Contracts: The real role of paper in the business transaction
Conversations are always best for solving the many inevitable small disputes that come with this kind of work. We aim to always have them in person if possible – We believe this is natural to building a solid client relationship.
A contract is designed to protect both parties on the occasion that things go wrong in a business transaction because nobody can predict the future. Once both parties have signed the contract, it is then put away and only referred to if a breach of contract is suspected, In that case, we promise to voice those concerns as soon as possible. A contract is what we need to start building trust between all parties. Both parties must make sure they understand everything they agreed to by starting work together.
A contract will explicitly state, with definitions:
The ground rules for working together,
How much money is exchanged and at what phase in the project,
What are the deliverable assets and when are they due,
What are the project phases,
What happens if there is a delay,
Who has the rights to what? What rights do the client get and when? Which do we retain?
What happens when a project goes to hell,
Grounds for termination, kill fees, cancellation fees,
What exactly does “completion” mean?
What happens if clients are laid off? Bankrupt?
Is the client liable to pay our attorney’s fees if a breach of contract needs to be contested in court or if a lawyer needs to be consulted in any way?
The scope of work clearly defined. What happens if it is changed? (New contract)
IP transfers (Upon full payment)
Statements that begin with "Upon full payment of services: …..”
No work is to be started without a contract in place. A contract can’t keep things from going wrong. It will never be a substitute for a solid client relationship coupled with quality work but it is a clear necessity in our line of work.
If presented with a contract from a client, expect us to present it to our lawyer for review. Do not expect us talk to a lawyer without our own present. We will never threaten a client with our lawyer unless it was something our lawyer advised us to do.
Working with friends and family
We tend to avoid working with friends and family. (Don’t take this personally guys. Call me up, we will talk about it.) If we feel bad making someone sign a contract, no matter who it is, it’s probably best not to agree to do the work in the first place. Only if you are confident in your ability to remain professional and responsible throughout the whole process, as I must be with any client, can we hope to navigate this situation effectively.