When two companies put a deal together, it’s usually the bigger, more established company that puts the contract on the table. That’s because they know from experience that if they take the time to write it up, they can write it in their favour.
There Are Two Perspectives To Every Contract
Any clause in a contract can be written to the benefit of one company or the other. Usually it’s the buyer vs the seller. And every clause that doesn’t favour you is not necessarily bad. There are a lot of standard clauses you see in different contracts that are sort of like your promise of quality or service to the other party. They’re selling features.
Getting Comfortable With Contracts
A contract is no substitute for doing business with good people, but contracts are a way of life in business. Even if you have a lawyer or a whole legal team, take the time to get familiar with how contracts are put together, what makes a good one, and what makes a bad one.
A couple things you can do:
- Take some law courses so you can understand the basic fundamentals of contract law
- Search the internet and find examples of the kind of contracts you need to deal with. Grab 6 or 8 examples and study the different clauses. Which clauses are in every example? Which clauses grant added protection that’s important for you? Which ones are just silly?
The more familiar you are with different kinds of contracts and the clauses in them, the less intimidated by them you’ll be. Plus, you’ll have some ammunition on you to better negotiate the conditions of the deal.
Next thing you know, you’ll be the one writing the contracts. In your favour.
The Benefits Of Writing Your Own Contracts
A lot of small to medium sized businesses write up contracts and agreements in-house. There are some good advantages for doing this:
- You know your business better than anyone else. If you’re up to speed, you know what needs to be in the contract more than an outside person does. Especially if you’ve participated in many similar deals before.
- It’s often cheaper than getting a lawyer.
Once you start researching, writing, and building a collection of contracts that are tailored to your business, you can use many of them over and over with minor tweaking to suit the particular deal you’re working on.
Of course, if the deal is big or complicated, if you’re venturing into unfamiliar territory, or if you’re just overwhelmed by the whole process … get a lawyer. And get a good one.