contracts http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/12646/all en-US Get It in Writing: A Quick Guide to Agreements and Contracts http://www.wisebread.com/get-it-in-writing-a-quick-guide-to-agreements-and-contracts <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/get-it-in-writing-a-quick-guide-to-agreements-and-contracts" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/contract-4978870-small.jpg" alt="contract" title="contract" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Everybody's heard that worn-out piece of wisdom &mdash; get any deal you make in writing because something could always go south with the deal. We hear it regularly, but not all of us do it. It's a bit of a hassle, especially for small agreements. It doesn't make sense to require a contract if you're paying a neighborhood kid a little cash to mow your yard, after all. And if you're not writing out that agreement, why write out something that's a little bigger? Before you know it, it's easy to justify avoiding contracts entirely. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/16-things-your-lawyer-wont-tell-you" target="_blank">16 Things Your Lawyer Won't Tell You</a>)</p> <p>But it's time to refresh the saying and start following it a little more closely. It is important to get things in writing &mdash; and it's even more important to know what that writing means.</p> <h2>You Need It in Writing, Even When You Think You Don't</h2> <p>Technically, a verbal contract is supposed to hold up just fine in court. But the reality is that you can get into a situation where each side of the argument remembers the contract in a different way. Neither side may be lying in such a case. If the deal was not incredibly specific, each party may remember his <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-7-laws-of-negotiation" target="_blank">interpretation of the deal</a>, rather than the actual words used when the deal was struck.</p> <p>Writing down the terms of an agreement does more than make legal situations easier to sort out. The act of writing encourages you to be as specific as possible. As you're writing, you may even find some details that really ought to be hashed out before you finish setting up the agreement.</p> <h2>Ask for Help</h2> <p>I'm not a lawyer. You <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/finding-legal-representation-for-your-business" target="_blank">should consult a lawyer</a> any time you're not sure about signing a contract or an agreement, as well as get help when constructing your own contracts. There's a question of practicality in play, of course. You're probably not going to worry about legal counsel unless there's enough at stake to make it worth the cost of consulting a lawyer.</p> <p>But any time you feel out of your depth, you should make a point of asking for help.</p> <h2>The Difference Between Contracts and Agreements</h2> <p>When we think of contracts, our minds often go straight to documents written with tons of legal jargon. In reality, a contract can be written plainly. A contract just has to be a legally-binding agreement that meets certain requirements, such as showing a benefit to be received by each side of the agreement. Many agreements are legally binding, even when they aren't contracts, but not all are.</p> <p>Since we can't all go to law school, it's best to plan to jot down the key terms of <em>any</em> agreement you come across, and don't worry about whether it's a contract or not.</p> <p>You also want to make a point of reading any agreements presented to you before you sign them. As much as no one ever wants to do so, this even includes reading the fine print presented to you when you sign up as a member of a website.</p> <h2>Understanding Legal Capacity</h2> <p>One of the key issues that goes along with making a valid contract (or even an agreement) is that the people involved have to have legal capacity &mdash; the ability to understand what they're doing when they sign a contract. Someone who is intoxicated or mentally ill, for instance, cannot agree to a contract.</p> <p>There are specialized laws to deal with minors. Someone who is a legal minor can make a contract, but he can also &quot;disaffirm&quot; a contract, essentially backing out of it. In such cases, the minor is required to return anything he gained through the contract. There's a legal quirk where trades or barter (including when a retail item is purchased for cash) are not considered contracts.</p> <h2>Dealing With Boilerplate</h2> <p>Quite a bit of a contract may be standardized, but what is considered boilerplate (the text of a contract that can be used over and over again for similar situations) can differ between types of contracts, industries, and other factors. It's worth studying up on the clauses you're likely to see often, but don't be surprised any time you see a new one. These are a few of the more common provisions you may see:</p> <p><strong>Waiver of Jury Trial</strong></p> <p>Many contracts will include a clause requiring that, in the event of a problem, the parties go through arbitration, rather than take the matter to a jury trial.