Today, we have TSOS Chapel Hill speaker Christina Scalera on the blog sharing more information on contracts! In Chapel Hill she will be teaching two sessions: “Using Your Contract to Improve the Client Experience” + “Is an LLC the right choice for my business?: Business Formation and Set Up.” She’s an attorney for creatives with a heart for providing easy-to-grasp legal information and services for stylists, photographers, and other creatives – no matter their budget or the size of their business!
Legal review is all too often an afterthought because there is no immediate gratification when we get our contract back from an attorney.
When we launch a new website, purchase a new logo or hire a graphic designer, we get to share those immediate results with the world and receive praise, recognition and more eyeballs on our business. But with a well-written contract, there is no Instagram party or hundreds of Facebook likes— in fact the mark of a great contract is that your business continues in an incredibly unremarkable way, undisrupted and peaceful. This is because a great contract accounts for and protects you from the many difficult situations you would otherwise face at some point. These are things like last-minute cancellations, bridezillas, clients who go MIA, clients who loved your work until someone on Facebook commented and now want a refund, clients who book you then decide to go with someone else months later, and so on…
So, the challenge we face as business owners is that our bank accounts are limited and there are so many expenses to pay for. It’s difficult to decide what is a priority, especially when we’re just starting out and the more visible things are much more fun and sexy. In order to help you decide if an attorney review of your contract is appropriate, here’s a resource that gives you an idea of when it’s time to have that done.
You should really get your contract in front of an attorney if…
… you are selling expensive service packages (~$2500+) and you don’t want to lose any little bit of that income if something went wrong
… you are dealing with a high volume of clients per month (10+)
… oftentimes, you’re working with strangers
… you are working or want to work with major retailers or wholesalers
… you’ve already gotten burned at least once
… you are beyond frustrated when someone cancels at the last second, because you had 10 other people want that time spot
… you have a unique business model or concept, like commercial styling for boutiques or you’re a personal paparazzi vacation photographer
… you have a business that has a high risk for a lawsuit, such as one that engages in a franchise business model or run some kind of venue that invites people onto your property
… you are engaging in a very permanent deal, such as an employment agreement, partnership (and here), or large asset/business purchase
I think you’re getting the point- when you’re a legit business and you’re getting some recognition for your work (aka growing) it’s a good idea to get that attorney to review your contract.
As an attorney for creative entrepreneurs, my two main concerns when I review contracts is to make sure my clients are (1) compensated no matter what for the amount of service and/or products they end up providing, and (2) reducing my clients’ liability if something were to go wrong, such as making sure they have the proper waivers and cancellation policies in place.
Some key indicators that you are probably fine waiting a bit to hire an attorney to review your contracts are that…
… you’ve purchased a solid contract template, created by an attorney
… you have an idea for a business, but haven’t actually started selling any services or products yet
… you are still okay working for free (oftentimes, the ‘beta’ time while we refine our skills and test out the market)
… you’re doing a low volume of work, probably as a side hustle
… you say, “Alright! Time for Season 4 of Friends!” when your client cancels at the last second
… you have a pretty straightforward business, like floral design/styling or wedding photography (and thus a contract template is probably all you need anyway)
… your ‘clients’ are actually just friends and family at this point (though you should still have a contract!!)
Whether the time is now or later to grab that attorney review, the good news is that once it’s done, you shouldn’t need it again for many years to come unless your business changes quite a bit at any given time.
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Have you had your contract reviewed? Do you have a contract? Let’s chat in the comments below.
Want to know more about our next workshop? Visit the Chapel Hill page to see a full list of speakers, classes, and more! And don’t forget – there’s still one day left to enter to win a free seat! Check out our Instagram profile for all the details.