5 Tips To Keep Your Dream Business From Becoming A Nightmare

Teaching about Contracts - 8 Women Dream
The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

Are you running your dream business? Are you offering your dream service or dream product? There are several ways to fake it ’till you make it, but one thing you can’t fake is: professionalism.

A handshake or verbal agreement just doesn’t cut it any more.

You need a contract.

Over the past year, while implementing all the multiple streams of income for this dream of mine, I’ve had occasion to think a lot about contracts.

It’s not just about covering your assets, it’s about being on the same page.

There are lots of good things that can come from lessons: better habits, better processes, or in the case of certain lessons that I’m dying to hear more about from our Laurie, better technique.

So what have I learned?

Here are 5 tips on the top of my list:

1.Have a professional contract.
Yes, you need a lawyer to help you. There are a ton of boilerplate contracts out there, but your profession, industry, and state probably have an impact on what you should include, or even leave out.

I have a great lawyer, and am willing to share. She doesn’t bite, I promise.

2.Use a contract. Always.
Can you do that little project for your brother’s friend without a contract? NO.

I like the way morebusiness.com puts it:

A business contract states the terms and conditions of any business transaction, including product sales and delivery of services. This helps the parties involved to avoid any type of misunderstanding that may arise in the absence of a written contract.

3. Review it with your clients.
Do you read every line of a contract? Then they won’t either. Make sure they do by reviewing it with them, page by page. You don’t have to hammer in every detail, especially if it’s well written (by a lawyer), but cover the high points: Terms, who owns what at the end, and your cancellation clause.

4. Get a signature.
Real or fax or scanned? We accept all, but depending on your industry, you may want the original signature for your records.

5. Follow-up and communicate.
Now that you have the project, let them know NOW where the project lies. If there are modifications, project time line shifts, or my ultimate favorite “scope creep” when a project explodes past it’s intended size, let them know in writing. Keeping everyone on the same page is vital to a happy and successful conclusion to the project.

Now that I have scared the crap out of you, where do you go for help?

Your industry associations.
There are associations for EVERY industry. My industry happens to have several, with AIGA (American Industry for Graphic Artists) and GAG (Graphics Arts Guild) to turn to for ethical standards and contract law.

Your mentor.
Did someone help you get started? Do you have good business contacts in the community? ASK. They are willing to help, you just have to be willing to ask, “How did you do this?”

Your lawyer.
Like I said, I love mine and am willing to share, so just ask if you need a kind but firm voice on your side. Don’t be afraid to schedule an hour, pay them and pick their brain. They went to school for this stuff so I didn’t have to.

Now repeat after me:  Roses are red, violets are blue, we can have fun in business, and be professional too!

Till next week –

Heather

The following two tabs change content below.
Heather’s dream is to share with the world her success at becoming healthy after age 40. Heather lost over 88 pounds through changing her diet and incorporating exercise into her busy life. She would like to take what she has learned about becoming fit after 40, and using her Metabolic Training Certification to help others struggling with weight issues mid-life. Heather’s post day is Monday.
If you aren't sure how to comment on this story, click here.

Latest posts by Heather Montgomery, Get Fit (see all)

  • An excellent reminder, as always, Heather… As I launch some new ventures for myself I have to remember to do this. Thanks for paving the way for the rest of us love!

    You rock!!!

    xoxo
    Lis

  • Jack

    Surrounding yourself with the right people is the first thing in setting yourself up to succeed and preventing those dream nightmares as you call them. I didn’t understand this until a successful retired entrepreneur began coaching me. When you have someone who has been there and done it they are the ones that point you in the right direction. Not to mention being associated with them will give you a foot up the ladder. He was in rotary and made me join several business groups. Listening to him turned out to be one of the best business decisions I ever made.

    • Heather, the e-commerce builder

      Jack – thanks for sharing!

      I agree, getting out there and joining groups has a huge impact on business growth for me and most people I talk to.

      – Heather

  • Grayce Vahnam

    You are a Very Skilled Blogger, You either have first hand knowledge of what your talking about or you did some great research. Thanks for this wonderful post.

    • Heather, the e-commerce builder

      Grayce – Thanks for the compliment. Lots of first hand experience and the desire to help others avoid my pain!

      Much appreciated – Heather

  • Toni Schram

    Down with misunderstandings, up with contracts! It really does protect both parties.

    I am curious about #5 and our website and how it’s preceding.

    Didn’t know you were a closet poet?

    • Heather, the e-commerce builder

      On it’s way! Have I mentioned how fun this project will be?

  • Remy G

    In some ways I wish I posted on Thursdays and you had Fridays. You steal all my good material! lol just kidding. Learning from mistakes is always a tough lesson. All a contract is is an agreement about what is gonna happen. the word contract sounds so official and makes people feel like “why go thru all that trouble for this little thing. ” Handshakes used to support verbal contracts and we all know now how great those hold up – written agreements puts the focus on IT, not us. Thanks for the reminder to get this email to you! hehe Great post Rem

    • Heather, the e-commerce builder

      Who do you think keeps me on track with my systems? That would be you girl! Thanks for everything – H

  • Catherine, Site Admin

    Contracts? What are those?

    I loved it when Laurie and Toni asked me about contracts for 8 Women Dream . . . ummmmm coming? Is that the right answer?

    Cute post.

    What time did you go to bed?

    Cath

    • Heather, the e-commerce builder

      You know me, sleep is over-rated! And yes – can’t wait to see those 8WD contracts…