As an independent business consultant, your expert advice is key to help companies achieve their goals and streamline their operations. However, working with the company's employees can get tricky, and establishing clear boundaries is important so you can keep providing top quality services. Incorporating a consulting contract to your client onboarding process will help you outline clear expectations and limits, but also keep your business protected against legal ramifications.
To make this process more efficient, you can create a bulletproof business consulting contract template. A well-designed pre-written format will ensure that all the important information is covered for all of your new clients and at the same time save you a lot of time that you can invest in other important areas of your company. Let's go over the essential elements your template must cover so you can get off on the right foot.
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Essential Elements of a Business Consulting Agreement Template
A consulting agreement can get very long and confusing, but it is an important legally binding document that you must pay close attention to. While the exact information you include might change depending on the client and all the services you're offering, there are some basic elements that must always be present on your contract.
Here's the information that you must cover when drafting your contract template.
Begin your consulting agreement template with a section for your business contact information including full name (or company name), phone number, email, and address. Do the same for your client's business and personal information.
Specifying the business consulting services you will provide is the main piece of your contract document. What are you offering to your clients in exchange for their money? You should not be writing a contract if you have not yet sat down with a client to do a 'discovery session'. In order to outline your services, you must clearly understand your client's situation, challenges and goals. This way you can be specific enough in describing the services you'll provide such as data analysis, presentations, assessments, and any strategies you will carry out to meet your client's needs.
Your consulting services agreement must include the expected start and finish dates of the project. It is also a good idea to include the important dates in between such as when your client is expected to see results or meet certain milestones. Making a list of checkpoints you can use as you work can be beneficial in this section. To ensure the client's satisfaction with the work as it develops, you may also wish to have them sign off on each stage of the project.
Costs and Payment Terms
For this section of your consulting agreement, you want to specify the total cost of the services you will provide as well as outline a payment structure. This should define the amount required to get the process started, how many more payments will be needed and you expect to receive the money. You can also include all of the accepted payment methods, which may include cash, credit/debit cards, AHC transfers and online payments.
Intellectual Property Rights
Unless otherwise stated, ownership rights are usually retained by the client who's paying for your consulting services. This frequently applies for creative works like custom software, advertisements, logos or legal drafting. However, as part of your program you may provide tools, materials or equipment developed by yourself which must remain your sole property. Protect your work by incorporating a clause to specify who will hold exclusive ownership rights.
Maintaining client anonymity is vital for the success of any business relationship, and this only gains importance when it comes to consulting. You will frequently need to access your client's personal and private information in order to help them reach their goals. Which is why your consulting contract template must include a clause that ensures all confidential information discussed during the program will remain private. You are not to discuss any personal matters without prior written consent unless you are required to do so by law.
Remember this goes both ways. You may also have to share personal information and trade secrets with clients that must remain private, so your client must also be held accountable for fraud or disclosure breaches.
If your contract has a fixed term, make sure to specify whether either party can terminate the agreement early, and the process that must be followed in these circumstances. Discuss how long in advance a written notice should be presented, and if you will issue any refund for services paid in advance as well as how and when the money will be refunded. Equally, specify how and when any pending balance should be covered in the case any party decides to end the program.
This clause specifies that the parties' relationship is that of independent contractors, and this agreement does not establish an employment relationship. Under no circumstance should you as an independent contractor be considered an agent of the business for which you will provide your consultant's services. This section can also establish that you have the right and freedom to work the hours that you deem necessary to perform the tasks under the agreement, and that you have exclusive control over the methods and manner of performing such services.
Another important aspect to cover is how disagreements and disputes will be handled. This may include mediation, arbitration, or a reference to court-based litigation (commonly referred to as a "jurisdiction clause"). You must make sure all parties agree to the chosen forum for the resolution and how the legal costs will be covered.
The dispute resolution clause will establish a preferred forum to resolve disputes, but you must also address the actual legal principles regulating the contract. To avoid confusion, this must be done in a separate clause. When you determine the applicable law on your consulting agreements, you make sure that no party has any legal advantage when it comes to solving disputes.
Use Our Free Consulting Agreement Template
Creating an agreement template from scratch might be a time-consuming and overwhelming task, especially if you're still not sure how to structure it properly. But don't worry, you don't have to do it yourself. All you need is to simply download Bonsai's free consulting contract template which you can fully customize to fit your business and client's needs. But this is not just a simple consulting agreement template.
Bonsai also helps you follow up on your contracts by sending you notification once your client receives and signs your document, which they will be able to do safely with a legal online signature. You can be sure your business will stay protected as all of our contract templates have been legally reviewed by top lawyers and verified by thousands of independent consultants. Get your free template today!