Avoiding Contractual Chaos

What time is it? Get your hours right. Rule numero uno: allocate all time and think about any timesuck issues that may come up. When you are putting together something as a contractor or non-contractor allocate for the following: meetings, hours for your team and travel. You need to do this otherwise you will eat hours, basically work for free and in turn make you a cranky and bitter human being. Now, I do not mind volunteering when I have the time and on my own accord. Not for the timesuck that has no concept how valuable someone’s time is and then demand weekly meetings, etc., etc., etc. The important thing here is to be vocal, ask up front about expectations, and the easiest thing to do at the bottom of your contract is list travel expenses not included but you need to figure out the time for travel all of the same. Last, don’t crank out a contract because “someone” is putting you on a deadline (after all – for my fellow entrepreneurs this is your company right?) and if you have a business partner/assistant/or a fabulous Project Manager that tells you that you can’t add please get a second set of eyes on it.

What’s Your Budget? In contrast to a popular argument there is nothing wrong with this question whatsoever.  If someone has no interest in retaining your services and are simply scheduling a coffee meeting so they can do the Vulcan Mind “Melt” (Dad – this comment is a test to see if you are reading) and pick your brain to get free marketing advice or request a copy of your media contact list after you have driven downtown to meet with this particular individual; and usually such a conversation could have been had over the phone and did not require a meeting in the first place … my run-on sentence point – have the million-dollar question first and do it tactfully. Now, I know I do not have social inept people on my mailing list; however, I do need to point out “what’s your budget?” should not be the first sentence out of your mouth. Please take care to build the conversation, talk about goals, expectations, and how you can help before the “B” word.

Billing = Blech.  Now, I know this isn’t my favorite subject in the world but you need to be vocal about how you bill, how you accept payment and put it in the contract. For those of you who do not want to read the fine print (now – most people don’t – it is boring) do not expect your clients to and you need to verbally tell them you accept net 15, net 30 or whatever your company does. Last, another great trick is to put the due date on your invoices right under the billable hours – blatant. Anyway, I just bored myself talking about billing so I am done. My point is to keep communication open and clear to avoid heartache later.

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