The Pitfalls of Paperwork
Paperwork – undoubtedly the most boring part of any sale; but as with most boring things they are a necessary evil that protect your investment.
A simple analogy to make is likening the purchase of a house with a business transaction. Would you consider buying a house – which is probably the most expensive item you will ever purchase – without the contracts being in order? Of course not. These same levels of consideration must also be applied in any business transaction.
The most important word in the above paragraph is ‘protect’. Contracts should be put in place to protect your investment - whether this investment is money invested or expertise given - and, as such, the contracts you sign should reflect the level of protection you require to carry out your business.
Contracts should be straightforward and show reasonableness to both parties; however, many small businesses feel forced into signing their client’s terms and conditions in order to supply their services.
A lot of SME businesses feel intimidated by the sheer size of some companies they want to trade with and therefore don’t ask questions. Sometimes clauses in contracts aren’t relevant to either what the small business is supplying, or just plain don’t make sense – yet somehow there is an obligation to sign the contract, no questions asked, for fear of not getting any work.
In these cases, the terms you are given to sign are geared to protect the customer, not the supplier, and can therefore leave the small business liable to claims.
Liabilities, insurance requirements, caps on liabilities hold harmless clauses – the list is endless of potential pitfalls small businesses could agree to by not reading and negotiating the terms. It doesn’t help that each set of T&Cs is different, so unfortunately there is no hard and fast rule on what is and what isn’t acceptable. The one main piece of advice I can give is always read the terms. If you don’t understand them then ask someone who does – and if you don’t agree to the points in the contract, try and discuss it with your client.
It’s sometimes easy to forget that you are ultimately dealing with people, not a faceless corporation and, as such, there is always room for dialogue and negotiation.
Docea Contract Review Services Ltd, with over 20 years’ experience within the back office of a large national recruiter, specialise in reading, understanding, reviewing and negotiating contracts so you don’t have to. Get in touch for further info – email@example.com’