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One of the best ways to keep your business running smoothly is to have clear contracts with everyone (or other business) into which you enter a relationship.

The contract can be a signed document that we usually think of when we say “contract” or a terms of service or an outline of agreements that you’ve agreed to via email.  The key is that a written contract makes the ride smoother and avoids potential potholes, inclement weather and bridge outtages (to extend the metaphor).

Why? Relationships are how we relate and connect to do business and relationships are living, breathing, dynamic things.  Whether between two people or two businesses, relationship is human.  And so, as challenging as it is exciting.

Things change.  The conditions of business change.  The needs of business owners and clients change.  And misunderstanding happens.  Or simply different understandings happen because what was intended for the relationship by each person involved was a little different and, human as we are, each thought the other thought and intended like she did.

Agreements get that all out in the open.   And you get to see—and really talk about—what is it we’re really agreeing to and how are we going to work together?

The act of creating the contract is, in my experience, more important than the actual contract.

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A contract that really works is a dialogue It’s one in which both people entering the contract have raised their interests and concerns and said, this is what will work for me, AND, how will that work for you?

It creates clarity, which creates space for comfort and ease. You can proceed into the relationship with the same understanding of This is How This Works.  And, you can refer back to your understanding at points of confusion or tension along the road.

I recommend written contracts—whether formal documents or exchanged email confirmations—for all your business relationships.   You can do it in a way that’s open-hearted and consistent with the voice and approach of your business.   (I help clients approach contracts like this everyday).

How do you know which relationships and which contracts you need?  Take a read here.