Connect with us

How to Guides

Protect Yourself: How to Structure Your Consulting Contracts

On the importance of contracts to your consulting business and what they should include and why.

Entrepreneur

Published

on

Consulting-contracts

Now that you’ve laid the foundation for your new consulting business, it’s time to think about two important tools you’ll need to be an effective consultant: the consulting contract and the client report.

A contract is a legal document between two or more parties that involves what attorneys call “an exchange of value.” That is, if something of value (money, goods, services) is provided in return for something else (in your case, consulting services), then the agreement is considered to be a contract. And it doesn’t matter if the task or service you’re performing is quick and easy, or complex and time-consuming.

Related: Why Your Business Needs Employment Contracts

You must always protect yourself by creating a contract the client will sign. After all, this is your livelihood at stake, and if something goes wrong, you’ll need solid legal documentation to make sure you get paid.

Contracts protect both the contractor and the client. To make sure there are no misunderstandings, you must be sure every contract you write is clear, specific and detailed enough to cover all the important points or clauses.

Your contracts should be written in plain language, which is clear and easily understood prose. This doesn’t mean, however, that you don’t need an attorney to look over your contracts or help you create a template you can reuse.

In addition to spelling out all the terms of your agreement, a contract can help you avoid what’s often referred to as “project creep,” in which you begin with a specific task that morphs into more work than you agreed to as the project proceeds.

Having a signed contract that details exactly what you’ve agreed to do will help you rein in projects before they take on a life of their own.

Contracts can be very simple one-page documents, or they can be 100 pages long, depending on the subject matter and how many complicated issues they cover and in how much depth.

They also can take the form of a letter of agreement, which is shorter and less formal but is just as binding as a formal contract.

Related: Readying Your Business for Big Contracts

Contract-ideas

Here’s a short list of what should be included in every consulting contract:

  1. Full names and titles of the people with whom you’re doing business. Be sure they’re all spelled correctly.
  2. Project objectives. Making a list will help you achieve the project goals and figure out when the job is done and you can stop. (“Project creep” can go both ways.)
  3. Detailed description of the project. Write a global description that specifies every aspect of the task you’ve been asked to do.
  4. List of responsibilities. Record exactly what you’ll be expected to do or the major steps you’ll take to complete the project. It can be helpful to create a list of checkpoints you can refer to as you work. You might also want to have the client sign off on each phase of the project to ensure his/her satisfaction with the work as it progresses. If so, the sign-off process should be included as an item on your list of responsibilities.
  5. Fees. In addition to mentioning the agreed-on fee, you can include a payment structure.
  6. Timeline. Specify the start and end date of the project, and indicate any pertinent dates in between (including those dates on which you wish to have the client sign off on your work in progress and/or payment dates).
  7. Page numbers. This might sound basic, but the idea is to keep the client – or you, for that matter – from adding pages to the contract that not everyone has agreed upon.

This is not an all-inclusive list. Your attorney may recommend including other information, such as legal definitions, legal recourse in the event of nonpayment, nonperformance clause (as in what will happen if either party reneges on his or her obligations), and so on.

This is just one more reason why it’s a good idea to have your legal eagle draw up your contracts or give the ones you write the once-over before they’re presented to clients.

In addition to the details discussed above, every contract has three key elements that must be present for the contract to be valid:

  • The contract must contain an offer. An offer is simply something proposed by a person or business. For example, an offer for one of John Riddle’s fundraising clients may include language like this: “. . . JR will act on behalf of the XYZ nonprofit organisation as a fundraising consultant to raise the necessary funds required for . . .”
  • Each contract must contain acceptance. Acceptance is when one party accepts the terms offered in the contract. It’s usually a good idea to put a time limit on any contract or letter of agreement you offer a client. For example, you might state that the offer will expire in a set number of days unless it is signed and accepted.
  • Each contract must contain consideration. This is the amount you’ll be paid. For example, the contract language could say something like “. . . in exchange for a monthly payment of R50 000.”