</p> <p><strong>Notice Provisions</strong></p> <p>In the event of changes or termination of the contract, each party needs to be notified. That requirement is written out as a notice provision.</p> <p><strong>Governing Law Clause</strong></p> <p>Because laws can differ by state, most contracts include a clause specifying which state or country's law the contract will be enforced under.</p> <p><strong>Force Majeure Clause</strong></p> <p>Things happen that are outside of the control of any one party, ranging from wars to hurricanes. Therefore, many contracts include a clause that lays out what should happen in the event that one party can't carry through on the contract due to one of these causes.</p> <p>There are plenty of clauses and provisions that show up on a regular basis in different types of contracts. It's worth investing time in learning about the specifics of the <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/estate-planning-why-me" target="_blank">types of contracts you'll likely deal with</a>. The same goes for the laws that help define how we handle contracts and other agreements. At minimum, learn about how broken contracts are handled in the courts of the state you live or work in.</p> <p><em>Have you ever been surprised by a clause in a contract or agreement? Have you ever wished you'd &quot;gotten it in writing?&quot;</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/thursday-bram">Thursday Bram</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/get-it-in-writing-a-quick-guide-to-agreements-and-contracts">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-dangers-of-mobile-banking-and-how-to-avoid-them">5 Dangers of Mobile Banking — And How to Avoid Them</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/no-signal-5-quick-ways-to-boost-your-cell-phone-reception-updated">No Signal? 5 Quick Ways to Boost Your Cell Phone Reception. Updated.</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-things-you-should-do-immediately-after-losing-your-wallet">10 Things You Should Do Immediately After Losing Your Wallet</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-vile-craigslist-scams-to-watch-out-for">8 Vile Craigslist Scams to Watch Out For</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-student-who-created-a-pr-nightmare-via-wikipedia">The Student Who Created a PR Nightmare Via Wikipedia</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Consumer Affairs contracts legal advice legal agreements Fri, 17 May 2013 09:48:59 +0000 Thursday Bram 968385 at http://www.wisebread.com 3 Must Have Business Agreements http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/3-must-have-business-agreements <div class="field field-type-link field-field-url"> <div class="field-label">Link:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="http://www.openforum.com/idea-hub/topics/managing/article/3-must-have-business-agreements-barbara-weltman" target="_blank">http://www.openforum.com/idea-hub/topics/managing/article/3-must-have-business-a...</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/small-business/3-must-have-business-agreements" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000004261329Small.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="166" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Hollywood movie mogul Samuel Goldwyn, founder of MGM, once said: &ldquo;A verbal contract isn't worth the paper it's written on.&rdquo; It&rsquo;s a good idea for small business owners to put agreements in writing. Here are three agreements that you should definitely consider getting in writing.</p> <h2>Confidentiality Agreement</h2> <p>Your company many not have a secret formula as valuable as those used by Coca-Cola and KFC, but every company has <i>some</i> information that it does not want to become public. Whether customer lists and pricing information or new products and processes, you have valuable business secrets. To help protect that info, use a confidentiality agreement (also called a nondisclosure agreement).</p> <p>A confidentiality agreement is a contract signed by your employees or any third parties with whom you intend to share confidential information. By signing the agreement, the employee or third party agrees not to share that information. For example, if you&rsquo;re considering a joint venture with another company, you&rsquo;ll likely need to divulge certain information about your business; make sure it remains confidential by having an agreement in place before you discuss it.</p> <p>Find free sample confidentiality agreements at:</p> <ul> <li><a href="http://www.morebusiness.com/templates_worksheets/samples/confidentiality.brc">IPwatchdog.com</a> (agreement for inventors)</li> <li><a href="http://www.morebusiness.com/templates_worksheets/samples/confidentiality.brc">MoreBusiness.com</a> (agreement with third-parties)</li> <li><a href="http://contracts.onecle.com/cubist/confid.shtml">oneCLE</a> (employee agreement)</li> </ul> <h2>Buy-Sell Agreement</h2> <p>If you have co-owners in your business, it&rsquo;s wise to decide what happens to an owner&rsquo;s interest when he or she retires, dies, or just wants out. This can be settled by the terms of a buy-sell agreement.