One of the more challenging tasks for any new business owner is understanding the contracts that they inevitably have to create and sign on a regular basis. And sure you can hire a lawyer to do all these tasks for you, and though responsible it will prove expensive. So here is a quick short checklist for the most important things that need to be in every useful contract. Before starting it would be good to understand that the purpose of a contract is to create enforceable penalties for non performance. So when writing (or reading a contract), make sure to do it from this perspective. 1. Names of parties. --- Be sure that each party to the agreement is clearly identifiable to someone that do not know them. Name, address, even ID or SIN numbers could be handy, and for businesses the business legal name, address and number could be added. 2. Performance. --- Clearly define who needs to do what, where and by when. Remember deadlines and locations are important to measure performance. 3. Penalties for non performance. --- This is the most important aspect of any agreement as an agreement without these are completely meaningless and pointless. 4. Effective and Termination date. --- Be sure not to end up with open ended agreements. Have a start and end date, as well as a means for terminating the agreement in the mean time, should this be necessary. (e.g termination could also be a penalty for non performance) 5. Signature. --- To enforce an agreement you need some evidence that the parties did in fact agree to uphold the terms of the agreement. Witnessed (or executed) signatures are often prove very helpful for this purpose. Remember also that you cannot enforce a performance that is illegal, so agreeing with someone that they should steal something for you, will not work. There are many other aspects, and if you are uncertain, it may be of value for your to retain the services of a lawyer. And for the sake of stating the obvious, make sure you read, and understand every agreement before you sign it. Not doing so will cost you for sure... Wish you all the best with your ventures Cheers!!