Why Get Agreements in Writing?

Handshake agreements are great; still, get it in writing.

Stever Robbins
4-minute read
Episode #105

Today’s topic is building close business relationships. The quick and dirty tip is get it in writing!

I do business on a handshake, and I’ve always liked the idea that a handshake is all you need. Then I learned that Ninjas can kill you sixteen different ways using only a handshake. No one backs out of a handshake deal with a Ninja… or a Pirate, actually. Unless you’re a Ninja or a Pirate, when you’re putting together a joint project, write down the terms in a simple document.

Why Do You Need a Contract?

If you trust them, why do you need a contract? You hear this when billionaires discuss prenuptial agreements with their spouses-to-be. “We’re in love! If it’s true love, surely we don’t need all that icky legal stuff.”

Wake up and smell the coffee: today’s true love can be tomorrow’s tell-all story in a popular gossip rag. You need a contract because it’s the contract that makes it possible to trust.

Contracts Build Trust

A contract forces you and the other party to resolve all the ambiguities, consider the worst-case scenarios, and address them explicitly. Trust is a wonderful emotion that has nothing to do with law. Contracts are legal devices, not emotional devices. They serve a different purpose. A contract forces you and them to resolve all the ambiguities, consider the worst-case scenarios, and address them explicitly. Once you’ve been through that exercise, you can trust without reservation; you’ve nailed all the details.

You may be assuming things based on friendship. “They’re designing my web site for free.” Er, not necessarily. There are two kinds of friends who do things for you: the ones who are sharks and assume you’re paying full rates, and the ones who let themselves get walked all over. You don’t want to do business with either without knowing the rules.

Contracts resolve ambiguities so you can trust.

What Should You Put in a Contract?

One reason to hire a lawyer is because they’ve seen every way things can go wrong. They help you anticipate the pitfalls and think them through beforehand. The other reason to hire them is because you feel sorry for them and want to give them money. That’s a bad reason.


About the Author

Stever Robbins

Stever Robbins was the host of the podcast Get-it-Done Guy from 2007 to 2019. He is a graduate of W. Edward Deming’s Total Quality Management training program and a Certified Master Trainer Elite of NLP. He holds an MBA from the Harvard Business School and a BS in Computer Sciences from MIT.