So, you created the beautiful proposal, absolutely nailed the discovery call, and landed the perfect client (YES!) - but there is one important step to complete before you start putting in the hours:
Yes, the often dreaded contract. Dreaded for reasons like:
You don’t understand its purpose
You don’t really know what to include - and what not to include
It’s really just an extra task that you don’t feel like doing
Well, I’m here to tell you why a contract is important, why it’s a necessary (albeit boring) task, and everything you NEED to be including from here on out.
Your contract is a means of protection for both you and your client. Therefore, both of you should want to have a solid one in place. The key here is that it is a mutually beneficial document, which is often overlooked.
Here’s an example from a VA’s perspective:
Sally has a client who is consistently late on payments. She sends reminders every month, but since she doesn’t have a contract in place with a specified payment date and late fees, there’s nothing she can really do about it (legally).
Here’s an example from a client’s perspective:
Jennifer owns an online business that sells nutrition guides and workout plans. She recently hired a VA named Sally to help her stay on top of social media. Sally reaches out for payment every month on the 1st - but Jennifer doesn’t run payroll until the 15th.
So, in this example there is a clear miscommunication that would have been completely avoided had there been a proper contract in place from the start!
Key Items To Include
Payment Terms: Do you require a monthly retainer? Or do you get paid by the hour? When do you want to get paid and how often? What happens if you go over the hours you both agreed on? These are all questions that need to be answered in your contract so that you are not consistently spending time chasing down payments each month. This should also be where you give the information on the method the client will use to pay you, (Paypal, Transferwise, etc.).
2. Duration: This is super important because you want to always be aware of the duration of the project so that you can plan ahead and protect yourself financially! Make sure you are very clear about start and finish dates and whether or not there is a trial period as well.
3. Termination: Sometimes the client-contractor relationship just isn’t working out! If this happens, you want to have a Termination Agreement in your contract to be able to follow. In this provision you should be sure to include things like:
That both parties have the ability to terminate
The notice period
How payment will be handled in this situation
4. Confidentiality: This part of your contract is absolutely vital. It will provide peace of mind to both you and your client that any given information will be safe and secure in your hands so that you can work alongside each other without any trust issues!
5. Description of Services/Deliverables: You want to be clear to describe the scope of the project in your contract because it is far too common for client’s to try to get more from you than what you originally agreed upon. If you don’t have this in your contract it can be difficult or uncomfortable to communicate that any additional tasks are going to require additional payment.
Having a proper VA contract in place is both important AND easy so there is no reason to avoid it any longer. Just think of client and contract going hand-in-hand.
You shouldn’t have one without the other - it just doesn’t make sense!