Bert Markgraf reports:
"When you write a business contract the key is to include all the necessary elements to make it binding and legal. You and your contractual partner must indicate that you are in agreement, and both parties have to execute the agreement as described in the contract. Unless there are complicated issues, the elements making up such a contract can fit on a single page...You must identify the parties bound by the contract. For business contracts, you have to specify the legal name of an incorporated business or the registered name of [a sole] proprietorship. If the business is not registered, the owner is contracting under his own name. In addition to business names, it's good practice to add the contact information for each business to indicate where the contractual partners can address formal correspondence affecting the contract...Each contract has a purpose. The contract may be a simple supply contract, where one business sells material to another that needs it. It can also be more complicated, as for a consulting contract where a business is looking for help in achieving a specified result. The part of the one-page contract specifying the purpose describes the current situation and details how the contract will help resolve the issues at hand. This part of the one-page contract can be a single line, or a paragraph of a dozen or so lines...The heart of the contract is an exchange of something that has value in return for a consideration of value. Usually a contract is between a supplier who receives payment, but the contract can also specify a trade or other exchange. The contract has to detail what the partners will exchange, when they will exchange it, and what the consideration in return will be, typically the price. In a separate paragraph, the contract has to indicate what will happen if the exchange doesn't take place as planned. It might say that the contract is void, that the supplier has to pay a penalty, or that the supplier may delay the supply...A contract is only legal if the parties identified in the contract signify that they agree to its terms. Placing the names of the parties at the end of the single page and having authorized representatives of the businesses sign to indicate their agreement makes the contract legally binding. The signatures have three parts. The signature itself has to be handwritten. The date of the signature has to be indicated, and having it handwritten as well supports its authenticity. For business contracts, the title of the person signing is important because the title indicates that the signatory has the authority to sign. This is clear if the title is 'President,' but if the title is that of a low-level employee, you may want to verify with the company that he has signing authority."
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