You can’t take someone’s word, as legally binding.
This is why we make contracts.
As a VA coach, one of the most frequent questions I get is “Do I need a contract?” The answer is always a big fat YES.
While this can definitely be something that's overlooked, while you're starting your business, it's a really important step to make sure everything is set straight and the expectations for everyone are set in stone.
I also understand that It can be so intimidating to create and send a contract. But I’m here to help!
I don’t care if you’re working for your mom, your husband, or the queen of England, They all get a contract.
Legalities are not the place to cut corners.
Not only is it the best way to perfectly illustrate what is expected from each party, so everyone is on the same page, but it’s also a great way to hold everyone accountable. Things happen, mistakes are made, a contract writes out exactly who is responsible, and how it needs to be addressed, so there is no guess work.
Let me give you an example.
In your contract, you have your working hours, and it doesn’t include weekends. But your client needs something done over the weekend, and they could REALLY use your help.
You could then say, “I’m sorry, it’s outside my working hours”
And you have options.
You could leave it at that, and not help them, if you've got plans or really need the rest day. (they signed the contract after all) OR you could say “I’d be happy to help! But since it’s outside my working hours, an additional fee of X will be added to this month’s/ week’s invoice”
Now you're keeping your boundaries, while giving them a choice, on how bad they need your help. And since it was in your contract that you wouldn’t be working these hours, there’s nothing to guess or waste your time pondering or rearranging your schedule to help.
This makes all the difference.
A contract is only as good as its contents.
So let’s get into the nitty-gritty.
Sometimes, it’s a fine line between through and too wordy. Keep it as short as possible, nobody wants a 12-page contract, but make sure to include everything necessary.
What you should always include:
Names and contact info of both parties
The date it’s signed
How long the contract is in place for
How much you’re getting paid and how often
How you should be paid
How often you should be paid
When your invoices are due
What the late fees are
Your working hours
Any deadlines if there are any
How passwords are to be shared
A confidentiality agreement
How long each party should give if they wish to terminate services
How time will be tracked
If there is anything else that is a non-negotiable for you… or any boundary that you have... put it in the contract!
Signed, Sealed, delivered, and most importantly... saved.
A lost contract is no use to anyone.
Now that you've written it out (I suggest making a template of it as well) Go ahead and send it to your client to be signed.
Once you’ve both signed it, make sure you each have a copy. Be sure to save your copy in a place where you can
very easily find it!
I recommend having a dedicated cloud folder, for all contracts, and naming each document as the person’s name, if you ever needed it you could just pop into the folder, type the person's name and boom. You're good to go.
Pro tip: Do not keep it in only a local folder, make sure it's an online drive or backup hard drive, just in case something happens to your computer.
And there you have it.
Be sure to cover your basis in your business, this new biz is like having a new baby and you want to do everything you can to protect it!