Many small business owners rely on so-called handshake business agreements and, as long as everyone’s happy, these kind of agreements can work well. After all, your agreement doesn’t need to be in writing to be valid. However, when you and the other party begin to not see eye-to-eye on things, written agreements can really help the sort out the conflict.

Here are some relationships you want to be sure to document with written agreements:

Your Partner / Co-owner – It is very important for those in business with one or more other people to have a partnership or shareholder agreement. The agreement needs to address issues like what will happen when a partner wants to leave the company, when one dies, or when one partner wants to buy another partner out.

Employees & Independent Contractors – Your employment and independent contractor agreements need to address their duties, compensation, confidentiality matters, intellectual property, and company policies.

Clients / Customers – Your relationship clients / customers should be governed by a written contract or by the Terms & Conditions of the product or service they purchase from you.