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On Your Terms

To protect and control your interests, keep these tips in mind when negotiating with consultants.

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This story appears in the March 2004 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Name a field, any field, and you can find a consultant ready, willing and (hopefully) able to advise and bill you for his or her expertise. When unique know-how is necessary, these specialists can be key. Of course, you'll commit your agreement to writing. But before you do, make sure these items are on your negotiating agenda:

1.How do i make sure my consultant completes the job to my satisfaction? Start by discussing how often you will communicate during the engagement and what form their work product will take. Bargain for approval rights, periodic progress reports and the like. Then put yourself in the driver's seat with a street-smart payment schedule that protects you. Negotiate milestones, and peg payments to them, with final payment conditioned on final delivery. When possible, pay after services are rendered.

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