You may have started out in business as you had a great idea or just felt it was time to do something for yourself. Now you are in it, you realise it is not that easy. After you have settled on your logo, your brand name and perhaps designed some business cards or launched a website, it’s time for the boring stuff – your terms of trade.
This part of the journey is usually completed averagely, at best. Most terms of trade are snatched off someone else’s website, copied and pasted and continually added to, to ensure they cover every possible legal angle. Sound familiar?
Your `Terms of Trade’ or better described as `Terms of Engagement’ should reflect how you intend to deal with your clients, customers, and suppliers. It goes to the heart of your brand. Of course, it is a legal document and should cover off technical matters, but it should also reflect the style in which you wish to run your business. For example, an element of doubt could cloud the relationship, if the terms are one-sided in your favour. A warning bell may be sounded if you state that you want all fees upfront with no ability to cancel. A document with a lot of legal jargon and big words could also be contradictory to the style of business you are trying to create.
Despite all best intentions of how you want to deal with your clients, New Zealand has a multitude of consumer protection and fair trading laws that provide a base line of warranties and guarantees that is inherent in the goods or services that you provide. There are plenty of useful resources on government websites outlining your obligations under the Consumer Guarantees Act and the Fair Trading Act. The Consumer Protection website is always a good starting point https://www.consumerprotection.govt.nz/guidance-for-businesses/complying-with-consumer-laws/. After this, you could head over to the Commerce Commission.
As Jonah Sachs, award winning author, recounts – “Your brand is a story unfolding across all customer touch points”. Therefore, your Terms of Engagement need to embrace this ethos and be crafted to authentically reflect your story.