‘Jargon – Free Contract’ Boils Down What An Agreement Really Is

I like this ‘jargon free contract‘ I saw recently from Boingboing.net, which I copy here:

You give me money, I’ll give you creative.
I’ll start when the check clears.
Time is money. More time is more money.
I’ll listen to you. You listen to me.
You tell me what you want, I’ll tell you what you need.
You want me to be on time, I want you to be on time.
What you use is yours, what you don’t is mine.
I can’t give you stuff I don’t own.
I’ll try not to be an ass, you should do the same.
If you want something that’s been done before, use that.
PRO BONO
If you want your way, you have to pay.
If you don’t pay, I have final say.
Let’s create something great together.

It’s enjoyable because for the most part this boils down my own experiences as a Consultant and Freelancer and more importantly how it relates to expectations while executing work.

This is obviously meant to be a contract between a creative person and their client, but there are two lines here that strike me most. The first is ‘You want me to be on time, I want you to be on time‘. It specifically strikes to the core the disappointment and shock whenever a client takes 30 or more days to pay – a very common situation with even small companies.

I had since adjusted expectations and have learned to live with it, but it certainly doesn’t mean I agree with it. I’ve been told to be ‘reasonable’, as there are many procedures that have to do with availability of signatories, internal protocols and all the hoops that require jumping through to have a check signed. But to my mind, a deal is a deal.

Consultants and freelancers are rushed to meet difficult deadlines often with the fact being made crystal clear that existing and potential contracts are contingent on the provision of super human effort. It therefore stands to reason that when it’s time to pay them they deserve no less. In fact, less is a slap in the face, as if to say ‘We appreciate what you did, but we still don’t think we’ll pay you right away.’

The second line I like more than all of that is ‘Let’s create something great together.’

I have taken on one or two ambitious projects requiring much planning and effort whose potential for success were motivation in itself. Some have worked out but some not so much, and I tend to dwell on these. It may have been because it was too ambitious. More often the client either lost interest, internal politics came into play, or some non – related reason prevailed, but it just did not pan out. And it frustrates me.

Of course I had been paid in full. I’ve been in the game long enough to protect against that. But an effort that does not come into the fruition you envisioned can be frustrating. I wanted it to push through. I wanted the people it would affect to enjoy its benefits. I cared.

Companies would do well to understand that while the very nature of their jobs may appear transient and mercenary, Consultants and Freelancers are able to commit and put forth effort equal to if not more than someone in house. It may not always be the case. It might not even make sense, considering these are ‘outsiders’ and therefore unlikely to care more than they are paid.

However, it is possible, and so Companies should welcome this potential and adjust accordingly. Effort justifiably begets payment. Enthusiastic, inspired, motivated effort begets reward.

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