As an independent consultant, you should know the importance of entering into a independent consultant agreement before starting work for a client. Being a freelancer has a lot of steps and keeping a draft contract or template is one of them.
Since you will be performing the same kind of services for various clients, you should consider having a draft contract in place that you can use with each of your clients. A independent consultant agreement is a template that has all the standard clauses and terms and conditions in place.
You can use the it to enter into negotiations with your client. Once you and your client agree to the same terms, you can make changes to the draft contract and make it your final contract. This final contract just needs to be signed by you and your client on stamp paper to make it legally binding.
While making your independent consultant agreement, you should ensure that it has all the clauses that you might need. You should tailor all the clauses to make sure they suit you and are terms that you would be happy to work under.
Here are the major reasons why having a independent consultant agreement in place is essential.
One of the major causes of disagreement between consultants and their clients is when and how much they get paid. Even if you think you clearly agreed on such terms over the phone and there is no room for confusion, there is always scope for misunderstanding at a later date. You do not want to be in a position where the client is refusing to pay the agreed-upon charges. Clients are also in a position to indefinitely delay payments.
Having a contract in place that clearly lays down the terms of payment goes a long way in helping you demand your payment. You can show them the contract which they signed if there is a disagreement or if they have not adhered to the terms of the contract. Once you have an independent consultant agreement in place, you can do the work with the peace of mind that you will be paid and paid on time. Having a contract increases the chances of that happening manifold.
An independent consultant agreement will clearly lay down your responsibilities under the contract. It will clearly state the limits of the work that you are supposed to do. Since everything you need to do has been stated in writing and signed by both parties, the client cannot ask you to put in more hours or increase your deliverables at a later date.
You have much higher bargaining power if your scope of work has already been defined. A client may find that they need additional work done at a later date. If additional work is not part of the contract that has been signed, you are in a position to refuse doing that work or demand additional payment.
Having a clearly defined scope of work may save you from many disagreements with your client once the work begins.
An independent consultant agreement will clearly state your responsibilities and the responsibilities of the client. This means that there is no scope for misunderstanding at a later date. Your contract will clearly state when and how much the client needs to pay you, the work that you need to do for them, the deadline for the submission of the work, what happens in case there is a breach of the contract, etc.
It will also clarify that you are working for your client as a freelancer or independent consultant, rather than an employee or agent. This can have tax implications and change the kind of income tax returns that you need to file.
You should make sure that your independent consultant agreement contains a few essential clauses. Apart from the standard clauses that are part of every such agreement and are needed to make the contract legally binding, there are other clauses that need to be in place.
Your contract should clearly state the terms of payment, the scope of work, the duration of the contract, the renew-ability of the contract, the termination of the contract, and what happens if the contract is breached.
Having an independent consultant agreement can save you time, effort and money. Keep a draft contract with you so that you can base your final agreement on it. This ensures peace of mind so that you can concentrate on the real work.