</p> <p>The agreement can be constructed in several ways:</p> <ul> <li><b><i>Cross-purchase agreement</i></b>, in which the remaining owner or owners buy out the interest of the departing owner. This type of agreement works best if there are only two owners in a business; it gets cumbersome when multiple owners are involved.</li> <li><b><i>Redemption agreement</i></b>, in which the company buys back the interest of the departing owner. This type of agreement works best when there are several owners.</li> <li><b><i>Hybrid agreement, </i></b>which can include both a purchase and buyback.</li> </ul> <p>The buy-sell agreement should be made when the company is started, but can be created at any time. Here are some features to include:</p> <ul> <li>The type of buy-sell agreement (e.g., cross-purchase agreement);</li> <li>A list of triggering events, such as retirement, disability, personal bankruptcy, divorce, or death;</li> <li>A mechanism to determine the value of the departing owner&rsquo;s interest. This can be a formula clause in the agreement, a requirement that an appraisal be obtained at the time of the triggering event, or some other method. It&rsquo;s usually not a good idea to set a fixed value in the agreement because it may not reflect changes in value by the time of the triggering event;</li> <li>The funding that will be used to pay for the buyout. Life insurance usually is used for buyouts at death; other funds must be used for buyouts for other triggering events.</li> </ul> <p>Find free sample buy-sell agreements at:</p> <ul> <li><a href="http://www.docstoc.com/docs/201953/LLC-Buy-Sell-Agreement-with-Termination-Provision%5B1%5D">DocStoc</a> (for limited liability companies)</li> <li><a href="http://www.jian.com/software/business-contracts/sample-contract/Buy-Sell.pdf">Jian.com</a> (for corporations)</li> <li><a href="http://www.keypersoninsurance.com/PDF%27s/www.keypersoninsurance.com_sample_buy_sell_agreement.pdf">Meg Financial</a> (for corporations)</li> </ul> <h2>Independent Contractor Agreement</h2> <p>Many businesses hire contractors as a way to lower operating costs while still getting things done. The problem is that the IRS and the states will look at how you classify your workers, and if it&rsquo;s determined that your <i>contractors</i> are really <i>employees</i>, you are liable for payroll taxes, employee benefits, workers compensation, and unemployment coverage for them, too.</p> <p>Worker classification is primarily based on the degree of control you exercise over the workers. One factor in determining control is the relationship of the parties. If you and the workers agree up front that the relationship involves independent contractors and is <i>not </i>an employer-employee relationship, this helps to avoid reclassification of workers as employees. A good way to show the relationship is with an independent contractor agreement.</p> <p>The agreement should include the following points:</p> <ul> <li>A statement about the relationship of the parties;</li> <li>A statement that the worker acknowledges responsibility for taxes and insurance;</li> <li>Language bolstering independent contractor status, such as that the worker is required to furnish his/her own tools.</li> </ul> <p>While the agreement is not binding on the IRS, it can help demonstrate worker classification if the IRS has questions.</p> <p>Find free sample independent contractor agreements at:</p> <ul> <li><a href="http://www.docstoc.com/docs/272153/Free-Business-Documents---Independent-Contractor-Contract">DocStoc.com</a><u> </u></li> <li><a href="http://smallbusiness.findlaw.com/business-forms-contracts/business-forms-contracts-a-to-z/form1-36.html">FindLaw</a></li> <li><a href="http://www.lectlaw.com/forms/f050.htm">LectLaw.com</a></li> </ul> <h2>Bottom Line</h2> <p>While sample agreements may be useful in getting ideas for your situation, it is highly advisable to have any agreement you prepare reviewed by your attorney. Your attorney can tailor your agreement to your company&rsquo;s specific needs and make sure it complies with the laws in your state.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/barbara-weltman">Barbara Weltman</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/3-must-have-business-agreements">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/250-tips-for-small-business-owners">250+ Tips for Small Business Owners</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/business-succession-planning-part-2-how-life-insurance-will-insure-the-life-of-your-business">Business Succession Planning Part 2: How Life Insurance will insure the Life of Your Business</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-inspiring-stories-of-normal-people-building-a-thriving-online-store">4 Inspiring Stories of Normal People Building a Thriving Online Store</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-credit-cards-for-small-businesses">The 5 Best Credit Cards for Small Businesses</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/this-is-the-one-skill-you-need-if-you-want-to-work-for-yourself">This Is the One Skill You Need If You Want to Work for