I'm a fan of The Big Bang Theory on tv. I think it is the most well-written show on tv these days, and I always get a good laugh at something on every episode. The actors are also superb at their craft, having no trouble with the sometimes complex dialogue of the script. I watched an older episode yesterday night, and it dawned on me that Sheldon, one of the main characters, can teach us a lot about business.
In the episode rerun I saw last night, Sheldon was presenting the "relationship agreement" he had drafted to Amy. This complex document - and it was certainly complex - would govern their blossoming boyfriend/girlfriend relationship, and covered such critical issues as when hand-holding would be acceptable (and since the specific times when such conduct was deemed acceptable, that tells us that it is not acceptable at all other times). And, fans of the show no doubt are also aware of the roommate agreement between Sheldon and Leonard that govern their roommate relationship and responsibilities to each other and to the apartment. Although Sheldon is a complex and interesting character, his penchant for written agreements makes him a pretty wise businessman.
Why? I'm glad you asked. It's simple. Written agreements let everyone involved know of the expected duties, responsibilities and obligations of the folks involved. Written agreements help avoid confusion. And, I think, can help avoid hurt feelings and resentment among the parties as well. Importantly, written agreements help avoid misunderstanding as to, for example, the scope of work to be performed or goods to be delivered, and the fees and costs for such goods and services. And, in relationships among partners, they can spell out each person's role and responsibilities, and also guide how the business relationship will terminate and under what circumstances.
In my view, clear written agreements are necessary in your business when services are to be provided to clients, and when goods are to be sold/delivered at a later date, among other things. Setting out the basic terms of the engagement or sale of goods, the costs and manner/date of payment can help businesses operate and hopefully reduce the need for expensive litigation and collection efforts. And, or course, whenever two or more folks go into business together, written "relationship agreements" are crucial. They might not have a section in them covering "hand holding" but they'll be full of other, important terms. Yep, we can learn a lot from the tv, sometimes.