You will enter into contractual relationships, both long and short term, with suppliers and contractors on a regular basis. You may be able to govern some of these terms, and you may be commercially forced to accept others, but either way it is important that you understand your rights and liabilities in respect of each agreement and that you incorporate, where possible, relevant protections to reduce your exposure to risk.

It is likely that suppliers and contractors will put forward their own standard terms of business. However, these will typically favour the supplier/contractor and you should not be afraid to negotiate, especially if the contract will govern a long term relationship between you.

As unappealing as small print may be, when considering any contract you should pay particular attention to the duration of the contract and your rights to terminate the contract. How much notice must you give? What charges will be made if you want to get out of the contract early? You should also make sure that you know how and when you are expected to pay for the goods and what charges will be made if you are late with payments. It is also important to read the terms carefully so you know what recourse you have if the goods or services supplied to you are not up to standard. In this day and age it is also necessary to be cautious about paying large deposits for goods before you receive them as you will have little protection if the supplier is to be made bankrupt before you receive delivery.

Paying particular attention to the terms and conditions will ensure you know the full extent of your contractual obligations and rights; reducing any nasty surprises later down the line.