Entrepreneur Magazine is South Africa's top read business publication with the highest readership per month according to AMPS. The title has won seven major publishing excellence awards since it's launch in 2006. Entrepreneur Magazine is the "how-to" handbook for growing companies. Find us on Google+ here.

Advertisement
Comments

Company Posts

Why Choose ISO 90012015 As A Starting Point For Your Business

Implementing all elements of the standard can help your business, but what parts of the ISO 9001:2015 standard in particular should prove to be of most beneficial for yours? We’ve listed a few below.

Published

on

iso-90012015

Ask for any Entrepreneur’s to-do-list, ISO Implementation and certification may not always be at the top of it. Businesses are constantly faced with financial, operational and socio-economic pressures, while business owners must make decisions on projects related to “cost vs the benefits”. But here’s why ISO 9001:2015 is a reasonable investment.

If your businesses is certified under ISO 9001:2008 you had three years to transition to ISO 9001:2015, if you don’t transition, your certification will become redundant. The three‑year period started on the date the new standard was published in September 2015. Don’t wait, your Day 1 of 365 days starts now.

Related: How ISO Certification Can Help You Access Market Tenders

Implementing all elements of the standard can help your business, but what parts of the ISO 9001:2015 standard in particular should prove to be of most beneficial for yours? We’ve listed a few below. It may also protect your business (against big business)

How can ISO 9001 make the difference for my business?

Start by viewing the costs as an investment that allows you to better assure your clients, improve your productivity and raise your ability to compete.

Your certification to the standard, can attract reputational benefits and establish a ticket to levels of business that non-certified companies certainly cannot obtain. This may be the most practical time to implement ISO 9001 for your business.

As the full process can take up to 6 months, you need time to plan and execute your transition to the new standard and it will require work, commitment and changes to the habit of doing things.

This is why it’s vital to begin early and hire consultants with a 100% certification record with any SANAS (South African National Accreditation System) or International Accreditation Body. It gives the guarantee and expertise you need.

iso-process

Your 6 steps to getting ready for ISO 9001:2015

1Establish Processes

  • Documenting and Implementing processes in your business can yield great benefits as your business grows. Setting common processes in the beginning will result in consistency in the products and services, this sets a sound foundation for expansion and future growth.
  • Save time, cost, and ensure delivery. This takes place when you have new employees and point them to processes that are well established and well documented.
  • It allows your staff to feel confident in doing their job, knowing there is a process to follow and with the help of the Document Control Process, you can always re-engineer the process to adapt to change, this results in Continual Improvement.

2Formulate PDCA cycle (Plan-Do-Check-Act)

  • The fundamental basis of the ISO 9001 standard is based on Edward Deming’s PDCA Model. If implemented effectively it can benefit any type of business however large or small you are, it’s practical. The Method is also used by fighter pilots.
  • You build a culture of “careful planning, monitoring, and adjustment of actions” this speaks volumes to your employees, and your clients benefit in return.

3Increase your sales by using ISO 9001

  • By using valuable customer feedback, you build up information to monitor and review your client’s perception of your products and services, this feeds into a corrective action process, which results in a continual improvement to create relationships with existing clients and attracting new clients.
  • Most Tender Requirements from Government, Local and International Companies require ISO 9001 as a qualifier to their procurement process. This gives them the assurance that a Third Party Auditor is auditing an effective Quality Management System aligned to International Standard that has effective process control and will measure client satisfaction.

4Develop an attentive mindset to risk and opportunities

  • Risk and opportunities is the latest introduction to the ISO 9001:2015. This allows businesses to identify potential and current risks in their process and mitigate them before it’s too late, the fundamentals of a successful business.
  • By cultivating a culture where your team have a sharp eye for risk and opportunities will serve your business well.
  • Profits will be maximised while risks are spotted early and can be minimised.

