How long have you been in business and how much longer do you think you’ll last?
Me? My business was recently threatened in a commercial dispute that could have ruined everything!
Find out where I went wrong and what you need to do – click on the Play button above… or read this article.
Don’t do what I did
The way you’re probably thinking about your business in this very moment… that’s the way I used to think about mine: “Commercial disputes? It wouldn’t happen to me”.
And it didn’t. For about 5 years. But then… then it did. I got involved in a commercial dispute with a client who didn’t seem to want to get off my back.
The situation went South… and I mean way South.
Lucky for me, I knew Chris. He helped me get out of this troublesome situation which was threatening to turn into a lawsuit. Because before you know it, they’re threatening to sue you.
So today’s guest on our weekly podcast interview is Chris Whitelaw. He’s an expert in managing commercial disputes.
Commercial disputes affecting your business
People’s disputes are causing them a lot of grief. The simplest way to keep your focus on your business is to try and get out of these disputes as soon as possible.
Participate in early resolution.
Because the consequences of commercial disputes are disastrous; you will have to put a huge amount of time, effort and money just to get back on the floating line. And we are talking about time you do not have and costs you can’t afford to pay…
It is a traumatizing experience.
For everyone who is in business, every day is a busy day. You have to be highly organised and disciplined just to manage a normal business day. On top of that you may have other responsibilities (like running a family or dealing with the daily jobs domestically).
So when something like a commercial dispute drops on your lap – something that’s focused on attacking you and your business and threatening all sorts of things – that would throw the average person into turmoil.
The Commercial Disputes Protocol
Every commercial dispute goes through four steps:
- 1. Contain
- 2. Manage
- 3. De-escalate
- 4. Resolve
Without this system you are open to what Chris calls a “litigation hijack”.
But if you’ve done the basic preparations, you now have a system to work with and everything that comes through won’t take you by surprise.
The problem with most business owners (myself included) is that we get caught up in the creative part of our business and we ignore the legal side. So we are talking about a sort of ignorance in not knowing what you should know…
“People in business have to understand that you have to learn how to be a good business person BEFORE you become an entrepreneur” – Chris Whitelaw
Contracts – when are they needed?
There is a big difference between people who manage SMEs and those big corporates: people in the bigger end of town would NEVER commence work without a contract.
But pay attention to defective contracts:
- they don’t read well
- the fail to state the reason of the contract
- they don’t state client’s obligations and understandings
- they don’t state the company’s obligations and understandings
A good contract will include:
- all of the above mentioned elements, clearly stated and with NO room for ambiguity
- scope of work
- core terms and conditions (these should be easily discernible, easy to see)
- a set of clauses under the heading which protects you against litigation hijack and explains what happens if the parties enter a dispute
These elements are worth their weight in GOLD. Trust me, I’ve been through this and I know what it means not to have a contract, not to have some terms and conditions clearly stated and highlighted.
At the end of the day, I am sure you’d rather have a complete contract than face litigation.