5 Contracts that Your Small Business May Need

Disclaimer: This article is intended for the purposes of providing information only and is to be used only for the purposes of guidance. This article is not intended to be relied upon as the giving of legal advice and does not purport to be exhaustive.

There are many different types of contracts that a small business might need, and it is important to know which ones you will need in order to avoid any problems. In this post, we will go over five types of contracts that a successful small business may need. There are many others out there, but these five should cover most bases!

At Beeksma Law, we are also entrepreneurs and are passionate about helping small businesses and entrepreneurs succeed!

In fact, one client recently said, The team at Beeksma Law made this process so easy for me! They helped me determine what I needed to include in my contract and helped me understand each component.”

If you want to take a closer look at your existing contracts or want to talk about some new ones, then do book a call today to discuss your business needs with our team.

Do I need a contract?

This comes up often, especially when doing business with someone familiar. There is a conversation and everyone is in agreement, so why have a formal agreement?

Because too often, memories of conversations become clouded over time. In the absence of a contract, assumptions can be made. Assumptions become misunderstandings that quickly snowball into disagreements.

Too often, we see small businesses realize too late that an ounce of prevention would have resulted in a pound of cure.

Protect your relationships by having a contract in place. Clearly outline roles, responsibilities, expectations, and boundaries. Contracts don’t have to be complicated, but they do need to exist.  

Can I Do it Myself?

Let’s first discuss the danger of trying to write your own contracts or use templates from the internet!

Imagine you found a box lying in the ditch that said “cookies”.  Would you take it home and eat it? No! You have no idea where it came from and if it contains something that might be damaging to you.

It’s the same idea with template contracts. Unless you know the source, you cannot be sure if it is right for your business.  It could be written with a different jurisdiction in mind. It may reference antiquated legislation or a recent case may have clarified a certain point of how contracts should be drafted.

Whatever the issues, the result would be the same: you would have a contract that would not be serving your business and would, as a matter of fact, do real damage down the line.

Knowing that you need contracts specific to your business, which ones do you need? Here are just some of the contracts that your small business may want to have in place.

Service Contract

A service contract is an agreement to provide some service, whether it is a one-time event or ongoing.

A good service contract will contain the following:

* Details of the service and how long it will take to provide.

* Payment details, including when payment is due and whether there are any fees for late payments or missed deadlines.

The contract should also contain a termination clause so that either party can terminate at their discretion without penalty if they believe the other side is not fulfilling their obligations under the contract.

Website Terms of Use Agreement

If your business has a website (and yours most likely does) then you will need a website terms of use agreement.

Basically, it is an agreement between your business and users on the website outlining what visitors can and cannot do with the information contained therein. For example, a strong agreement will contain copyright protection warnings or sets forth any disclaimers related to the information on the website.  It will also contain a privacy policy that discusses the collection and use of any personal information obtained.

Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA)

In order to do business, you sometimes need to share information with a potential client or a contractor. An NDA, also called a confidentiality agreement, protects the confidential information of your business, whether it is a product or service you are developing or the processes that you use every day in your business.

You have worked hard to develop your business and that information should not be used to further someone else’s goals.  A non-disclosure agreement can help to protect your business and its intellectual property.

Lease

If your business has a physical location, you are likely going to be leasing that space. 

You are going to want a lease agreement that outlines the terms of your relationship with the landlord.  

As well, your landlord likely provided you with a lease to be signed.  You are going to want to make sure that your lawyer reviews that lease before you sign it. She will make sure that you fully understand and agree to its terms. She may also give you some recommendations on negotiating certain terms so that you have more rights. 

Additionally, your business may be creating or selling products, so you will need to include information in the lease about what can and cannot be done on the property.

While each business is different and each space is unique, a lease will generally include the following:

  • the parties
  • details about the space, including:
    • the address
    • a legal description
    • the square footage
    • the type of space (warehouse, office, retail, etc.)
    • the term of the lease
    • the amount of rent
    • any fixtures that are included
    • any security deposits
  • how the property can and cannot be used.

A lawyer that understands business contracts and real estate is an invaluable resource when it comes time to negotiate a commercial lease for your business. 

Partnership Agreement

You may not be starting your business on your own. You may be working with a partner.

Of course, you go into business with someone because you get along. What could possibly go wrong?

As it turns out, there can be many disagreements that arise in the absence of a strong partnership agreement. While ideally a partnership agreement is drafted before you start your business, it can be written up at any point.

Basically, a partnership agreement sets out the relationship between business partners and their individual obligations.  A partnership agreement should include: 

  • the amount of capital that each person is investing in the business;
  • how profits and losses will be shared, split, or otherwise distributed between partners;
  • how the business will be run; and
  • how the partnership can be dissolved.

In the absence of a partnership agreement, the Partnerships Act sets out default rules that may not be to your benefit.  Therefore, it is prudent to put a formal agreement into place that sets out the terms of the partnership clearly.

Prevent Issues Before They Arise

At Beeksma Law, we are passionate about preventing or de-escalating issues before they turn into larger legal battles. One way that small businesses can avoid hefty legal expenses is by having the right contracts in place.

If you would like to learn more about how we help small businesses, please click here or book a call with us.

The 4 C’s of Choosing a Law Firm

Choosing a law firm is no small feat. The Law Society of Ontario reports over 57,000 lawyer licenses, so how can you choose? 

There are several factors to consider, but first, it is important to note the impact of this decision. Whether it’s ensuring that your last wishes are protected or making sure that your first home purchase runs smoothly, you turn to a lawyer to protect the parts of your life that you hold dear. 

