Are you a newbie who is just starting your virtual assistance business? You probably realize that you need a written contract for your small business. After all, businesses have contracts. What you might not know is why you need a contract and what to include inside of yours. It can be confusing so let’s take a minute to walk through those questions.
Understanding what your contract can do
Understanding what a thoughtfully conceived and well written contract can do for you business is the first step to becoming a successful, fearless entrepreneur.
Most small business owners think they need a contract to legally protect their business. That’s true. A contract can protect you but it can do better than that. Your contract is a tool that shapes your working relationship so you prevent issues if you write it that way. How stress-free and happy could your business be?
Why you need a contract
The number one answer I get from independent workers like virtual assistants when I ask why do you need a contract is: to legally protect myself.
Fair enough. Hopefully, you won’t be in a lawsuit and have to rely on it. Small claims court is a waste of time and money for small businesses and definitely not a good look for you.
Your contract can do more than be a shield. Your contract is a tool that….Signals your professionalism
- Records the details of your agreement
Explains how you work to clients
Explains how best to communicate together
Shares your payment terms
Sets out your expectations and rules
Sets a collaborative tone
Explains your dispute resolution process
Builds trust and understanding
Connects you emotionally with clients to increase satisfaction
Reminds everyone of their individual and mutual responsibilities
Explores who you are as a businessperson
How a contract makes your life less stressful
Your contract is your tool so you can use it to accomplish what’s important to you in your business.
For instance, say you’re someone who loves to help out. So much so, you have trouble saying no to last minute client requests and additions because it’s really no trouble or you were doing it anyway so it feels wrong to charge extra now. You want to set a boundary but you can’t see yourself actually saying something.
Bingo! Your contract can do it for you. Write into your new agreement your new expectation about extra work. I like to exchange the word expectation for rule because most people don’t want to disappoint our expectations of them. Then, during your onboarding conversation, where you explain how you do your best work and what your client can do to help, you simply point it out.
Your contract is like the Leatherman of business tools but it doesn’t take the place of sitting down for a meaningful chat before work begins. I’d love to hear what you think about writing your own contract-would you do it?- in the comments.
Do you listen to audiobooks? I’m a huge Audible fan. Right about now the announcer comes on and says, We’ve broken this blog post into parts. You’ve come to the end of a part but not the post. Please come back for the next post, What’s In Your Contract.