Disclaimer: This post does not constitute legal advice. You should seek independent legal advice from a certified professional that will be able to advise you on how to best create a virtual assistant contract based on your personal situation.
As a digital professional (freelancer, solopreneur or as a Virtual Assistant), having a contract may be daunting and overwhelming. If you’re someone who thinks contracts are too serious for your services, we will need you to think again and consider having one (or to call it a little lightly, I call them as handshake agreements).
The most common reactions every individual get to have once a client asks for a contract:
- Should I really need one? I’m only but a small player (far from corporate)
- What if I do something wrong, will I get sued?
- I can’t wait for the client to do something wrong, I’ll raise it up and ask for compensation or justification
You can be kind or cruel but these contracts are meant to protect you, not get you to jail. It’s to solidify commitments. In fact, these contracts or handshake agreements should be put in place – always in good faith.
Having a contract would also build a reputation.
Why does a digital professional need a contract anyway?
To cut it short, these contracts are meant to set expectations clear and confirming that both parties understand and agree with regards to deliverables and expectations. The purpose is to solidify the handshake agreement into what both camps can and will do for the benefit of both of your welfares.
Consider these contracts as protection for both you and your client from complications in your working relationships. If a client refuses to sign the contract, you can use this ‘handshake agreement’ as a strategy to tell inform them of how professional you are and that you respect or value their trust.
What elements should the contract reflect?
On our case, we always have our contracts customized according to what has been discussed and what it’s about. However, if you will be having products and services which have the same promise and expectation, having a template is convenient.
That being said, here are the essential elements of a contract template:
- Who is this contract for and agreeing with
- Description of services
- Timelines and Payment terms
- Other necessary elements
1. Contract Addressees
This section of the contract specifically states whom the contract does it belong to and it serves with and for. It usually also includes both businesses address and professional name (should there be any) and whom does it agree with.
2. Description of Services
Either you decide it to be per section or a side-by-side representation, this section of the contract specifically outlines the tasks you will perform for your client and vice versa. You’ll need to be specific as possible and include clear expectations with regards to the timelines, availability and any other milestones for KPI you have agreed with the client and what you expect of them.
This will also entail the audit specific at the end of the contract.
3. Timelines and Payment Terms
Money chases value, this will entail a fair compensation of the services you’ll be rendering and/or what they will also be rendering with you, for you. This will also entail the frequency of invoicing, method of payment, and when it’s due.
We use wave invoice for invoicing and sending digital acknowledgment receipts.
You will also have to indicate what the payment terms will be and if the project gets canceled yet you’ve worked on few days or hours already, how should that be handled.
This section of the contract will protect you if your client runs into unexpected scenarios that make payment difficult and you’ll be able to have proper documentation.
Of course, we wouldn’t want to let go of any client but should there be any circumstances that need this clause, you’ll have to make sure you’ve already got it covered. Should there be instances that an inevitable end had to be done, both parties should agree on how the collaboration will end and should be communicated – email or termination letter?
This section should also indicate the notification period (immediately or 2 weeks?) and what will the terms be with regards to the service rendered payment dues.
If you think these are necessary and upon agreement, it’s about just to indicate the following:
- How to handle retainers
- Non-disclosure and non-solicitation clauses
- Confidentiality Clauses
- Copyright -and-
- Work ownership clauses
- Ownership agreement
So, do you really need a contract? Absolutely!
However, there are those who just indicate the services and timelines through the cost estimates and invoices, those may also suffice especially if these are one-off’s and if relationships have already been established. Don’t let the lack of a contract prevent you from setting up your business. You can make the contract as direct as possible and amend as it happens.