What types of contracts a small business needs varies depending on the nature of the small business. However, there are some very common contracts which most small businesses do require and can be easily drafted with the help of a small business lawyer. These have been outlined briefly below.
If your business provides services, then you will need a master client contract which you can amend for every new client. The client contract will clearly set out the services that you provide, an expected start and completion date if necessary, the fees you will charge, and how and when you expect to be paid. A detailed client contract which sets out exactly what the client will receive can help avoid disputes between you and your clients and save you plenty of time and money in the long run.
If your business is involved in selling goods then you will need a sales contract that can be signed by your customers or a set of online sales terms and conditions which can be viewed on your sales website. The sales contract should indicate what products are for sale, the prices for the products, and your exchange, returns and refunds policy. You should note that under the Australian Consumer Law, there are certain guarantees you are required to give to consumers, so if a product is faulty or damaged, you are required to offer a replacement, refund or repair, depending on the circumstance. If you are unsure of your obligations under the Australian Consumer Law, you may need to seek advice from a small business lawyer.
If you employ any staff you will need an employment contract. As a small business, you may only have a very small number of employees. As you only have a limited number of employees to assist you, it is important that your employees understand their obligations, and the best way to ensure this is to have an employment contract which clearly sets out your expectations. This may include expecting your employees to be at a business location during core business hours and requiring that they follow certain policies or dress codes. While your employees have obligations to you, you also have obligations to them. You will need to ensure that all your employees are being paid according to any applicable awards and that they will receive their statutory entitlements.
Some small businesses do not have employees but choose to have contractors who they can contract work to. This may be more suitable for businesses that may not yet have a steady flow of customers. If you have contractors performing services for your business, it is important that you and the contractor each understand your rights and responsibilities in the principal and contractor relationship. Misunderstandings which occur, such as the contractor holding itself out as an employee of your business, could lead to your business incurring liability and possibly legal action taken against you.
If your small business operates from a physical premise that you do not own, then your lease is a very important contract that should be reviewed in detail. If there are any concerns with your lease or if you feel that you are being bullied by the landlord/lessor, you should seek immediate assistance from your lawyer.
If you require any legal contracts drafted, you should get in touch with a small business lawyer. An experienced small business lawyer will understand your business needs and be able to help you prepare simple contracts which cover all the necessary items to protect you and your business. Having good legal documents can help avoid disputes and worse, litigation, which is costly and time-consuming, and takes you away from focusing on growing your business.