10 Ways to Create a Simple and Effective Client Contract

A good client contract doesn’t have to be complicated. Here’s how to create and enforce agreements with your clients—and protect your business in the process.

If you work with clients, chances are, you’re at least somewhat familiar with client contracts. But just because you know what a client contract is doesn’t mean you always use them. Or, when you do use them, that you’re creating a written agreement that protects you and your business.

And it makes sense! With all the legal fine print, client contracts can be intimidating.

But they don’t have to be. At its core, a client contract isn’t meant to create traps with confusing legal jargon. It’s supposed to outline essential details like project scope, deliverables, payment, timeline and other contingencies—and to protect your business if one of those details goes awry.

But how, exactly, do you do that? How do you create a contract that gets you and your client on the same page? And if your client violates the agreement, how do you enforce the contract terms—and make sure you’re protecting your business?

Why Are Client Contracts Important?

First things first: Before we jump into how to create (and enforce!) a client contract, let’s start with why client contracts are so important.

Client contracts are a must for your business for a few different reasons, including:

They get you and your client on the same page: Before you start working with a client, you want to ensure you both have the same expectations around the relationship and/or project They clearly state the key details of your working relationship: Client contracts help iron out the nitty-gritty details of the engagement (like when the client needs to pay you and when you need to turn in key project deliverables), which creates a legal road map for how the project will unfold They protect your business: Written contracts are legally binding documents—so, if your client doesn’t abide by the contract terms, you can take legal action (and vice versa) How Do You Write a Client Contract?

Here’s a look at the basic steps you’ll need to take to create a simple and effective client contract:

1. Include Contact Information of Both Parties

For a written contract to be legally binding, it has to clearly state who is legally bound by the agreement—or, in other words, you’ll need contact information for all parties involved.

Every contract should include the legal business name, main contact, physical address, billing address, and contact details for both the client and the contractor/business owner. Make sure to use your legal business name. For example, if you incorporated or formed a limited liability company (LLC), be sure to use the exact name that’s on this paperwork.

Continue to use both your and your client’s names throughout the contract. Leaving generic terms like “client,” “third-party” or “service provider” in the agreement will make it sound significantly more impersonal—which isn’t a legal issue, but could put off some clients.

2. Specify Project Terms and Scope

As mentioned, contracts are all about outlining the nitty-gritty details of your agreement. It’s important to be as specific as possible about what you’re being hired to do, how you’re going to do it and what the expectations are on both sides.

For example, let’s say you’re drawing up

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