If you run a B2B startup, or if you are a freelancer, you know how important it is to protect yourself and your business from legal disputes. Contracts play a vital role in establishing business relationships and conducting business transactions. They present clear and complete knowledge of each party's deliverables, expectations, rights, and obligations in a business partnership and are legally binding once signed by the agreeing parties. Additionally, they help to avoid misunderstandings, disagreements, and any possible legal issues from arising.
In this blog post, we'll look at the top six essential contracts that every B2B startup and freelancer must have. You can also download a free sample of these contracts, modify them to suit your business requirements, and quickly send them out for signatures using Zoho Sign.
The six contracts are:
- Service-level agreement (SLA)
- Non-disclosure agreement (NDA)
- Payment agreement
- Intellectual property agreement (IPA)
- Independent contractor agreement
- Termination agreement
Service-level agreement (SLA)
A service-level agreement is a contract between you, the service provider, and your customer that specifies the level of service that you will offer. It clearly defines key obligations like response times, availability, and performance goals. SLAs help both parties set the expectations right and guarantees that you achieve the specified quality of service as the service provider. They also encourage ongoing improvement and assist in risk management. SLAs lay the foundation for successful communication and enhance client satisfaction by aiming to address any service-related issues as soon as possible. Overall, SLAs are essential for managing your business relationships and ensuring that organization runs smoothly.
Non-disclosure agreement (NDA)
A non-disclosure agreement is a contract that prohibits the signer from disclosing confidential or proprietary information and establishes a confidential relationship between you and your customers or business associates. It defines the scope and duration of the agreement, as well as the consequences of a breach. NDAs aim to prevent sensitive information belonging to you, your customer, or business associates from being made public or known to unauthorized parties and your competitors. NDAs can play a significant role in protecting trade secrets and maintaining your competitive advantage.
A payment agreement is a contract that outlines the terms and conditions of payments between you and your customers or business associates. It specifies the payment schedule, the amount due, the method of payment, and any penalties for late or missed payments. Payment agreements ensure that everybody, including you, your customers and business associates, understands their financial commitments and responsibilities. It helps in eliminating uncertainties or misconceptions that could lead to disputes by providing a clear explanation of the payment process. Payment agreements also establish trust and dependability by guaranteeing that payments are made on time and in accordance with the terms agreed upon.
Intellectual property agreement (IPA)
An intellectual property agreement is a contract that outlines the terms and conditions of intellectual property ownership and use between you, your customers, and your business associates. Examples of intellectual property include patents, trademarks, copyrights, trade secrets, and other intangible confidential information. IPAs preserve the owner's intellectual property rights and establish explicit criteria for the ownership, licensing, and usage of such properties. They also provide legal protection for intellectual property and help in the prevention of infringement and unauthorized use, both of which can have serious financial and legal consequences. They also establish guidelines for the exchange and use of intellectual properties, aiding in the promotion of innovation and collaboration.
Independent contractor agreement
If you are a freelancer, independent contractor agreements outline the terms and conditions of your freelance work for other companies. They establish the legal relationships between you and other companies and clarify both parties' rights and obligations. They also provide legal protection to you and the companies by defining the terms of the relationship and clearly establishing your status as an independent contractor.
If you run a B2B startup, an independent contractor agreement helps in developing a clear and legally binding agreement that protects both your company's and the independent contractor's interests.
A termination agreement defines the terms and conditions for you to terminate your business partnership with a customer or an associate. It includes the possible causes for termination, the obligations following the termination, and any compensation or damages that must be paid. Termination agreements make both you and your customers or business associates aware of the rights following the end of the partnership and helps in the prevention of subsequent disagreements or legal issues. It is an important contract that enables partnerships to end in a seamless and respectful manner.
Having these essential contracts signed and executed appropriately is not just a best practice, it is a necessity. It gives your business relationship with your clients and other associates a clear framework and protects your interests in case of any unforeseen or untenable events. These six contracts in particular can assist you in laying a strong legal foundation for your company and build trust with your clients. By using them, you can reduce the potential for legal issues and concentrate on offering high-quality services to your clients.
Disclaimer: The sample contracts we have offered and the reasons we have outlined in this blog post for their use do not constitute legal advice. Please consult with your own lawyer or legal department for any modifications or recommendations on their use for your business needs.
Looking to learn more about this? Watch this video by Alex Berman, a top B2B business coach, to learn where these contracts come in handy. Alex also authored the free samples of these contracts available for download above.
So what are you waiting for? Start using Zoho Sign to sign or send these business contracts for signatures. If you're not an existing Zoho Sign customer, head over to zoho.com/sign and sign up for a free 14-day Enterprise trial.
Happy (Zoho) Signing!