It sounds basic common sense and maybe even ridiculous, but reality shows that often times, Entrepreneurs start working on projects based solely on a verbal agreement.
Especially when just starting out, in the initial stages, when everything is in a flux and you’re rushing to start getting your revenue stream moving, driven by your passion, the need to cover initial investments, the need for free cash and bills to pay, you may be tempted, or even pushed, into working on a project with that new Client who took a liking to your product, service or person, without anything but a verbal agreement.
Although it may seem impolite, politically incorrect, tactless or even nasty, BEFORE you start investing your most precious assets (time & network) insist on having your Client sign a written Agreement. It’s easier than having to bear the Client walking away from the project once you’ve invested a week or month in it, leaving you with nothing but empty hands and an inclination to take up boxing lessons.
Ideally, you should have a few templates handy which will only require filling in the blanks regarding this Client and project. There’s no need to spend precious cash on attorneys writing out documents for you. Contact colleagues who have been in the business for a while, they surely have a few templates they’re willing to share. Alternatively, there are several online sites where you can find templates that will work for most cases or serve as a starting draft that you can adjust to your particular line of business and needs. (Check out http://www.entrepreneur.com/formnet/index.html for a few examples).
Your time, network and knowledge are not only your capital, they are your net worth; insisting on signed written Agreements creates commitment and communicates that you’re both professional and serious.