Contracts Are King

There has been a lot of talk about contracts in my field in the last few months, especially after the F*CK You, Pay Me talk/video. I have used a contract for 100% of my work now for a few years – after getting into a few situations where I did not get paid and had to learn the hard way. Contracts also help with situations where the client wants to add in a number of new features/functions/etc without getting charged extra.

Just like backups – people know they should do it, but generally feel ok if they do not. Time to wake up and get serious about your work. Not sure where to start? Keep reading.

  1. Find a contract right for you/your company. There are contract packs you can buy/download for a price, or even find some on the web (If you have a lawyer – they might have one they put together. If you do not have a lawyer – go directly to the next step below.)
  2. Document everything. Make sure to outline specs, change in specs, deliverables, etc. The more that is documented – the more you haveto work with and say – “that was not specified in the contract”
  3. Find a lawyer you are comfortable with. Make sure you have them review/make changes to/are comfortable with your contracts. If there are any issues – you know they will be comfortable with the terms you have in the contract.
  4. Don’t skimp. Use a reputable lawyer – not the cheapest or someone who is x person’s cousin’s wife (unless they are really serious about you and your work). Make sure your lawyer has an expertise in business law and can/will represent you.
  5. Fight for what you want. If you cannot use one of your own contracts – don’t let the other party bully you with their contract. Make sure you and your lawyer review the contract and make change requests as needed.
  6. Don’t be afraid to walk away. If after contact reviews/changes are not agreed upon – just walk away and be glad you did.

As I always say – it is better to be over-protected then under-protected. If you have concerns about legal fees with contract review – take a moment and research court/law suit legal fees. I am sure you will then begin to realize a little upfront costs will be much more appealing.