Every job you take on once you’ve launched your consulting career, should be covered by a contract. Whether it’s a simple letter of agreement or a more formal and comprehensive document, a consulting contract is essential to protect you and your customer and to prevent misunderstandings from jeopardising your business relationship.
The Essentials of a Consulting Contract
In future posts, I’ll discuss contracts and their importance in more detail. However, today I thought I’d focus on the essential points that should always be included in the consulting contract between you and your customer.
Firstly, every contract must include details of what you are offering, the action to be taken by the customer to confirm acceptance, and the total amount to be paid for the service under offer.
The other essential inclusions in a consulting contract are as follows:
- Full names and titles of the people responsible for working with you on the customer side.
- Description of the project, defined in detail and specifying every task to be completed.
- Detailed list of all the steps for which you will be responsible, to help prevent scope creep.
- Schedule of fees and structure for payment.
- List of clearly defined project objectives along with milestones, so you can track progress and know exactly when you have completed the project.
- Project timeline, which should include the start and end dates, payment dates and any specified dates by which interim milestones should be completed and signed off.
In addition to these essentials, you may also wish to include other sections in your consulting contract.
Other Consulting-contract Inclusions
Extra sections in your consulting contracts might comprise a list of legal terms and definitions, procedural steps for non-payment or disputes, and perhaps a nonperformance clause.
While these inclusions will certainly make a contract more complicated and lengthy, they can be extremely useful for more extensive and complex projects.
Finally, while you don’t necessarily need to have a lawyer or paralegal to draft your contracts, you should at least have a legal professional give them the once-over before you present the documents to your customers, just to ensure you don’t shoot yourself unwittingly in the foot.
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