5Take control of change management

  • As the saying goes, “Change is the only constant in the 21st century”. The inability to handle change and adapt accordingly is one of the main reasons that many businesses do not survive through the first two years of existence.

Related: 7 Steps To Achieving Our Higher-Level Goals

6Setting goals and objectives

  • Goals and objectives are key fundamentals of the ISO 9001:2015 standard, these are tools to assist in attaining your companies Vision.
  • When you get into the habit of setting, reviewing, and taking action against objectives, the end results is growth and driving improvement.

It is clear that implementing ISO 9001 can take your business to the next level that benefits startups to established corporates. We stress again the vital importance to begin early and hire consultants with a 100% certification record with any SANAS (South African National Accreditation System) or International Accreditation Body.

Continue Reading

Company Posts

How ISO Certification Can Help You Access Market Tenders

Want to leap-frog your competitors by building your business credibility?

Published

on

ISO Certification

2017 has been a challenging year thus far. A decline in exports, slower growth in private consumption and fixed investment has caused the economy to contract in Q1 and enter into its second technical recession since 2009. This means that it is now more crucial than ever to break away from your competition to survive in this economy.

The question we as businesses are all asking, is how can we become more competitive during these tough times?

The answer is ISO Management systems and certification.  The implementation process allows organisations to streamline their processes and benchmark to international standards that have worked for the likes of Toyota, Coca Cola, MTN SA and many more.

The ISO Certification gives your clients the national and international credibility that they are looking for, in you as a business.

What are ISO Standards?

ISO is not an acronym, it is derived from the Greek word ISOS, which means equal and is interpreted as The International Organization for Standardization, which comprises of various National Standards being superimposed into one International Standard. There are approximately 21500 ISO Standards, from Quality, Health and Safety, Information Security, Environmental, Energy and many more. (The International Organization for Standardization)

The ISO standards set a precedence for companies to create a Management System which comprises of Policies, Objectives, Processes, Risk Assessments and Procedures with the aim of being able to provide a consistent service.

The standards requirements can assist a one-man tuck shop to large corporates such as Google.

Think about it this way, when you buy a house, does your insurance company grant you a policy without an Electrical Certificate of Compliance? Do you buy a brand new laptop, mobile device or any other electrical device without a warranty or guarantee? Will you send your child to a hospital that does not have standards in place? Will you buy vegetables that have not undergone the necessary food safety controls?

We, as consumers, have all become cautious, hence the birth of ISO Certification. An independent body (Watchdog) such as the SABS, BSI, TUV, and Bureau Veritas conduct regular audits against your processes and the International Standard to create the assurance you are looking. How ISO Standards And Quality Management affects SMMEs

That is why your company must invest the time and money to implement the value adding systems with the right consultant. This in turn will provide your current and potential clients the assurance that you have the relevant processes in place to deliver what is required and will provide you with the competitive edge. You are not too small to become ISO certified.

Where do I start if I want to become ISO Certified?

where-do-i-start-if-i-want-to-become-iso-certified

ISO Management systems work on a four-phase approach to develop, implement, train and assist organisations through certification.

The following will give you an overview of how the process works:

Phase 1: GAP analysis & Identification of processes

  • GAP Analysis Audit on the choice of your ISO Standard
  • All Staff to undergo awareness training on the ISO Standard (Requirements)
  • Analyse & identify current systems (Policies, Objectives, Risks, Processes and Procedures) within the company and gather information.

Phase 2:  ISO Management System Development

  • ISO Management systems manual (Policies, Objectives and Mandatory Procedures)
  • Process documentation and Standard Operating Procedures
  • Risk assessments and tools to assist in Monitoring, Measuring and Analysing. 

Phase 3: Implementation

  • Coaching and change management of Top Management and attaining Leadership Values.
  • On the job training with all staff and workshops on the ISO Management Systems
  • Internal Auditor & Maintenance Training
  • Internal Audit, non-conformances, corrective actions and reviewing of risks
  • Management Review Meeting and Review of all Statistical Analysis.

