If you work for yourself and you have multiple clients, then you are a freelancer. It’s a great feeling being the boss in your own business and when you start freelancing you pretty much wing it. You take what work comes your way, you make quick decisions about pricing and the services you offer, and you never think about the day that a client stops taking your calls and won’t pay your invoice.
Are you thinking ‘that won’t happen to me’?
Unfortunately, it could very well happen.
The joy of running your own gig as a freelancer wanes pretty quickly when you find yourself in this position. You are working long hours on client demands rather than to your own rules, life balance is starting to become a tipping scale, and you start to wonder whether you have it in you, to keep going.
To help keep your freelancing scales balanced, consider the following reasons why a contract is so important to keeping yourself, your business and your clients in check.
Know Who You Are Working With
A contract requires that your clients business is properly identified. Ensuring you capture their registered business name, their ABN and address will help you to identify that you are invoicing and being paid by the correct entity.
Identify the Project Deliverables and Avoid Scope Creep
You know what you are doing for the client BUT do they know exactly what they have engaged you for? A big problem with freelancing is that there is a danger that if the scope of work is not spelled out you will find yourself being asked to do way more than you are getting paid for. Spell out the project deliverables within your contract as a point of reference for yourself and your client should any deliverable questions arise.
A Contract Allows You To Be Clear About Your Fees
You get to state your fees and how you want to be paid in clear and certain terms so that there is no misunderstanding about what you expect to get paid. You don’t want to lose a zero or two off your invoice because things were lost in translation. Plus it’s very cool to see your worth written down on a professionally prepared document!
- You Have More Control When You Offer Your Own Contract
It beats having to negotiate or ask for your own terms to be included in someone else’s contract. You set the tone, you set the standard. Of course you can agree to make changes or vary your terms and conditions at your client’s request, however, this is your choice. After all, to work on your own terms is one of the reasons why you became a freelancer in the first place right?
- A Contract Allows You To Have A Kill Clause When a Relationship is Just Not Working Out
I call this an Exit with Grace Clause because the contract explains (in a nice way) when you have the right to pull the plug on a client who just isn’t coming to the party with their side of the bargain. It’s not something you might want to think about right now, but if you can forward think a situation where you start to dread your client emailing you, or working on their project, this is a great fall back so the situation doesn’t become too stressful.
- Include Your Client Work in Your Professional Portfolio Within Your Contract
Your contract can allow you to include copies of amazing work you have created for your client for inclusion in your portfolio. A great way to build the relationship for both parties by collaboratively marketing your businesses. You deserve to show the world your work!
- Your Contract Can Outline Your Working Hours and Availability
Keep your weekends free or any other time free by making your availability clear in your contract. This will minimise those unwanted calls late at night or on the weekends. Save the unwanted conversation about fair working hours and state it in your contact.
- Everyone Needs a Best Friend in Business, Your Contract is Yours
It educates your client about what you do, how you work, it ensures you get paid and gives you somewhere to start when you have to negotiate with difficult clients.
Your contract will set the tone for your business relationship by providing clarity. If you identify the nuts and bolts early in your relationship, it will definitely help you to keep those freelancing scales balanced in your beautiful business.
If you would like to have a FREE 20-minute chat about your contracts and clients, you are welcome to book an appointment. And, if you need a solid client agreement to send to your clients, I can draft one for you. Get in touch to request a customised agreement.
Lawyer, Contract Specialist, Speaker & Advocate for Women in Business.
Drawing on more than 15 years’ experience as a lawyer and a woman in business, Shalini Nandan-Singh helps Australian service-based entrepreneurs protect their businesses and their bottom lines with empowered legal advice and contracts.
Encouraging listeners to #loveyourlegals, Shalini firmly believes that business legals should be an authentic extension of your business. Her goal is to educate audiences that, rather than confusing legalese, business legals should be an authentic extension of your business, creating positive business boundaries that support you in working with your clients with compassion and understanding.
Disclaimer: This blog is written to support business owners to consider legal requirements and issues that may arise in business. The information provided is for general and educational purposes only. It is not intended as legal advice for your individual circumstances. Please consult your lawyer for advice specific to you and your business.