Why Small Businesses Need Agreements in Writing
Small businesses often capitalize on their less formal, more personal, approach to their customers and clients. While there is nothing wrong with this approach in general, it should not extend to business agreements and legal matters. On the contrary, a small business should insist on reducing all agreements to writing just like their larger counterparts do.
Regardless of what type of small business you own, chances are your customers or clients are drawn to the fact that you are able to provide more personalized attention without the need for them follow inflexible procedures or goes through three different people before they can speak to someone who can help them. The informality of your business, however, should stop there.
Unfortunately, disputes occur in all businesses. Whether it is a dispute with a supplier, an advertiser, a customer, or a landlord, it can-and most likely will-happen at some point in time. When a dispute arises, documentation is the key to settling the dispute. If your dispute ends up in court the law always favors a written agreement over a verbal agreement. Having the agreement in writing to begin with, however, creates an excellent chance that you will be able to resolve the dispute outside of the courtroom.
Many disputes are the result of honest misunderstandings. A smaller percentage of disputes are the result of unscrupulous individuals trying to take advantage of new, potentially naïve, small business owners. Either way, having a written agreement that clearly outlines the terms and conditions of your business with an individual or company ensures that you are prepared to defend yourself should a dispute arise for any reason.
As a small business owner you are likely working with a very tight budget and are therefore hesitant to spend money on legal fees charged to draft agreements. While this is certainly understandable, you should look at written agreements as a type of insurance. A relatively small outlay of funds now will protect you from a much greater expense down the road. If a dispute arises and you have no written agreement to back up your position there is a much higher probability that the dispute will turn into a lawsuit. A lawsuit, in turn, will require you to hire an attorney. Your attorney fees to defend a lawsuit will be substantially higher than they would have been to draft a written agreement that could have prevented the lawsuit.
You have undoubtedly worked hard to get your business off the ground. By insisting on written agreements in all of your transactions you are helping to protect your investment and ensuring the future success of your business.