Yourself</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Entrepreneurship Small Business Resource Center buy-sell agreement confidentiality agreement contracts independent contractors non-disclosure small business Thu, 10 Mar 2011 22:19:13 +0000 Barbara Weltman 495255 at http://www.wisebread.com Buying a New Smartphone Without Extending Your Contract http://www.wisebread.com/buying-a-new-smartphone-without-extending-your-contract <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/buying-a-new-smartphone-without-extending-your-contract" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/new_smartphone.jpg" alt="Smartphone" title="Smartphone" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Buying a new phone is great, especially since&nbsp;most carriers will give you a hefty discount ($199 vs. $529 for retail) in exchange for extending your contract for two years.</p> <p>Why would anyone hesitate to trade two years for a $329 discount? There are lots of reasons:</p> <ul> <li>They hate their service but love their phone (iPhone anyone?)<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>They're waiting for the phone they want to become available on a &quot;better&quot; carrier (Verizon<em>-cough-cough</em>)<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>They don't like being tied down</li> </ul> <p>I was recently forced to go this route because I am on <a href="http://www.thewriterscoin.com/2010/12/22/my-cellphone-plan-better-than-yours/">a sweet plan</a> that is so heavily discounted, I <em>had</em> to pay retail.</p> <p>I upgraded to a newer, better, faster phone without extending my contract and only paid $215. If you include the taxes and activation fees that come with extending your contract for two years, I actually paid less than most people would!</p> <p>Here are four tips I followed to&nbsp;buy a new phone without giving those evil carriers what they want:</p> <h2>Research</h2> <p>It all starts with research. The carriers will tout the newest phones with the latest features, but they aren't necessarily <em>that </em>much better. When a carrier says stuff like &quot;this phone will keep you connected to your friends via Facebook,&quot; you know they're talking crap. Most smartphones can do most tasks, so don't fall for carriers' marketing spin.</p> <p>You have to rely on yourself to know the facts. Read reviews on sites like <a href="http://www.engadget.com/">Engadget</a> and <a href="http://www.gizmodo.com">Gizmodo</a>. See what <em>Consumer Reports</em> has to say. Ask your friends what features they use and like. Ask the people who follow you on Twitter.</p> <p>Just don't walk into a carrier's store and ask the person behind the counter what the best phone is...it isn't in your best interest.</p> <h2>Hold the Phone</h2> <p>After you've done your research and narrowed it down to two or three phones, it's essential that you actually hold them in your hand and test them out.</p> <p>You're trying to answer crucial questions like:</p> <ul> <li>How does it feel in your hand?</li> <li>Do you need a keyboard?</li> <li>How is the screen's responsiveness?</li> <li>How does the interface work for you?</li> <li>Will other people think you're cool if you have this phone?</li> </ul> <p>I went into two different T-Mobile stores a couple of times to play with two different phones: the <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003TXSKNE?ie=UTF8&amp;tag=thwrsco-20&amp;linkCode=xm2&amp;camp=1789&amp;creativeASIN=B003TXSKNE">Samsung Vibrant</a> and the <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0042RUOFI?ie=UTF8&amp;tag=thwrsco-20&amp;linkCode=xm2&amp;camp=1789&amp;creativeASIN=B0042RUOFI">HTC G2</a>. The screen on the Vibrant was amazing, but the G2 had a keyboard. They were two totally different phones with their own pluses and minuses.</p> <p>Reviews help, but the best way to know if a phone works for you is by holding it and testing it.</p> <h2>Buying It: Use Craigslist and eBay</h2> <p>Craigslist and eBay are a great way to&nbsp;find phones that are in great condition at heavy discounts.</p> <p>Ideally you'll find a phone that has been well taken care of. That means you may have to buy a phone that has been out there for a few months already. Nobody said this was going to be a free ride.</p> <p>Also, make sure to ask your local carrier's store if they have any refurbished or returned phones. These are practically new but have to be sold for less because they've been opened and used.</p> <p>I was lucky enough to find a guy online selling a <a href="http://www.google.com/phone/detail/nexus-one">Nexus One</a> for $365 that looked brand new. He had put a screen protector and body glove on it from day one so it was almost like I was buying a new phone at a used price.</p> <h2>Sell Your Old Phone</h2> <p>Selling your old phone will help you offset the price of the phone you just bought. Lots of people sell their old phones on eBay and Craigslist, so making yours stand out is important if you want to get top dollar. Some things you can do to make your listing stand out:</p> <ul> <li>Include any extra chargers, car chargers, docks, or batteries you have</li> <li>Include the original box and manual if you have them</li> <li>Lots of close-up, quality pictures</li> <li><a href="http://www.thewriterscoin.com/2010/11/05/buying-a-new-cellphone-an-obsession/">Upgrade the software on your own</a></li> <li>Use spell-check so you don't come off like a psycho</li> </ul> <p>See what other people are selling the phone for, and if you can make your listing stand out, you might get top dollar to offset the purchase of your new phone.