Common business contract considerations for New York owners

If you own any type of business in New York, you understand that the success of your business depends on your connections, customers and contracts. Strong relationships with suppliers, vendors and subcontractors allow you to count on them to deliver goods and services how and when you need them. Finding and retaining good customers allows you to maintain a consistent flow of business.

The glue that holds all of your business relationships together, however, is the strength of your contracts. Failure to adequately document your agreements with internal and external individuals and industry associates can lead to business disputes.

Contracts with customers

Your customers are the lifeblood of your business. Whether you provide a service, create a product or assist others to do the same, your customer agreements should be customized to fit your needs and avert possible disputes. Contract provisions should contemplate numerous situations and outline how the parties should address issues of termination, contract breaches and dispute resolution.

Document all changes in circumstances of your working relationship with your customers as well. Amendments, addendums or change orders should be a part of your normal course of business when revisions become necessary. Do not rely on oral statements or promises because, if a contract dispute goes to court, the written word will speak louder than any testimony given.

Vendor and supplier contracts

New York companies do not work in a vacuum and businesses must work together to accomplish their individual goals. Supply agreements, equipment leases and releases of liability should all be part of your normal course of business. Carefully drafted contracts can also help protect your trademarks, trade secrets, patents and other items of intellectual property. Non-disclosure provisions may be necessary for those exposed to the internal workings of your company.

Employee and co-ownership contracts

Internal contracts and agreements are just as important, if not more important, than those with parties outside of your organization.

  • Co-owner and partnership agreements:Failure to establish and maintain a co-owner or partnership agreement can mean disaster in the event of an early retirement, divorce, economic downtown or death. Your business cohorts will not always agree and your contracts should outline steps to take to resolve internal disputes.
  • Employment agreements: Outline the duties and expectations of each worker in employee agreements and employee handbooks. Non-compete agreements or provisions can help protect you when a former employee leaves and tries to open a competing business.
  • Independent contractors: You should use an independent contract agreement for short-term workers and consultants. Such agreements should comply with New York standards so that, once the relationship ends, an individual cannot claim he or she is entitled to rights reserved for employees.

Consult a contract lawyer

If you have questions or concerns about drafting contracts, disputing provisions or suing for contract breaches, consult an experienced contract attorney. An attorney knowledgeable about business and corporate contracts in New York can help.