How do I negotiate a contract for my start-up or small business?

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As start-ups begin to grow and expand, they will inevitably be faced with the need to negotiate and enter into contracts with a variety of parties. These may include suppliers, vendors, employees, investors, and customers. It is important for start-up founders to understand the key contractual provisions that should be considered when negotiating these agreements to ensure that they are protected and that their interests are represented. In this blog post, we will discuss common contractual provisions that start-up founders should consider when negotiating contracts.

Scope of Services

The scope of services provision is a critical part of any contract as it outlines the specific work to be performed by the parties involved. Start-up founders should carefully review and negotiate this provision to ensure that it accurately reflects the work to be performed and that it is sufficiently detailed to avoid any misunderstandings or disputes.

Payment Terms

Payment terms are another important provision that start-up founders should carefully consider when negotiating contracts. This provision should specify the payment amount, payment schedule, and any penalties for late payment. It is important to ensure that payment terms are fair and reasonable for both parties.


The termination provision is also an important consideration when negotiating contracts. This provision outlines the circumstances under which either party may terminate the contract, and the process that must be followed to do so. Start-up founders should ensure that this provision includes clear language on how to terminate the contract and any consequences that may result from termination.


The confidentiality provision is critical for protecting sensitive information and trade secrets. This provision should specify what information is considered confidential, how it must be protected, and the consequences of a breach of confidentiality. Start-up founders should ensure that this provision is tailored to their specific needs and that it provides adequate protection for their confidential information.

Intellectual Property

The intellectual property provision is also critical for start-ups, as it outlines who owns the intellectual property created during the performance of the contract. This provision should specify whether the start-up or the other party retains ownership of any intellectual property created, and any limitations on the use of that intellectual property.

Limitation of Liability

The limitation of liability provision is important to protect start-ups from potential damages resulting from breaches of contract or other issues. This provision should specify the maximum amount of damages that either party can recover in the event of a breach, and any limitations on the types of damages that can be recovered.

Dispute Resolution

The dispute resolution provision outlines the process for resolving any disputes that may arise between the parties. This provision should specify whether disputes will be resolved through mediation, arbitration, or litigation, and any limitations on the damages that can be recovered.


In conclusion, start-up founders should carefully consider the key contractual provisions when negotiating contracts with suppliers, vendors, employees, investors, and customers. By focusing on the scope of services, payment terms, termination, confidentiality, intellectual property, limitation of liability, and dispute resolution provisions, start-up founders can ensure that they are protected and that their interests are represented in any contract negotiations. It is important to work with experienced attorneys who can help navigate these complex issues and ensure that the contracts are tailored to the specific needs of the start-up.

Next Steps

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Meet Chad

/Southwest Florida Attorney and CPA

I am an attorney and Certified Public Accountant serving Southwest Florida.

Previously, I served in operations and finance with the world’s largest accounting firm (PricewaterhouseCoopers), airline (American Airlines), and bank (JPMorgan Chase & Co.). I have also created and advised a variety of start-up ventures.

I am a member of The Florida Bar, and I hold active CPA licensure in Florida and Texas and undergraduate and graduate degrees in accounting and taxation from Southern Methodist University in Dallas.

My practice emphasizes, but is not limited to, the law as it intersects small businesses and their owners. I also assist clients with insurance claims, estate planning, and other legal matters on an ad hoc basis. I live and work in Naples, Florida.

If I can be of assistance, please email me at or click here to set up a free meeting.

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