</p> <p>I sold my two-and-a-half-year-old G1 for $150 because I included every accessory I had, took time to craft a good listing, and upgraded it to the latest Android version. That made my phone stand out, and I listed it for a relatively high price.</p> <h2>Enjoy Your New Phone!</h2> <p>Now you have a new(ish) phone and you don't have to commit to another two years with your carrier. So when Verizon finally comes out with the iPhone, you'll be ready to jump ship and enjoy the latest iPhone without being on the worst network, according to <a href="http://blogs.consumerreports.org/electronics/2010/12/consumer-reports-cell-phone-survey-att-worst.html"><em>Consumer Reports</em></a>.</p> <p><em>Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, and I will earn a commission for any purchase made through these links.</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/carlos-portocarrero">Carlos Portocarrero</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/buying-a-new-smartphone-without-extending-your-contract">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-3"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-powerful-smartphones-that-arent-overpriced">4 Powerful Smartphones That Aren&#039;t Overpriced</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/cheap-smartphones-which-ones-are-worth-it">Cheap Smartphones: Which Ones Are Worth It?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-is-the-cell-phone-industry-so-screwed-up">Why Is the Cell Phone Industry So Screwed Up?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/frugal-advice-for-the-gadget-addicted">Frugal Advice for the Gadget Addicted</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-google-wallet-can-save-you-money">5 Ways Google Wallet Can Save You Money</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Shopping Technology cell phones contracts saving on cell phones smartphones Wed, 05 Jan 2011 14:00:11 +0000 Carlos Portocarrero 418132 at http://www.wisebread.com Creating Business Contracts That Won't Get You Sued http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/creating-business-contracts-that-wont-get-you-sued <div class="field field-type-link field-field-url"> <div class="field-label">Link:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="http://www.openforum.com/idea-hub/topics/managing/article/creating-business-contracts-that-wont-get-you-sued-thursday-bram" target="_blank">http://www.openforum.com/idea-hub/topics/managing/article/creating-business-cont...</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/small-business/creating-business-contracts-that-wont-get-you-sued" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000010832806XSmall.jpg" alt="shaking hands" title="shaking hands" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="166" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>For most small business owners, contracts are a necessary evil. You have to have something to protect you, but getting contracts written requires legal expertise and can get expensive. Many small business owners try relying on templates, but even a template can't cover all the contingencies that different companies can face. To make sure your business is truly protected by the contracts you rely on, you need to create contracts that are specific to how your company does business.</p> <h3>The Problem with Templates</h3> <p>When a new business owner is starting out, it is very tempting to just make use of a template or a standardized contract you can purchase online. Jeff Bonds, a lawyer with <a href="http://www.newtonoconnor.com/">Newton, O'Connor, Turner &amp; Ketchum, PC</a>, points out the flaws in that approach: &quot;First, with standardized online contracts, more often times than not, you usually get less than what you paid for in terms of effectiveness and quality.&quot;</p> <p>There are more potential problems than can be listed, but generally, a contract customized to the way you do business will be more effective in ensuring that you won't have a problem down the road. Bonds points out a few of the potential problems: &quot;Generally speaking, courts enforce commitments made in contracts. While a 'standard' downloaded contract may fit one's needs in some respects or have beneficial terms for the business, there may be significant terms which do not fit or that are not beneficial. If those terms are enforced, then the business suffers. Another problem is that a 'standard' downloaded contract may have terms enforceable in one jurisdiction but not enforceable in another. If the beneficial terms of a contract are not enforceable, this can be just as harmful to the business as if harmful terms are enforced. A problem that people do not think about is that the terminology used as well as the applicable law in a jurisdiction can change over time, and therefore a 'standard' downloaded contract written 10 years ago may use language that is no longer commonly used or contain terms that are not allowed due to a change in the law. This can give the impression that your business may not be on top of things or worse, the 'dated' terms may now be unenforceable. While 'standard' downloaded contracts may appear to save a few bucks now, one may pay a lot later to cure the problems caused by one of these clumsy or outdated contracts.