in the transaction. Do not forget to think about the money issues that may arise if things go wrong. Will you have a late fee? How much will it be? Will there be financial consequences or protections when other people mess up your transactions? You need to think about all the ways money can come up and include it in your contract.
4. SERVICES AND/OR GOODS
You need to be clear about what is being exchanged in your transaction. Are you selling a tangible object or is this a contract about something you will do? Be as specific as possible about exactly what is expected and what is being received in exchange for the goods and/or services you provide.
Your contract may be typed up beautifully and formatted to perfection, but how will you prove that both parties actually agreed to what it says without the signature? Please sign it and have it signed by the other party as well.
So again, this is for the people who want a contract, but lack attorney money at this time. Something is usually better than nothing. More on that later...
- This is not me encouraging you to write up your own contracts over going to an attorney. This is me, however, saying that I know that you might not follow my advice to go to an attorney, so to mitigate or decrease your future issues, keep these things in mind.
- This is also not me giving you any legal advice that makes your contract valid. There are some technical nuances that impact whether or not you have a valid contract. This is not addressing those issues.
- Finally, this is me providing some basic information to help those of you who will try and write up your contract yourself, even though you really shouldn't.