However, there are factors that you can consider when choosing a lawyer.  Here are just four to think about: 

  • Credentials and accomplishments
  • Competence
  • Compatibility and Core Values
  • Client Reviews

Credentials and Accomplishments

At a minimum, all lawyers in Ontario must be licensed with the Law Society of Ontario.  However, look for other signs that your lawyer is respected within their field. For example, are they members of professional organizations? 

Have they been recognized or been recipients of any awards? Where have they gained their experience? How long have they been in practice? 

Consider your lawyer’s background.  After receiving her education at one of Canada’s top law schools, Shayna Beeksma gained experience at Gowling WLG, one of Canada’s most prestigious law firms. 

Additionally, she has supplemented that high-caliber pedigree by practicing with a boutique and mid-sized law firm, gaining well-rounded experience that has served her well since she opened her firm in 2018. Shayna has combined her Bay Street pedigree with a Main Street sensibility to her clients’ benefits.

Besides being a sharp legal advocate, Shayna Beeksma is an active member of her community.  Some of the organizations that she works with include:

  • Rotary Club of Hamilton AM (Current Board Member)
  • Telling Tales (Current Board Member)
  • Christian Legal Fellowship (Past Board Member)
  • Reverend John C. Holland Awards (Beeksma Law is the annual sponsor of the Lincoln Alexander Award, awarded to a Black high school or postsecondary student for breaking down barriers in the community)
  • Mamas & Co. (Mentor, Guest Conference Speaker, and Guest Coach for Mom Bosses)
  • Pollinators (a vibrant community for female entrepreneurs)
  • BNI SCORE (Stoney Creek)
  • The Entrepreneur Nation (Ancaster)
  • Hamilton Law Association (CPD Subcommittee Member)
  • Ontario Bar Association
  • Advocates Society
  • Canadian Association of Black Lawyers

Shayna Beeksma is committed to the practice of the law and improving the profession as a whole. 

Competence 

In Ontario, all lawyers are barristers and solicitors. What does that mean? All lawyers in Ontario can handle the transactional and planning portions of the law, along with the litigation or court-related aspects.  Each lawyer chooses the areas of law and the types of services that they offer. 

Some firms thrive in handling disputes, while others shine in preparing transactions.  Yet others, such as Beeksma Law, provide comprehensive and well-rounded legal advice in both spheres. 

Leaning on her wealth of legal experience, Shayna uses her keen legal skills to advocate for her clients.  She has appeared at various levels of court, including the Ontario Superior Court of Justice. She has also argued cases before the Divisional Court, the Ontario Court of Appeal, and the Health Professions Appeal and Review Board. 

Besides being a fierce advocate, Shayna is strategic and effective in estate planning, structuring business transactions, and handling real estate transactions. Her experience allows her to prevent issues before they arise. Of course, the very best way to avoid disagreements is to ensure that terms are clear throughout the process.

Consider the ease of working with a law firm that provides full advice and expertise in an area of law.  Beeksma Law provides such knowledge in the areas of Wills & Estates, Business Law, and Real Estate, whether it is planning and transactional matters or any litigation related to those areas.

Compatibility and Core Values

When seeking legal advice, you need to turn to someone you can trust. Therefore, finding the right fit is incredibly important.  This is especially true when seeking a lawyer to deal with challenges, such as facing a loss. 

Meeting with a lawyer will give you a great opportunity to understand whether you are compatible. However, ask questions and be wary of any lawyer who guarantees an outcome – especially in litigation!  There are too many unknowns for a reasonable lawyer to predict with certainty what a court will decide. 

Additionally, choose a lawyer and law firm that truly cares about their clients and about what is best for them.  When you face times of trouble, especially if your visit to a lawyer is preceded by tragedy, you want someone compassionate and kind. 

As mentioned above, Beeksma Law is active within the legal community and committed to improving the profession. Shayna and her team strongly believe in ensuring that justice is accessible to all. Furthermore, Beeksma Law believes in achieving high results for their clients: excellence is truly their minimum standard. 

Client Reviews 

The best way to know what it’s like to work with a lawyer or law firm is to ask someone who has already been there! Ask your family and friends for referrals and review online reviews. 

Look for testimonials such as: 

“There were a lot of unknowns about [buying my first house], so your patience with me, your willingness to share and explain things in simpler ways and your shared excitement were a huge blessing.”

“I cannot say how professional and compassionate Beeksma Law is. We needed someone who would do all the lawyer stuff for us, but we also needed someone who genuinely cared. That sums up Beeksma Law for me.”

“We were always confident that our real estate deals were being handled perfectly…I would not hesitate to recommend Beeksma Law to anyone who wants to be sure that their real estate transactions will be handled by the best in the business.”

Beeksma Law and Shayna Beeksma have also been recognized by the Hamilton Spectator and by Hamilton Community News.  They were voted the Platinum Winners of the 2019 & 2020 Hamilton Spectator’s Readers’ Choice Awards in the law firm, real estate law firm, lawyer and real estate lawyer categories.  Additionally, Shayna Beeksma was voted the 2021 Platinum Winner of the Hamilton Community News’ Readers’ Choice Awards in the lawyer category.

Carefully Consider Your Options 

Choosing a lawyer for your business, real estate, and estate planning is a serious matter. However, by considering the above four factors, you can confidently have your legal issues resolved by someone you enjoy working with and trust. 

If Beeksma Law has the competence, credentials, core values, and client reviews that align with you, then we welcome the opportunity to work with you. Book an online consultation, and we will be happy to speak with you.