We had already said that every independent professional or freelancer should have a written contract that supports him/her in case of problems with the client.
A written contract, in addition to being a legal agreement, is an important piece of reference for both the professional and the client.
It allows us to define the relationship between professional and client and resolve in advance all the details related to the terms and conditions of the work.
For this reason, before shaking hands with the client and getting to work, it is important to dedicate an hour or two to writing down all the details of the project and signing it with the client.
Define The Scope Of Your Work
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When we start working with a new client it is easy to get excited about all the possible projects derived from that one, especially if the client in question is the first time that they contract these services and begins to realize everything that their company can benefit from.
From my own experience, I know that in those cases, we start talking and the client quickly makes the list of pending jobs grow; Some clients get confused and believe that everything is included in the original quote.
Therefore, in order to execute this first job correctly, it is convenient to define the nature of that job as well as possible.
For that, nothing better than listing all the tasks included in the job. By having this list in writing with the description of each item to be developed, we prevent the client from being confused about the scope of our proposal.
A Contract Sells More Services
A written contract is not just a legal document, it can also be used as a marketing tool.
For example, take the time to review with the client all the terms of the agreement before signing the contract, particularly the part where you define the scope of the project. In some cases, the client will decide to extend the contracted services, now that they are detailed in writing.
Another opportunity presents itself at the end of the contract. If the relationship with the client is going well, we can meet with him shortly before the end of the contract to discuss new opportunities for other projects or to extend the scope of this one.
Identifies Client Expectations And Responsibilities
Beyond the legal terms, a good contract goes further and clearly delimits the responsibilities of each party. What results does the client expect from this project? Does the client clearly understand that meeting deadlines and other development aspects depend on the client providing certain data and/or inputs at the requested times?
This last point, which is not difficult to understand, is one of the aspects that cause more problems and stress in the relationship.
A Practical Example
Suppose you have a graphic design company and you are developing an important brochure for foreign trade.
The brochure must go to print on the day and time established since the printer does not work only for us and has a schedule to comply with.
But it almost always happens that the client takes time lightly, leaves everything to the last minute, does not designate a person in charge to deliver the materials we need in a timely manner, does not advance the money to comply with the suppliers and, ultimately, moment, when the brochure should be in production, he finds some detail that he considers inadmissible and that must be changed, yes or yes, but, of course, he does not agree to postpone the delivery date.
I have had clients who have made me work my ass off only to then leave everything abandoned until the next time the need to have the material “attacked” them.
Work interrupted like this continuously does not pay off financially, every time we resume it we lose a few hours trying to “catch up” with the project.
In addition, with the mere passage of time, it is inevitable that we will want to make other changes even if the client does not request them.
Every project has a reasonable execution time, if we shorten that time too much we run the risk of making serious mistakes and, if we stretch it “like chewing gum”, it becomes blurred and makes us lose profitability.
Clarify The Relationship
When working freelance, a written agreement is a way to prove that you are an independent contractor. This can be very beneficial for the client if he needs to prove to the tax authority that we do not have a dependency relationship with the company.
Also, as a freelancer, you need to state in the contract how and when the work will be done and make it clear that, as an independent contractor, you are the one dictating those terms.
A written contract protects both parties by adequately establishing the expectations of each, the nature of the contracted work, the stipulated times, and the obligations of each party.
In the next note, we will see the points that every independent work contract must have.