Phase 4: Certification

  • Stage 1 Desk Study Audit with the Certification Body
  • Stage 2 Certification Audit, Non-conformances and Corrective Actions completed
  • Annual Surveillance Audits to justify continuous improvement.

ISO standards aren’t rigid rules, but rather a set of generic requirements and guidelines to what we as a business should be following.

It’s the basics of business, we tend to overlook the basics and focus on profits, which jeopardies our quality and service.

Your clients are becoming more advanced, better informed and their expectations are growing. Having ISO Management Systems provides organisations with the competitive edge over their competition, by gaining National/International recognition.

In fact, any organisation, whatever their size or industry sector can give themselves a secure future by introducing ISO Management Systems. Remember to look for management systems that can guarantee 100% certification with any certification body such as SABS, TUV, BSI, Bureau Veritas, DEKRA etc.

Continue Reading

How to Guides

Everything You Need To Know About Podcasting But Were Afraid To Ask

After building the Matt Brown Show into a global media platform, I’ve experienced this same story on numerous occasions. However, every time I’ve switched someone onto the world of podcasts they never look back and very rarely, if ever, listen to the radio once they have tried listening to a podcast.

Matt Brown

Published

on

podcasting

I recently interviewed Gil Oved (The Co-CEO of The Creative Council) and Romeo Kumalo (the former CEO of Vodacom).

Just before we hit the record button I was talking to Romeo about podcasting. We discussed how the radio experience is generally depressing and started talking about podcasting. While Romeo has heard of the terms “podcasting” he didn’t know much more about it or how to access a podcast from his phone.

After building the Matt Brown Show into a global media platform, I’ve experienced this same story on numerous occasions. However, every time I’ve switched someone onto the world of podcasts they never look back and very rarely, if ever, listen to the radio once they have tried listening to a podcast.

What in The World Is a Podcast?

In 2004 Guardian newspaper writer Ben Hammersley, suggested possible names for the booming new medium, the “pod” of podcast is borrowed from Apple’s “iPod” digital media player; and the “cast” portion of podcast is taken from Radio’s “broadcast” term. Just because it’s named after Apple’s iPod, does not necessarily mean that you must own or use an iPod — or any portable digital media player for that matter — to enjoy a podcast.

Related: [PODCAST] Ross Drakes, Owner Nice Work, – How To Hustle For Your Money

Okay, so that explains the name, but what is a podcast exactly?

Do you remember the days of the Sony Walkman? If you don’t, then that’s okay because you’ll be able to relate through this short bit of history. For the first time, the Walkman enabled you to take your music with you wherever you went. Simply push play and off you went listening to your music, most likely Billy Joel’s album 52nd street – the best-selling album of 1979.

A podcast is the same as Billy Joel’s album, but with two major differences. The first difference is that you won’t use a Walkman, but instead you’ll use your smartphone. If you have an iPhone, then you already have a podcasts app pre-installed with it. Simply search for “podcast” and you’ll see this purple icon.

how-to-find-a-podcast

If you’re using an android phone go to the Google Play store and search for “podcast” and you’ll be shown several different podcast players (my personal favorites are Stitcher and Player.fm). Install any of these apps and you can join the school of cool.

The second difference is that when you listen to a podcast, you won’t hear Billy Joel’s music, but what you will hear is people talking. What are they talking about? Just about everything you can possibly think of. If you’re into Egyptian hieroglyphics there’s a show for that. If you’re into how to write a porno there’s a show for that, and if you’re into how to build small houses with matchsticks there even a show for that. There really is a show for everyone.

The point is that the world is moving towards “on demand” content and away from broadcast content like radio and traditional TV. DSTV is an on-demand content service. You can record and play shows that you like on your terms, and not when a radio station decides to air something.

Who Is Podcasting?

