TOP REASONS WHY FREELANCERS NEED AGREEMENTS
Freelancers are independent and highly skilled professionals/specialists, who are great at what they do and usually enjoy almost every minute of doing it. For many freelancers it’s a superb way to run their own business whilst, for their clients’ businesses, using freelancers is a great way to get a job done well.
Freelancers usually build a solid working relationship with their clients and so may doubt that they have a need for a written agreement? Just another money drain, or are you missing something? Let’s look at some reasons before you decide:
(1) Outside Influences
It’s not just lawyers and compliance experts who like agreements. Organisations like HMRC have a habit of looking at freelancers and those who use them and coming to the decision that a freelancer is an employee.
The problem is that, without a written agreement, it can be difficult to prove that a great freelance relationship is not just a way for the business to avoid paying PAYE.
(2) I’m responsible for what?
When the relationship is between only two people who know how things work then everything may run smoothly. The problem is that people have a habit of retiring/moving on and sometimes even dying.
Cue a new person on the scene who doesn’t know what’s been agreed in the past (because there’s no agreement) and starts to make assumptions about what the freelance is responsible for doing – this is clearly a recipe for disaster.
(3) But I thought you already had………..
Freelancer roles often require specialist skills or qualifications and clients need them to comply with various rules and regulations.
It’s all too easy for the client business to assume that the freelancer knows, for example, that they need a DBS check and for the freelancer to be totally oblivious. Throw in a busy, hardworking environment and you’ll quickly get the picture how things can get messy.
(4) Getting paid
As Barack Obama said “Money is not the only answer, but it does make a difference”.
People don’t pay for all sorts of reasons – sometimes justified but sometimes some fairly lame – I put the cheque in the post – type reasons. The problem is that unless you have clearly agreed essential issues such as
- what needs to be done and
- what the payment is and
- how and when that payment will be made
Both the freelancer and the business client are leaving themselves exposed.
Money disputes are a sure-fire way to end an otherwise excellent working relationship so why would you want to leave that to chance?
(5) I report to who?
Let’s imagine a scenario. The freelancer needs a decision to be made really quickly and asks someone in “management” who makes a sensible decision. The freelancer acts accordingly, based on that decision. The next day the freelancer is told that the person who made the decision didn’t have authority to do so and the freelancer shouldn’t have acted on it and the work has to be redone at the freelancers’ expense.
At best, this is embarrassing, at worst; it could end up harming the freelancer’s reputation and costing them money. Why wouldn’t you want to agree something like this in writing from the beginning?
(6) Can you just do this ? Maintaining boundaries
We also call this scope creep or the job that keeps on giving.
Depending on what the services are it is all too easy for the client business and freelancer to ask for/do more respectively. This can build in confusion and resentment when the client assumes that everything is included in the agreed price and the freelancer sees a valid reason to add to the bill.
It so much easier to make it clear, for example, exactly how many drafts will be produced or how many edits are included. The client business knows what’s included in the price and the freelancer’s blood pressure is more likely to be within the normal range.
(7) Mine all mine
Are you clear just who owns what?
The freelancer builds a website, writes an e-book or prepares a training manual so the client business owns it – or does it?
It’s back, once again, to assumption. If nobody’s clear what’s involved, then it’s a clear case of making it up as we go along. This is fine for a game with the kids, but not so much for a business project.
(8) Is it ready? Deadlines
If I want a coffee quickly I actually mean right now and off I go. Others are often fine with much less rigid time frames and will sit and finish reading email before they head off for a caffeine fix.
The problem is that unless everybody knows the specific deadline for each stage of a project, each person’s idea of “as soon as is possible” will vary.
Putting an agreement in place does not have to be painful.
We can offer client businesses and freelancers two options for preparing agreements
- a bespoke service where we draft an agreement to meet your exact business needs
- an off-the-shelf agreement which is suitable for most types of work
Why not make life less randomly haphazard and build in some control? It’s your way of life. Live it your way. Talk to us on 01244 300413 or email [email protected]