What to do if a client refuses to sign a contract

handshake-male-female-webWhen doing business with someone, it’s standard practice to have a contract or some kind of agreement in place. Whether you’re hiring someone to paint your house or someone is hiring you for your business expertise, the agreement outlines what services are being provided, at what cost, and within what timeframe.

Even if nothing ever happens that results in legal action, the contract is designed to protect both parties and ensure that the expectations are clearly spelled out. It protects the other person as much as it does you.

So, what happens when one party refuses to sign the agreement?

I recently had this happen with a client I’ll call Samantha. She purchased and paid for two one hour consulting calls with me. During the second call, she asked “Where do we go from here?” She didn’t really know what kind of PR services she needed, but her business was suffering from lack of exposure and wasn’t bringing in the kind of revenue she wanted, so we talked about a couple of options that worked within her budget and were designed to get her the results she was looking for.

A few days later, I sent her a letter of agreement that outlined what we talked about and asked her to sign it so we could get started.

She responded with an email that said “I will NOT sign any contract. This is not in my best interest as I believe business evolves and I choose to remain flexible.”

I was curious how other business owners would handle this, so I asked several trusted sources in my networking groups what they would do if someone adamantly refused to sign a contract under any circumstances. Some of the responses:

“Contract. Always! Otherwise, there is no documentation as to the project scope, terms, and other details. And that can lead to big headaches – and loss of sanity as well as money!

“Contract, because business evolves and you have to know what you’re mutually agreeing to do!

“Contract all the way. Cancellation clause all the way. If she wants flexibility’ then that’s what change orders are for.”

Katie Krimitsos, of the hugely successful Biz Women Rock community and podcast series, says if someone is adamantly refusing to sign a contract, it’s time to WALK AWAY!

I’m all for “flexible” contracts and working with someone, but it’s a huge red flag if they’re totally against it,” says Krimitsos.

When you are working with your ideal client, s/he not only appreciates you and inspires you to do your best work, but s/he also respects that this is business, and both are too precious  to compromise.

What do you think? Let me know in the comments.

Thank you for sharing this space with me.


Robin Taney, (aka the “Get R.E.A.L Girl”) is the owner and founder of Studio 4 PR.  She works with creative, independent, and “kitchen table” entrepreneurs who are highly motivated to be found by their perfect client. You can connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest, and sign up for mailing list  You are welcome to use this post on your blog, provided you do not alter it in any way and include a link to this blog.

Robin is also a co-author of the bestselling book, Navigating Entrepreneurship: Secrets to Put You on an Unstoppable Course, which hit #1 in Hot New Releases less than 12 hours after launching on Amazon.


2 thoughts on “What to do if a client refuses to sign a contract

  1. Great article! I absolutely agree, you need to have some kind of mutual contract in place. This document should clearly spell out the expectations, deliverables and time frames of any projects. Never hurry to complete a project without something in writing between you. This is how miscommunications start…

    1. That’s so true, Karen! It’s a shame that some business people actually take offense to being asked to sign a contract. They don’t realize that it’s for their own protection as well. Thanks for commenting! Robin

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