Many sole traders will be undertaking consultancy work, either as their principal business activity or to supplement their income. If you're being engaged as a consultant, it's a good idea to put things on a formal footing with a professionally written Consultancy agreement. This type of contract will ensure that both you and your client are clear on the services to be provided, as well as payment obligations. It also deals with issues such as ownership of intellectual property and data protection matters. If you're using the services of a consultant yourself, rather than providing them, this type of agreement is equally important to put in place.
Office sharing agreement
Renting office premises as a sole trader can be extremely expensive, although it's often a necessary expense. You may be able to share the cost with another small business, either by renting out spare office space offered by another company or by sharing your own space for a fee. An Office sharing agreement can be used to provide the relevant formality to such an arrangement. It should include a range of details such as workstations to be used, the period for which they are available and the licence fee payable for the specific shared office. For further information, read Sharing space.
Terms and conditions of business
Standard terms and conditions for the sale of goods or supply of services help to make your customers aware of their rights and obligations from the outset and allow you and your customers to focus energy on agreeing on the specifics of a particular order. If you are selling or supplying goods or services on a business-to-business basis, you should consider different terms and conditions than when selling to consumers. There is more legislation aimed at protecting consumers, which must be taken into account when drafting T&Cs. For further information read, Terms and conditions and How to choose the right terms and conditions to help you choose which T&Cs are right for you.
Website terms and conditions
If you have a website you should consider having Website terms and conditions. These govern the use of your website by others. Providing an effective set of website T&Cs can help to fulfil some of your legal obligations such as including full business details. It'll also illustrate that you've made every effort to discourage any undesirable activity by users in the case of a legal dispute.
If you need to share commercially sensitive information with another business, particularly where intellectual property is at stake, it's vital that you preserve confidentiality with a legally binding agreement. Sole traders often feel exposed in this area and would prefer to avoid legal costs so take chances, which can sometimes prove fatal to their business. A legally watertight Confidentiality agreement can avoid expensive lawyers whilst providing you with the protection you need. Also called a non-disclosure agreement (or NDA), this type of contract allows two businesses to freely negotiate terms of an agreement and to understand the proposal of a deal more thoroughly, without the risk of any confidential information being leaked.
You can alternatively use a One-way NDA if you're the only party disclosing confidential information.
Contract of employment
Some businesses will need to hire employees to help with the day-to-day function of the business and to provide expertise or labour. Having a written contract of employment when you hire employees will ensure that both you and the employee understand from the outset the responsibilities and obligations the role needs. Create your Employment contract to protect your business and give certainty to you and your employees.