It has been a while since I have had anything to say. However, the Universal Expressions Arts Festival 2014 has officially come to an end and that means that this producer can now return to regular business. On that note, here is some information I am eager to share with you based on some of the bad business experiences I had this year.
Let us be frank here. You don't always, especially if you are a start up, have the upper hand in business. At this point you are mostly trying to make ends meet so you can get to the next stage and you more often than not need HELP. In my case, I spend a lot of time trying to get people to see the bigger picture. There is definitely no immediate large profit margin involved in what I am doing and at this stage, in kind support and IOU's are unavoidable.
When you are in this kind of situation the last things you need are surprises and uncertainty so here are a five tips I will share with you based on my experiences so far.
1) Never allow anyone to tell you "give me what you can at the end of the job".
So he or she is your friend right? I totally get that. However, the last thing you need is someone turning up at the end of your project demanding more than you have to give because it was never determined up front what they were supposed to be paid. Always make sure it is specifically outlined what it is you are receiving and how much you are to pay for it.
2) Set specific dates and timelines.
The money is to be received by when? The goods or services are to be delivered at what date? At what time and for what duration of time? I am sure you would never like to have the experience of your stage manager (who should know better) arriving at your venue at 6:45pm for a show that is scheduled to start at 7pm.
3) Make allowances for the fact that things can go wrong.
Shit happens! People get sick, accidents happen and natural disasters occur. In any event, you don't want to be giving the other party the impression that you are placing them in a situation with no alternatives. It should be explicitly written that you are willing to discuss or negotiate changes when necessary. There is no harm in giving individuals or businesses the opportunity to rectify breaches of the contract in a timely manner.
4) Have a termination clause.
This follows from point number three above. Do not bind yourself to something indefinitely. Make sure to state exactly when, how and why the agreement would be terminated if the need arises. You certainly don't want to be held at ransom but you also don't want the other party to feel as though they are being railroaded.
5) Don't forget to get that signature
Making all those plans to secure the interest of yourself and the other party and not having a signature affixed is like putting your valuables in a safe and leaving the door unlocked. You are asking for a dispute.
Contracts and business agreements can get very complicated and when that happens you know it is usually time for a lawyer. Depending on your business the contract itself might vary. You may need to consider the inclusion of warranties, third party beneficiaries and alternative dispute mechanisms. However, there is nothing wrong with keeping it simple and there are now tons of templates you can get online that are actually pretty good. As with everything else, the important thing is to do research and become familiar with the business practices and types of contracts used in your field.
I start with the three C's and build from there. Make sure at all times there is Certainty of subject matter, Certainty of consideration and Certainty of duration. There is no better place to start.
Want to know more?
Just remember to do your research and keep reading.