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There was a time when business arrangements could be decided and sealed with just a handshake. In this day and internet age, I think the only person who still literally operates this way is my 90 year-old grandfather. But figuratively speaking, I encounter clients on a regular basis who are conducting business in various forms without a written agreement. Here are the 4 most common business situations where a written agreement should exist:
4. Independent Contractor
Now that you know what situations should be covered under the terms of a written contract, and not just on a “virtual” handshake, here are the terms such a contract should address:
- Ownership of material — whether it’s a post from a guest blogger or a co-blogger, who owns what material published on a blog should be addressed.
- Compensation — it’s a sticky subject and one that most people want to avoid. But if you don’t address the matter of compensation, whether it is it for an independent contractor or someone blogging for you, the situation will only get stickier the longer the matter isn’t addressed in writing.
- Scope of Duties/Expectations — reducing the expectations of a a guest blogger, blogging partner or an independent contractor down to a written document clearly defines the parameters under which all parties are expected to perform. Having a conversation about duties and expectations before a relationship is truly formed may seem awkward, but waiting to have the conversation until after the guest blogger submits material and posts it, will only make the situation more awkward.
- Termination of the Relationship — coming up with an exit strategy at the start of a business relationship will make ending the relationship, if it comes to that, so much easier. Clearly defining termination terms at the beginning, before much time and effort is expended on behalf of the business, is actually an easier conversation to have than one may assume.
As silly and impossible as it seems in this day and age to seal a business relationship with a simple handshake, when you operate your business venture without a written agreement, you are doing just that. While having the necessary conversations, up front, to draft the documents necessary to form a good business relationship may seem too uncomfortable, imagine your discomfort when the business relationship falls apart and you both address, for the first time, the terms of the business arrangement.
When entering into a business arrangement, take a moment to reduce the expectations of all involved into a written document. You will be glad you did.
©2010 Kara J. Jensen Zitnick, Esq. All rights reserved