The Why behind having a Contract
Christina Scalera is a creative, an attorney, and owner and founder of The Contract Shop. She makes her living making sure creative entrepreneurs have their business legally covered, and has developed tons of contract templates to make the legal side of running a creative business easy and stress-free. Now she’s giving us all the details on why having a contract is so important for both you and your clients, and answering some of your other legal-related questions.
HOW DID SHE GET HERE?
After graduating from law school and deciding she needed a change, Christina decided to give private yoga instruction a try. She spent 6 months promoting her business and struggling to find clients, until she eventually got an inquiry. Two weeks later she sent them a beautifully decorated and carefully curated contract, only to find that her potential clients had moved on. It was then that she realized that if she, a law school graduate, had trouble with this aspect of business, there had to be others struggling too. So The Contract Shop was created, and continues to fill the need that every business owner eventually has: making sending a client a contract a quick and pain-free process.
WHY IS IT SO IMPORTANT TO HAVE A CONTRACT AND WHY SHOULD WE AVOID GRABBING A FREE ONE ONLINE?
You contract is the (or at least one of the) first documents your clients get to see from you, and it’s what cements your working relationship with someone. It’s the document that details what’s expected of both parties, how you’ll work together, and the scope of work that you’ve agreed on.
"Your contract is the foundation for your client experience. It’s going to set the tone."
It’s important that your contract be something that both you and your client actually understand. If neither of you understand the language of the contract, how do you know that it’s even legal? Contracts are the #1 way to build trust with your client, and establish good communication with them right from the start.
WHAT IS YOUR ADVICE IF A BUSINESS OWNER IS HAVING TROUBLE GETTING A POTENTIAL CLIENT TO SIGN THEIR CONTRACT?
Find out what their pain point is. Why are they hesitant to sign the contract? While you may send contracts all the time, this is probably one of few times that your client will have to deal with a legal document, especially one that isn’t unfavorable. Let them know that you’re there for them to talk to and that they can trust you to listen to their concerns. You’ll more than likely solve the problem by having a conversation and not putting pressure on them.
HERE ARE A FEW LEGAL MYTHS. ARE THEY TRUE OR CAN YOU DEBUNK THEM?
Do you have to get your contract directly from an attorney? No. The reason attorneys exist is to handle legal matters on your behalf, but you’re always allowed to act on your own behalf.
Is it true that contract verbiage has to be complicated? Absolutely not. Again, you and the client should both be able to easily understand the contract. You should never be confused or be concerned that one provision could potentially cancel out another.
Is it true that if one person signs my contract, no one else can officially be my client (for example, if a Mother of the Bride signs, then the Bride and Groom aren’t my clients)? You have a legally binding contract with whoever signed your contract. However, if someone else is paying and you’re aware that they’re doing so, you technically have a legal agreement with them too, but without any terms and conditions attached. In the end, whoever is signing your contract is your client, and should also be the one footing the bill.
Ready get the legal side of your biz in order? Head over to The Contract Shop and browse their templates. To keep up with Christina, follow her over on Instagram.
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