When you run a business you’ll be dealing with contracts a lot. It’s rare for a small business to have dedicated legal staff or sales teams in its early days so as person in charge you are where the buck stops and it should stop with a contract.
Whether you’re securing your premises, a supply of raw materials and products or the labour and expertise you need to run your business, it’s foolish to trust to this a goodnatured agreement that isn’t formalised by a contract. However well the two parties may know and trust each other, a formal business contract gives both some legal certainty to rely on in the event of any dispute, allowing it be resolved more quickly, cleanly and with luck allowing them to maintain their good will and partnership. A contract dispute has protocols allowing it to be dealt with quickly: a broken friendship is much harder to work through.
It’s important these contracts are robust and cover the agreements you’ve actually made in negotiation. If the other party is responsible for drawing up the contract and it doesn’t cover some specifics you agreed in person, the legal document you’ve signed takes precedence.
The idea solution is to get every document reviewed by a trusted contract lawyer before you sign it. If you can access the services of such a professional, they will be able to advise on you on any ambiguous terms and make sure the document is a correct legal summary of the agreement you’ve negotiated. If it’s not, they can be an authoritative voice to ask for a redrafting to make it agree more closely with your negotiations.
It’s not as hard as it used to be to access contract review services. Many reputable online law firms have appeared in recent years, allowing smaller businesses flexible access to the services they need without needing to pay the hefty costs associated with high street lawyers.
If you can’t find or afford a contract lawyer, one way to check your contracts is to ask someone reliable, but with no prior insight into the deal to read it over. If they can read the contract and summarise a deal that sounds like the one you agreed, with no unpleasant surprises, you can feel more confident about it though.
Creating a good working relationship with a lawyer is by far preferable, however, so priotorise finding one within your budget as soon as you have the resources.