Sunday, January 13, 2008

Get That Contract Signed! ASAP! (Part 1)

Practice what you preach. A well known cliche and one that certainly rings true in our latest dealings in startup world. We've had quite a few people - both those who are friends and those who aren't, who have been providing us with work, advice, etc. Since we only incorporated very recently, we have just started going through our contract negotiations with people. We learned the hard way that it's better to make deals ahead of time. While we dealt with the issues of our engineers in previous posts, the most recent issues have dealt with others involved in our product. One thing I can't express enough is that it becomes very real when contracts are put on the table.

The most recent deal has revolved around open dialog and trust between parties. It's during these discussion that we have found that people's feelings get heavily involved in their negotiations. We try to explain the importance of protecting the interests of our company - and though it's nice in theory to say things will get taken care of, for us, we don't want to risk future litigation, ownership, or the well being of the company. The most recent and high profile of these lawsuits deals with Facebook (here).

Although it's painful to be unable to see eye to eye with people concerning contract disputes - it's important to get contracts in place before you proceed with having people work on your business. Make sure you have this stuff taken care of up front. If I could point to the one piece of starting this company that has been the most difficult, it has been dealing with this issue. We have to part ways with several people already. But we're not willing to concede the well being of our company, our business model, or our integrity in succumbing to unrealistic demands. I've heard too many times how this has come back to bite people in the ass.

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