With the development of the times, entrepreneurs have more and more access to information. With sample forms and online document preparation services readily available to business owners there are a lot of people that are “doing it themselves.” To begin with it should be noted that Michigan contract law follows two sets of rules when it comes to contacts based on whether the contract is for goods or services. How can an online document service that preaches they it does not practice law properly guide a Grand Rapids small business owner which set of rules they must follow? Beyond this the “do it yourself” entrepreneurs are creating two problems for themselves.
The first problem that arises is these forms were not tailored for your small business. Obviously a contact that was drafted between a pizzeria owner and peperoni supplier is going to be completely different then a contract between a construction company and someone looking to build a new home. It is impossible for there to be one form that can fit both situations. Even if a contract is stripped down to its most basic elements often times there is subtle differences between what you need and what a form can provide.
The second problem is that these forms, generally because they are overly simplified, always are missing elements that are vital parts of a contact. Let’s say you are an independent contractor that provides insulation services for homeowners. You contract with someone to insulate their attic. When you go to do the work you find there are certain issues with the attic that you can repair but it is extra work. Are you or is the homeowner responsible for that extra work? A well drafted contract will cover that very issue.
Every business and situation is unique. Disclaimers and terms should be added to every contract but those contract disclaimers and terms used in our contractor situation are different than those that fit a computer programmer’s situation which are different then someone providing snow plowing services.
Disclaimers and terms are very important. Think about landscaper that puts in a retaining wall for $3000. A week after the job is complete there is a huge rainstorm that washes out the retaining wall. If there are provisions in the contract that the landscaper is not responsible for acts of God that disclaimer can potentially save the landscaper $3000. That disclaimer is not important in 99% of your contracts but that one or two that it comes into play can be more then worth the money it costs to ensure that your contracts are complete. Often times in my practice my clients are an integral part of the process and work on developing their own contracts. This saves them money for my services and ensures their contracts fit their specific needs. Either way you go it is important to protect your small business with quality contracts.