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Tips for writing a small business contract

You own a small company, and you've poured all of your time and energy into it. It means everything to you, which is why you're so diligent about writing contracts and taking steps to protect the company whenever you work with individuals or other corporations.

To help make sure that your contract stands up and does what is intended, consider the following tips.

  • Use standard language that makes everything easy to understand. Don't assume you have to dress it up in legal jargon. It's just as valid if it's clear and easy to read, and that also cuts back on the odds that there will be a serious contract dispute in the future.
  • Make sure your agreement is written down. Some small business owners are fond of handshake or verbal contracts. While they can hold up in some cases, they usually make things far more complicated than having a written contract.
  • Talk about payments. Does the other party need to pay everything up front? Do you take installments? If so, do you charge any interest? Exactly what day are those payments expected?
  • Be as detailed as you can. For instance, if a delivery is supposed to be made near the end of the month, don't just write that. Pick a day. Write down that deliveries are due on the 28th of every month, for instance. This makes it clear what is expected so that there's no confusion.
  • Decide exactly how the contract will end. Is there an end date built in? Can either party end it, or do you have to agree?

Details are the key. With any contract, work hard to ensure that you don't leave anything out, and consider all potential legal complications before you sign.

Source: FindLaw, "How to Write a Business Contract," accessed Jan. 24, 2018

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