These Women Entrepreneurs Breakdown Their Contract Strategy for Sealing the Deal

Contract Agreements for Business
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When I came up with the concept for starting this digital platform back in January, I did so sans the intention of making it a business. It’s not that I didn’t take it seriously, but rather I minimized all the time, effort, and money that goes into creating, branding, and promoting a diverse product. I had a history of running blogs twice before and back then the bar) wasn’t set as high as it is now.  

Well, here we are five months post-launch and I’m rethinking and regretting a lot of careless transactions. I won’t get into a *cough* cheap logo *cough* or other dumb purchases I made early on. What I do know now is that I could have avoided a lot of disappointment had I employed a contract strategy.

Before we jump into the strategy, let’s define exactly what that piece of paper represents.

What Is A Contract?

Cornell Law defines a contract “as an agreement between private parties creating mutual obligations enforceable by law. In order for a contract to be legally enforceable, it must have legality, adequate consideration, capacity, and mutual assent expressed by a valid offer and acceptance.”  

Now, that’s just a rough definition. If you think you’ll need a contract for a deal or a  transaction, then I’d highly advise seeking legal counsel to do so.

What I know for sure is that contracts should be fair, written in your best interest and with terms that all parties can agree to. Don’t just sign a contract because it exists. Go through it line by line and be sure the terms are what you can agree to.

Now, let’s meet the experts.

Erica Webb, Dreamcatcher Rose Studios Owner

Erica Webb, 32, Owner/Sole Photographer of Dreamcatcher Rose Studios LLC in Brooklyn, N.Y.

How long have you been in business?

I have been in business since March 2017. I am a belly to baby photographer. I specialize in Maternity, Birth, Fresh48 (Fresh-48 photography focuses on the first 2 days of your baby’s life), and Lifestyle Newborn (documenting those memorable moments after you get home and settled with your new little bundle of joy) photography sessions.

When did you realize contracts would be a critical part of your business?

To be honest, I joined several photography groups on Facebook once I decided to pick up my camera full time. I have come across so many different experiences but the main experiences that have stuck with me are the “horror stories” some photographers have faced due to not having a solid contract, or a contract at all, for any and all photography sessions. Things can get ugly, really fast, (I’m talking bad mouthing businesses, threats/harassment, being sued, etc.) and one thing I have learned, is the importance of having a well-written contract, along with having business insurance in place.

How do you use contracts in your business?

I use contracts for everything. This includes paid sessions, giveaways, and model calls. The client will sign a contract allowing me to use these photos in my portfolio, website, social media, advertisements, and styled shoots. Bottom line, if I pick up my camera to photograph a client, a contract must be signed. Always. There are no exceptions. Contracts are very important and they not only protect myself, my brand, my reputation, and my business, but it is also meant to protect my clients as well.

What’s one piece of insider advice you could give to other entrepreneurs in your industry to protect themselves or their brands?

I’ll do one better. Here are four small pieces of advice. First, RESEARCH EVERYTHING. Once you do that, research again. Google was my best friend in the beginning and has yet to let me down. Secondly, don’t be afraid to reach out and ask questions. I’m telling you, those Facebook groups have helped me in so many ways. Third, invest in contracts! There are many that you can purchase right online, but please don’t stop there. Contact a lawyer, and have them go over your contracts and make sure they follow your state laws. Every state is different, and every state has their own laws regarding photography. Once you have a solid contract, use it! It doesn’t matter if it is for someone you just met or someone you’ve known for over 20 years. Have whoever you work with, sign your contract. Fourth, make sure your business is registered with your state, have business insurance in place, and pay your business taxes each quarter or annually.

Carmicia Booth of CKG Realty

Carmicia Booth, 34, President & Broker-in-Charge of CKG Realty in Raleigh, N.C. 

How long have you been in business and what do you do? 

I have practiced real estate since 2009, and I have owned my own real estate firm since 2012. I negotiate and arrange real estate transactions for buyers, sellers, and investors. I have daily duties that include writing contracts, overseeing transactions for sales of residential properties and land, and I have a team of agents that I train and supervise.

When did you realize contracts would be a critical part of your business? 

As soon as I started real estate school in 2009. I had an awesome instructor who informed us that our real estate documents change often. He often reiterated how imperative it was for real estate professionals to study and understand the language and terms of the contracts we use in real estate.

How do you use contracts in your business?

Contracts are essential in the field of real estate. When parties agree on terms such as sales price, closing cost assistance, repairs, settlement date, and amendments: all agreements must be in writing and signed by all parties involved in order for the agreements to be legally binding. Executed contracts have protected my clients from lawsuits.

What’s one piece of insider advice you could give to other entrepreneurs in your industry to protect themselves or their brands?  

My advice is to protect your client, your business, and your brand by reading documents (addendums, amendments, purchase contracts, repair agreements, and disclosure statements) at least three times before it is executed by all parties. You should never ask your client to sign a contract or amendment that you have not carefully reviewed yourself. As a real estate agent and/or broker, you should be very familiar with the language and terms of your contracts.

Well, there you have it. It doesn’t matter if you operate a lemonade stand from your front porch, if you’re dealing with money, then you need to have some type of written protections in place. 

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