Can you feel it? 

There’s nothing quite like the buzz that surrounds year-end biz planning for entrepreneurs.  

Reflecting on the year you just had and getting set up for success next year is a BIG deal (and I, for one, can’t get enough of the energy in the air). 

But in all the goal-setting and financial planning excitement, it’s easy to overlook some of the less sexy aspects of business ownership. 

Like legal. 

One thing I see being overlooked year after year for a lot of business owners is the essential year-end contract check. 

Yes, it’s a thing. 

A thing you really need to do… 

**Quick disclaimer before you read on: 

Everything I share is legal education and information. It’s not business, financial, or legal advice, and it doesn’t create an attorney-client relationship between us.

Please chat with an attorney in your area to make sure you’re protecting your business.**

Regular contract checks need to happen

Businesses grow, change, and evolve over time. 

(And if yours isn’t, you might want to talk with a business coach.) 

As you work with more clients and gain new experiences, you’ll naturally find yourself adding things to your “do this differently next time” list. 

Your contracts need to reflect the changes you note to avoid repeat sticky situations and create the right conditions for dreamy working relationships. 

If you don’t even remember what your contracts and policies say… 

Or you do remember, and you know they aren’t covering enough as-is… 

It’s time to do a contract check.

8 questions for your next year-end contract check

Here are 7 things to consider when you do your next year-end contract check: 

  1. Are there existing contracts you need to terminate, amend, and/or renegotiate?

One of the most important parts of a contract check is looking at what you’ve already put out there and deciding if it’s comprehensive enough for where you are now. 

Go over existing contracts with a critical eye. 

Ask yourself what’s working and, critically – what isn’t – so you can make the smartest changes. 

  1. Are you making changes to your digital products or services next year?

If the answer is yes, I’d bet there are provisions in your Terms of Use for your digital products or Client Agreements that need to be updated to reflect that. 

Consider things like updates/changes to: 

–The digital products and services themselves,

–Pricing for the products or services,

–Refund policies for each

3. Are you adding digital products or services?

If you are, you know you’ll need to get new contracts and T&Cs in place for each.  

And you want to make sure your new contracts include the following (at the very least): 

–Scope of services

–Payment schedule

–Intellectual property protection

–Disclaimers

–Dispute resolution 

  1. Have you started digital advertising or launched any new opt-ins?

Changes in these areas may require you to update your Privacy Policy. 

A protective Privacy Policy lets your clients and customers know: 

–What personal information you’re collecting, 

–What you’re doing with it, 

–And how they can get it back.  

Updating this policy is definitely something you want to be doing annually – at a minimum. 

  1. Are you going to be adding testimonials to your website or marketing materials?

Hopefully, you’ve collected some show-off-worthy social proof this year! And if you have, you’ll understandably want to, well, show it off. 

In which case, it’s time to get your clients/customers to sign Testimonial Releases so you can share without stressing about any legal issues creeping up. 

(Testimonial Releases give you permission as to what parts – and where – you can share those enticing reviews.)  

  1. Are you thinking about collaborating? 

Collaborations are the backbone of strong business relationships (especially in the online service provider industry).

But they can also backfire pretty quickly if you partner with the wrong person – or if something just generally doesn’t work out. 

Getting a solid NDA in place makes sense if you’re considering adding collaborations to your marketing and networking strategy. 

  1. Are you going to be expanding your team?

Bringing on an independent contractor? You’ll want to make sure you have a solid agreement set up first. (And consider an NDA for this, as well.)

Or, if you’re thinking about hiring employees, it may be time to speak with an employment lawyer.

  1. Have you added an affiliate program to your offers? 

Affiliate marketing can be a huge win-win both for you and your brand fans who agree to become affiliates. 

But the whole experience will be much more pleasant – and rewarding – for everyone involved if you set expectations and boundaries with the right affiliate agreement first. 

(PS If you’re interested in exploring an affiliate opportunity with Legal Templates, head here.) 

*Note: this is not an exhaustive list by any means. Use it as a solid starting point.*

Add legal to your list of year-end checks

If you’re still here, I’m guessing that, like me, you’re a planner. 

And I can appreciate that! 

But as important as it is to set – and check – big-picture growth goals, it’s often those overlooked day-to-day systems that will get you there fastest. 

If you do one thing during biz planning season this year, I hope it’s to add an essential year-end contract check to your list. 

And if you find yourself missing too many important elements, I hope you’ll use it as motivation to get your legal ducks in a row, once and for all. 

Protect yourself so you can enjoy hitting all those growth milestones without the stress. 

Cheering you on!

 

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