James Malinchak Explains Why Entrepreneurs And Speakers Should Always Secure A Contract

By Matthew Maxwell

Each time I speak on someone's stage or at their event, I need to get the chance previously to read the contract. It isn't because I think I am all that; it isn't because I think somebody is going to get me. I need to read the contract and have my lawyer read it first because I am protecting the assets of my business - me! That's right if you are a speaker, consultant, trainer, or any valuable piece of your company. Then, you are an important asset. Therefore, you have to protect yourself from harm, and you also must protect your business secrets, ideas, and contents from becoming someone else's property.

I am aware that many individuals wish to accomplish things on a verbal agreement or a handshake. Nonetheless, in terms of situations in which you do not agree, not having a contract can kill you or set you back, and sometimes it will be both. For instance, recently I was requested to speak at an event. Because the event was on again, off again, it made things challenging to complete. After I arrived at the venue, I realized that they had a brand new contract for me, one that I had not seen previously. I refused to sign it without my lawyer first previewing it. Of course, it made things uncomfortable for a couple of minutes, rather I be uncomfortable now then facing litigation or restitution for damages later on.

You see within the contract, it was clear that they wanted me to assume all liability if I were injured within their event. I don't need my attorney to understand that if they actually do something out of negligence that causes me harm, I don't want to assume liability for that nor provide them with the ability to avoid the responsibility of faulty equipment. Therefore, I refused to sign it. I became disappointed and frustrated, and prepared to leave rather than speak in that venue if their lawyer could not make changes or come up with another way to fix the problem. Again, I was not being difficult, I'm making them take responsibility for not taking action for mailing the contract before I made the journey to their event.

Allow me to provide you with another example of how agreements can save you being an audience member, too. At events, they frequently have you sign a waiver for making use of your image. Luckily, one of my clients had signed one in an event she attended because later when they said they were filming something in the event to which she didn't agree, she extracted herself from the filming area. Later on, she was told she made an appearance in the video to which she made an effort to avoid. Luckily, her waiver only gave permission for the venue at hand and did not give permission for any other usage for her image. As a result, she was able to demand her image was obscured to avoid her having any connection to a product that she didn't support.

As you can see, there are a lot of reasons to have agreements. The best one is to really make it clear of the expectations between you and the other party. For that reason, see agreements like a positive aspect instead of a negative aspect. They are there to safeguard you and to protect other people. And finally they're there to safeguard your business and your assets, along with your most valuable asset might just be you!

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