&quot;</p> <h3>Getting Your Contract in Order</h3> <p>Lawyers specializing in business matters can draft a contract that you can use regularly. Bonds says, &quot;The 'right lawyer' is the one who is excellent in a given area of the law, who the owner/manager communicates easily with, and who can be trusted. With this in mind, every business owner/manager should develop a relationship with a business attorney who can give the owner/manager recommendations with regard to purchasing legal services. Before using a particular attorney or firm, a person should ask others about the reputation of the attorney or the firm. Also, the attorney that you choose to help you should be one that is skilled and experienced in the area of law to which the contract applies. For example, if you need an employment contract for a future employee, then you should seek an attorney specializing in employment law, not one specializing in mergers and acquisitions. This brings up the advantage that firms like ours have over solo practitioners in that we have attorneys working together [who] have specialties in different areas. This allows our business clients to know that regardless of the type of contract they need, they will get an attorney experienced in that area that will provide an excellent product.&quot;</p> <p>The particular problems you may need to consider in your industry may make it worthwhile to seek out an attorney who has experience working in your industry in the past. It is also necessary to find someone local to your geographic area &mdash; there can be a variety of differences in laws in different states, making it important to have a local expert. One of the fastest ways to find an attorney can be to ask your network for recommendations. You may need to winnow out some of the suggestions you get, but a professional recommendation can help you narrow down the field much faster than an online search or a phone book might.</p> <h3>A Contract Review</h3> <p>Bonds notes that for any contract beyond your standard, it's worthwhile to have it reviewed by a legal expert. &quot;Unless they have a law degree or years of experience, every small business owner, if they are planning on growing a successful business, should seek help from an attorney with any contract they intend to use. When the business owner cannot afford to have an attorney review every contract, the owner should, at a minimum, obtain a review of those contracts which involve large financial commitments or key relationships.&quot;</p> <p>Down the road, you may find that a client or customer has a problem with your standard contract. Bonds recommends getting a lawyer on board immediately: &quot;The first step is to contact an attorney for help. The attorney may be able to help find a business solution on which both parties to the contract can agree. If not, then the attorney can give the owner/manager an assessment of the situation and guidance through a dispute resolution process. One thing is certain: The problem will not go away on its own. The owner/manager must go through the expensive process to deal with the issue like they would any other obstacle to their business. With this in mind, owners/managers should recognize that they should take active measures before problems arise in order to reduce or eliminate problems in the future. The prevention is ALWAYS cheaper than the cure!&quot;</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/thursday-bram">Thursday Bram</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/creating-business-contracts-that-wont-get-you-sued">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-4"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/250-tips-for-small-business-owners">250+ Tips for Small Business Owners</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-inspiring-stories-of-normal-people-building-a-thriving-online-store">4 Inspiring Stories of Normal People Building a Thriving Online Store</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-credit-cards-for-small-businesses">The 5 Best Credit Cards for Small Businesses</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/this-is-the-one-skill-you-need-if-you-want-to-work-for-yourself">This Is the One Skill You Need If You Want to Work for Yourself</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-things-all-successful-freelancers-do">10 Things All Successful Freelancers Do</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Entrepreneurship Small Business Resource Center business contracts contract law contracts small business Thu, 25 Nov 2010 17:40:50 +0000 Thursday Bram 262391 at http://www.wisebread.com