Why you should get a contract before you start the work

By theconsultant. Published on Tuesday July 12, 2022

It’s very easy to get scammed if you don’t have a contract or there is no written agreement between both parties. There are reported incidences of ideas that have been stolen and work that has gone unpaid. As a consultant, when you begin, you might take in clients without any form of written agreement that stipulates what needs to be done, by when and how much you will get paid. You may think that this is easy money so you end up not getting a contract. But do you know it’s very easy to lose it all just because of choosing to not go through the process of having a written agreement? How? You ask.

You’ll end up wasting time if you don’t

You get a client who has consulted you to do some work. You agree over the phone, email, or even face to face. Without even blinking, you are already sharing your ideas and even starting on the work. You send the client the samples and he sends you the recommendations. You finish everything. Then, you get the silent treatment. No communication. Nothing. Not even a text message response. It’s as if you were in a dream. But reality hits you when you look at the number of hours you put into it, yet communication is a one way street with no traffic after you have completed the work. All you get is time wasted and you don’t know if your work was excellent, good, bad or terrible.

Your work might be used or stolen if ownership of work has not been written down

This is very common and if you are not careful there is no way you can even defend yourself without a written agreement. You might spend so much of your time and money developing the work then see it later as someone else’s idea. What will you do when even the emails or text messages you had are only on your side and deleted on the other side? How will you proof that this was your work? By law, this may be considered a copyright infringement, but you might not get what is meant for you if there was no proof – no written agreement.

You might not get paid if it wasn’t agreed upon formally

Or you will paid centuries from now. There is no written agreement of when and how the payment will be done and after how long. Remember when we discussed how you can fast track an invoice payment? There is no invoice to be followed when there is no written agreement. Unless you are offering a service to which you would have sent a quotation to begin with.

As a consultant, unless you want to be a charity, it’s important that you agree with your client what is being done, how long the work will take and how much you will get from it in a written format. Signed and stamped if possible.

In another article we will look at what you need to know about contracts.