Podcasting has seen a surge of interest from brands and media companies over the past year. Just this year, Buzz Feed, Esquire, Vogue, InterContinental Hotels, General Electric, Tequila Avión, HBO and State Farm Insurance have started their own podcasts – even Alanis Morissette now has her own podcast.

Related: [PODCAST] An Inside Man On How To Disrupt The Banking Industry

Podcasts are booming, and it’s paying off for brands like General Electric. Their first podcast called “The Message” was downloaded over 500,000 per episode on average.

Why Most South African Brands Aren’t Podcasting — Yet

Despite the growing audience, why aren’t more brands producing their own shows? After all, brands were relatively quick to use other online publishing channels such as blogs, social media, and long form interactive stories. Podcasts have been around since the early 2000s, yet most brands don’t have a podcast. It’s nonsensical to say the least, but the simple answer is that high-quality podcasts are very difficult to pull off.

I’ve learnt this first hand from building the Matt Brown Show. Producing a successful show takes an incredible amount of work and dedicated resources and most businesses do not have the time to do that. This is the main reason why I started Matt Brown Media – a company that helps businesses with new ways to tell their story to their target audience, using a podcast.

The Benefits of Podcasting

Most brands refuse to accept the inevitable. No-one wants to hear a 30 second commercial anymore, but there is a large audience who is interested in a podcast about how a business creates value and can potentially solve a problem for them.

A podcast is a simple, yet highly effective way to convey an experience of a business, its products and services. Microsoft is doing just that, where they used a podcast to drum up excitement for the next Halo release. Microsoft created a narrative based podcast called “The Hunt” based in the Halo universe.

It ended up being a hit, and to give you an idea as to how much of an impact it made, listeners were upset that the storyline in the podcast didn’t connect with the actual game. Microsoft released two seasons so far and it’s safe to say there will be a season 3.

Related: Asking The Wrong Questions Will Break Your Business

But, perhaps the biggest aspect of what makes a podcast truly unique, is that it can immediately deliver itself to multiple smartphone apps on any number of devices at the same time.

Listeners can easily “subscribe” to podcasts (most are free) by clicking on a subscription button. So, when a podcaster releases a new episode, subscribers are automatically notified without having to constantly check back with the podcast’s website to see if a new show has been produced. You produce it once, and thousands of listeners are notified simultaneously.

And, once someone subscribes, episodes of their favourite podcasts can be automatically downloaded — all without having to lift a finger. So, in this way, podcasts are like magazine subscriptions that are always with you, wherever you go.

how-to-subscribe-to-a-podcast

The other thing that’s great about a podcast, is that it can easily be embedded in any website (you’ll note that my show is available on my website here and also on EntrepreneurMag’s website here) and any podcast can easily be shared on social media. There is no place a podcast cannot go. It’s powerful stuff. 

Everything Else You Need to Know About Podcasting

There are over 1.5-billion apple, subscriptions of podcasts on iTunes. That’s approximately a quarter of the planet earth.

To quote Jonah Weiner: “Podcasts embody what is arguably the essential promise of the Internet: a means for surprising, revealing, and above all ennobling encounters with people, things, and ideas we didn’t know. Listen to enough podcasts and you may come to feel that they are not merely of the Internet, but improved, microcosmic versions of it.”

Podcasts occupy a sophisticated position within what we might call the feel-good Web — that battles the cruelty and nastiness that overflows from YouTube comments and other debacles we find on social media. 

Conclusion

If your brand or business has been ignoring the podcast industry because it seemed too niche, it is time to reconsider — even if it’s just to explore the types of shows out there. Every business needs to own a unique space in the market, but to get the attention of your target customer is becoming increasingly difficult. Podcasting enables you to capture that attention in new ways. It’s how I built Matt Brown Media using the Matt Brown Show.

If you’d like more information on how to create a podcast for your business, please get in touch.

Continue Reading

Trending

FREE E-BOOK: How to Build an Entrepreneurial Mindset

Sign up now for Entrepreneur's Daily Newsletters to Download​​