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As a small business, you will face several competing demands. For example, you may be prioritising delivering your customer requests and paying your staff. Sometimes, a small business will overlook the requirement for legal documents. However, a business contract should be a top priority, even if your business is a start-up or small. This article will explore why small business suppliers should invest in a business contract and the benefits of doing so.
Why is a Business Contract Important For a Small Business?
A business contract must be a priority for all small and large businesses. It is a crucial document for business protection and could help your business in several challenging circumstances. For example, it could help limit the amount of damages you have to pay to a customer if you breach your agreement with them and cause them loss. A contract can also help demonstrate clear evidence to help you enforce your legal rights.
As a small business owner, you may feel a business contract is a luxury expense or too complicated. For example, as a small business owner, you may prefer to invest your time and money into other more pressing projects. However, prevention is always better than cure. Investing in a business contract will likely reduce customer problems and save money in the long run.
Which Type of Contract is Appropriate For a Small Business?
The type of contract your business should put in place will depend on various factors, such as:
- the types of products or services you offer;
- your customer base;
- the length of your projects; and
- the level of risk involved in your transactions.
There are several different ways to structure a commercial contract. For example, contracts can be both short-form or long and comprehensive. Your business can work with an experienced commercial solicitor for support with preparing a contract. A solicitor can help advise you on the type of contract you need and the most cost-effective way to prepare it. For example, a solicitor may recommend a short and simple set of terms and conditions for a small business just starting. Over time, as the business grows and develops, your terms can be expanded upon and updated for further legal protection.
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Why Should My Small Business Invest in a Contract?
Let us explore several key reasons why your small business should invest in a well-drafted contract.
A Contract Will Help Your Small Business Get Paid on Time
As a small business, cash flow is usually a top priority. You need to ensure your invoices are settled on time so you have enough money to run your business. However, customers may struggle to make payments when they fall due, particularly in difficult economic times.
Investing in a contract could help your business obtain payments from customers quickly.
For example, you can:
- include robust payment terms, explaining when payment is due so that customers know when to pay and there is no confusion;
- stipulate terms to protect your small business from risk, such as requiring customers to pay a deposit before you can start work;
- include various rights to protect you if a customer pays late, such as stringent interest provisions that can deter customers from late payments and allow you to recover additional sums from customers if they are late at paying; and
- specify the right to end your contract with the customer if they fail to pay.
Such contractual rights will give you protection and comfort when you are trading as a new or small business, which is more susceptible to risk.
A Contract Can Help Protect Your Small Business from Damaging Risks
As a small business, a legal claim could be catastrophic for you.
Consider the following scenario. You are a service provider holding large volumes of customer data for hundreds of business customers, including sensitive staff details. You suffer a data breach due to your poor data security systems. As a result, several customers bring legal claims against your business for breaching the UK GDPR. If each customer presses a claim for hundreds of thousands of pounds and is successful, this could be catastrophic and lead your business to insolvency. However, having a robust contract can help your business in this scenario. For example, you can include contractual terms strictly limiting your liability to all customers for breaches of data protection laws. This significantly reduces the amount of damages your business would need to pay out.
A Contract May Help Your Small Business Save Costs Later Down the Line
While investing in a business contract comes with a cost, it will likely save your small business far more money in the long run.
By way of example, a well-drafted business contract will help clearly set out each party’s obligations under the agreement. Doing so makes your business far less likely to encounter mismatched customer expectations. This could reduce the chance of misunderstandings and disputes. Without a business contract, you must rely upon an oral customer agreement. An oral agreement is far riskier in practice as it can be challenging to prove what terms you agreed with a customer. An oral agreement also carries the risk that the parties could forget what was agreed initially. This leaves room for arguments over whether you have delivered your products and services as you had agreed to and could give rise to breach of contract claims.
Overall, a business contract can offer significant value and protection for any small business.
A robust business contract should be a significant priority, even if your business is small. A contract is vital for your legal protection and prevents potential risks. Without a business contract, your business could face severe problems, bringing its operations to a standstill. For example, you could face an expensive legal claim from a customer and need to pay damages which could lead your business to suffer.
For a small business with growth plans, reputation is also vital. By having a robust contract, your small business can feel comfortable that you have legal protection when trading with customers and help avoid misunderstandings that could otherwise be damaging.
If your small business needs help with a business contract, contact our experienced contract lawyers as part of our LegalVision membership. For a low monthly fee, you will have unlimited access to lawyers to answer your questions and draft and review your documents. Call us today on 0808 196 8584 or visit our membership page.
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