Why I Insist On Contracts With My Clients

I’ve been consulting with business owners for many, many years and there was a time when I did not use contracts or agreements. I never felt the need to inject a formal and legal aspect to the work I had proposed and so a handshake seemed like the way to go.

consulting contract

photo credit: NobMouse via photopin cc

A few years ago I changed my tune completely on contracts and not because I got burned or felt the need to create something legally binding.

What changed was my view of what a contract could stand for and perhaps my definition of the word contract in general.

In my mind, particularly in the coaching, consulting and professional services world, a client relationship must be a mutually beneficial one if it’s going to work. In other words, both parties have to come to the relationship fully prepared to do their part if the most value is to be realized.

Now, what that mutual participation looks like differs for every business, but in my experience if a clear expectation and understanding of what that looks like is missing, trouble is not far away.

Think about past client work that didn’t go as well as it could. Usually what occurred was miscommunication or a misunderstanding of expectations.

Quite often we are so happy to get the work we don’t have the authentic conversation that needs to be had upfront. It’s so much harder to go back and recreate expectations once the work has begun.

So, back to the idea of a contract

I now use contracts with every engagement. I don’t use them, however, to create some legally binding agreement, I use them as a tool to communicate expectations, needs and wants for both parties.

Of course I want to be paid as agreed and that’s part of the contract, but I write these contracts in very plain language after careful discussion with the client about what we both need to do. The document is more of a social contract than a legal one.

I know my more legal minded readers may take issue with the casual nature of my use of contract. For what I’m describing I could easily use the term agreement and communicate the same thing, but here’s why I intentionally choose the word contract.

A valid contract needs to be entered into with the consent of both parties and it needs to spell out clearly the value exchanged by both parties. I don’t necessarily view my contract with a client as any more binding than an agreement, but I do find that the use of the concept raises the level of commitment from both parties.

I use the tool to spell out what kind of access and information I need from the client to do the work, the objectives and deliverables I am responsible for and they are responsible for, the level of support and communication I need from the client and their staff, the time table for getting together and finishing the work, the way results will be measured, how feedback will be given and of course how payment will be made.

The contract is drawn directly from the conversations we have in preparation for doing the work. The objectives are often outlined and prepared by the client through a collaborative approach, as are the goals and metrics.

I have found that this conversation is the best way to measure the client’s actual level of commitment to the work I’m being asked to do.

This approach to drawing up our ultimate contract is one of most important aspects of getting a project started right. In fact, this conversation has led to agreeing not to work together as well and that’s another powerful reason to make it an essential process.

I’ve wrestled with many names for this process but the term contract keeps coming back as the best use. The level of commitment it expresses, from both parties, sets the table for meeting and exceeding expressed expectations and guiding projects back on track when one or both parties fails to perform.

The #1 Reason You Feel Like a Failure and What To Do About It Today

Thursday is guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest is Noah St. John – Enjoy!

Naturally, every business owner wants their business to grow. When you’re trying to change anything about your business, or your life for that matter—whether you want to gain more customers, increase profits, improve your health, or whatever result you’re looking for—what you’re really trying to do is create a new reality for yourself.

Let’s illustrate that by saying that you want to go from your current reality to a new reality.

The funny thing about reality, though, is that all reality is perceived reality.  Here’s what’s really happening when you’re trying to grow your business or change your life…

1. Right now, you are living in what I call your Current Perceived Reality (CPR). In your CPR, you have what you have, you know what you know, you do what you do, and you are what you are.  This is your Current Perceived Reality—and to you, it is reality. It is your own little universe.

2. What you want is to be someplace else. That “someplace else” is what I call your New Desired Reality (NDR). In this case, you want to grow your business. But it could just as easily mean you want to change your health, your weight, your finances, your relationships, your sphere of influence, or any number of other things.

3. Between your CPR and your NDR lies what I call your Belief Gap: the space between where you perceive you are right now (your CPR) and what it will be like when you arrive “someplace else” (your NDR).

Here’s a picture to illustrate what I’m talking about…

Noah St John

photo credit: Noah St. John

How big is your Belief Gap? That depends on how long you’ve been in your CPR, how hard you think it will be to get to your NDR, how many of your friends and employees tell you, “It’s impossible,” when you tell them your dreams; and so on.

Bottom line? Your business may be failing because you haven’t bridged your Belief Gap for the results you want and are working so hard for.

Here are four ways to start bridging your Belief Gap starting today…


No, that’s not a typo. Afformations are a new technology of the mind that immediately changes your subconscious thought patterns from negative to positive. Afformations use your brain’s “embedded presupposition factor” to change your unconscious assumptions about what you can and can’t do (see #3 below).

Using Afformations has helped thousands of business owners bridge their Belief Gap and add millions in new revenues while working less and having more time off.

2. Ask yourself what you really want.

It’s true: You can’t get where you’re going if you don’t know where that is. Ask yourself, “If time or money were no object, what would I love to be, do, or have?” If the answer doesn’t frighten you a little, you may not be asking big enough!

3. Challenge your assumptions.

You are continually forming assumptions about life and your relationship to it. The problem is, many business owners assume negative things like It’s too hard or If I haven’t done it by now, I’ll probably never do it.

If these are your unconscious assumptions, your actions will be tentative, fearful, and anticipating failure—and your results will be less than desirable.

Just because you’ve failed in the past does not make you a “failure”. The simple fact that you’re reading this right now means that you are far stronger than you think.

4. Take out your head trash.

Most business owners are constantly focused on what they don’t have and who they are not. I call this your head trash.

Imagine if every negative thought you had ever had was a piece of trash in your home. Now imagine that you never took out the trash. Your home would be pretty disgusting, wouldn’t it?

Take out your head trash and you’ll find that it’s a lot easier to breathe—literally!

Bottom line: Use Afformations, take out your head trash, and watch your business—and your life—change in amazing ways.


1Noah-St-John-Head-Shot-High-ResNoah St. John is famous for inventing Afformations® and creating customized strategies for fast-growing companies and leading organizations around the world. His sought-after advice is known as the “secret sauce” for creating superstar performance.

Noah’s engaging and down-to-earth speaking style always gets high marks from audiences. As the leading authority on how to eliminate limiting beliefs, Noah delivers speeches, seminars, and mastermind programs that have been called “mandatory for anyone who wants to succeed in business.”

Get $500 worth of “The World’s Greatest Abundance Training” FREE when you get The Book of Afformations at www.AfformationsBook.com/more.