Tough Business

What to look out for when establishing a business contract

If you’re a business owner you’ll hopefully be able to relate to this. There are some very important lessons that we can learn when it comes to establishing healthy business relationships.

When we first meet a business contracting prospect it’s easy to have the ‘rose coloured glasses’ on and to forget to be on the lookout for warning signs. But these warning signs can save us from a lot of heartache if we take the time to investigate them.

Contracting Health Check

  1. If the prospect has had a previous contractor working for them and that relationship has ended abruptly. Sometimes this can happen in business, but if we fail to investigate it we’re making a crucial mistake. It may be that the previous contractor has had to leave for health or family reasons. But even if this is the case, it’s worth taking the time to reach out to them and see if they are willing to talk. It could be that they had very real ethical or professional reasons for terminating the contract and you will want to know what they are.
  2. Is the prospect  approachable if you have a concern about something that is happening that affects your ability to perform the work you are contracted to do? I know this is not always easy to do when you are meeting for the first time to discuss a business contract. However, there are some questions you can ask the prospect, such as, ‘are you available to discuss issues that might affect my ability to perform the work’. Asking such questions will help you gauge whether the prospect is approachable as a business leader. If you find the prospect is always making excuses for how busy they are and how little they know about the business, then it can be a sign that the prospect is going to be difficult to work for. Sometimes there can be other parties involved who may seem like they can help us, for example, other contractors. So, it may seem like the situation will be manageable, but at the end of the day it’s the person you are directly contracted to who will be calling the shots.
  3. The last thing we need to watch for is whether the prospect is giving us everything we need to do our job. As a bookkeeper I know I am onto a good thing when the records I receive are up to date and well organised. If what we’re being given seems erratic and disorganised, it’s another warning sign and we need to decide whether we want to proceed with this kind of contract.

Remember, our success as business contractors is only ever as good as our client/customer relationships. If we don’t feel comfortable about that relationship it’s time to focus more on advertising and less time trying to support bad business contracts. If you have been contracting for a while, you know how to do your job, you deserve to be rewarded for what you do. Using the above contracting health check can help you make sure that happens.

Categories: Business


I'm an experienced bookkeeper with over 10 years' bookkeeping experience and BAS Agent Registration. I am a partner and advisor with leading accounting software companies including: Xero, MYOB, Quickbooks, Reckon, Sage One, and Saasu.

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