The gig economy is real and growing. If you’re an independent contractor, then you know that small businesses are relying on workers like yourself to build their brands. In fact, the rate at which small businesses use independent contractors continues to outpace employee hiring.
Don’t rely on a verbal or even an emailed agreement when starting a new project. Go the extra mile to protect yourself and your work by creating a contract.
If you’re just starting out as a freelancer, though, you may not know how to write a simple independent contractor agreement as you form a relationship with a business. Here are some basic terms you should include in all your contracts.
Names of Parties Involved
Your contract should include the names of all parties involved in this work agreement. In most cases, this will be your name or business name, as the independent contractor, and the name of the individual or company hiring you.
This section also establishes the nature of your relationship. When you first write each name, also include how each specific party will be referred throughout the contract. This reference will define your role in this professional relationship.
For instance, the business hiring you for work might be called “company,” “promisee,” or “offeree.” Meanwhile, you, as the independent contractor hired, might be referred to as “freelancer,” “client,” “promisor,” or “offeror.”
In your independent contractor agreement, be sure to include a project description. It’s important to outline the scope of services being provided by the independent contractor so both parties know what to expect. A clearly defined description will keep the project going smoothly.
Also, changes happen all the time in business. It’s important to acknowledge in this section how changes to the project or work expected from you will be addressed. Discuss how decisions regarding changes will be made and the cost of this additional work.
Deadlines and Deliverables
Your independent contractor contract should include a timeline for when work will be completed. This could include either dates for specific portions to be completed or a deadline for the entire project. Discuss this term with the individual you’re working for to determine a deadline all are comfortable with.
By laying deadlines out clearly in your contract, this will let you know when you’re supposed to deliver completed work and will keep the project on track.
Payment and Billing Information
This is one of the more important pieces of the contract: how and when you get paid. Will you be paid per project or hourly? Also, include your payment preferences in this section. For instance, maybe you prefer to be paid by a check mailed to your business address. Or maybe you prefer being paid through PayPal, Square, or a similar app or service. Whatever your preference is, make it clear.
It’s also important to note when you expect to be paid by. Maybe you want to be paid within 30 days of completing the project. After that, you’ll tack a fee onto your invoice for every week your payment is late. Again, you just need to make your preferences clear in this section.
Termination From Project
If either party – whether it’s you or the party that hired you – want to back out of the contract early, establish the process for doing so in this section. There could be any number of reasons to terminate a business relationship from non-payment by the company to the contractor not completing work as planned.
Depending on the nature of the work you’re completing, the company or individual you’re working for might expect a certain amount of confidentiality, which can be included in your contract. This non-disclosure term could also extend to cover confidentiality regarding any of the company’s business practices, processes, or plans, even if you’re not involved with them.
Find a Template for a Simple Independent Contractor Agreement
If it sounds overwhelming to write your own agreement, there are plenty of resources online that will provide a contract template and a guide to contract best practices. Tweaking a pre-written template to meet your specific needs can ultimately save you time and money.
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