Are you a fan of one-page business contracts?
If so, you are not alone. I have met quite a few small business owners who proudly tout their one-page agreements as though they have found the Holy Grail of business contracts. Unfortunately that is rarely the case.
One page business contracts are more like Dixie® cups: inexpensive, designed for uncomplicated situations, and if you drop one on the floor, it won’t make too much of a mess. However, if you step on it, the cup crushes underfoot.
For example, there are only just so many “what ifs” that can fit on a single side of an 81⁄2″ x 11″ piece of paper. Therefore, what usually gets left out of the one-pager business contract are the “elephants” — enormous and threatening issues that can cause major problems down the road (e.g. confidentiality and intellectual property violations).
If legal issues arise that are not covered by your business contract, it’s like an elephant stepping on a Dixie® cup. You and your company get flattened.
Here’s a look at some of the “elephants” that are often omitted from one-page business agreements and why they may be significant to your small business:
Are you sharing your company’s confidential information with someone else? For example, imagine that you are working with a business strategist to help develop a business idea and then the strategist turns around and uses it with a better-capitalized colleague. How would you like it if they swiped it? Or used it for their own ends?
2. Intellectual property
a. Copying: What are the specific uses that you are permitting for the creative work you provide? For example, you can limit the usage of your work to specific people instead of per say, an entire company. Consider this: will you permit copying of your work? Or taping of a strategic presentation?
b. Other uses: In the course of your work, you may be generating ideas or deigns for a client. What happens with the ideas that the client does not choose? Have you made sure to retain them for your use with other clients?