As a lawyer I am in a problem-solving industry. I much prefer to be on the problem prevention side than having to help my clients clean up the mess they find themselves in, but I try to help when and where I can.
The last few months have been particularly frustrating. I’ve seen multiple situations where problems could have been prevented if the people involved had fully thought the situation through, called a lawyer to help them record their agreement in writing (and had the provisions they didn’t think about in advance), and signed their contract. Let me be clear – I’m not mad at my clients or prospective clients. I give them credit for realizing they are in over their heads and asking for help. The frustrating part is knowing that they are in difficult situations that could have been prevented.
Well written contracts are business gold. They put everyone on the same page from the beginning of the relationship and they outline how the parties will deal with problems when they occur.
I wonder what some people are thinking when they work without a contract or with a poorly written contract.
- “We were too excited about the project to worry about a contract.”
- “We were on a deadline.”
- “I didn’t think we needed a contract.”
- “The template I found online looked good enough at the time.”
- “Hiring a lawyer is too expensive.”
All of these are crappy excuses not to have a contract or to have an ineffective one. A responsible entrepreneur is thoughtful enough to know what their needs are including an awareness that they will be dealing with more pain if they have to clean up the mess compared to doing it right the first time. And if the person you’re working with doesn’t understand the value of having a legally sound contract written by someone who knows what they’re doing, I would have serious reservations about working with that person. I thoughtful entrepreneur knows it is a better use of their time and money to hire someone to draft a contract at the beginning of a project than to try to do it themselves and have to hire a lawyer later to clean up the mess they created for themselves.
More entrepreneurs need to hear and to realize, that even though they might be running a solo shop, they never have to deal with a situation alone. They don’t have to have all the answers all the time. It’s ok to ask for help. In fact, it’s a sign that you are a good entrepreneur when you play to your strengths and you let other people use their best skills on your behalf. This requires a high degree of self-awareness and humility.
Gary Vaynerchuk and his team made an awesome video about self-awareness as an entrepreneur. I regularly watch it as part of my journey as a business person.
This is an area where I have substantial interest – both as a lawyer and an entrepreneur. If you want to chat more about this topic, you can contact me directly or connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, or LinkedIn.