Q: I'm establishing a partnership of sorts with a vendor I've been working with. How do I write the contracts?
A: There are numerous books and software that can help you write a business contract, including Ultimate Book on Forming Corporations, LLCs, Sole Proprietorships and Partnerships by Michael Spadaccini and Business Contracts Kit for Dummies by Richard D. Harroch . A lawyer doesn't need to be brought in, but if what's at stake is complex and worth millions of dollars, then you'd be foolish not to have an attorney look over your contract.
In your contract, some items you should cover are the obligations that you and the other party are expected to fulfill. If something goes wrong on your end, you should limit your liabilities--and likewise, the other party will expect the same gesture in return. You should set a time frame under which the terms of the contract will be met, as well as how each party will pay or be paid. And you'll want to have some language that keeps your contract flexible. People are human--they finish projects a day or two late, or they pay a week or two later than they intended. That may be acceptable to you if the other party is in contact with you and you know what's going on. Contracts aren't designed to hurt anyone; they're designed to keep businesses from being hurt if another company isn't keeping up its end of the bargain.
Geoff Williams has written for numerous publications, including Entrepreneur, Consumer Reports, LIFE and Entertainment Weekly. He also is the author of Living Well with Bad Credit.