“Hands on the wheel. Focus on traffic. Don’t get distracted if your phone buzzes — you can answer it later.”

Anyone who has recently taught a teenager to drive recited these mantras multiple times.

When we’re coaching our kids, we remember how complicated driving seemed when we started. (How early do I signal my turn? Is that person about to veer into my lane? Where are the windshield wipers?!?) When my eldest questioned whether it was even worth the effort, I insisted it was. Being in the driver’s seat is empowering. It gives us freedom and flexibility to live our life as we desire.

As business leaders, we find ourselves juggling the details of many relationships. We need to be clear about what we expect from our employees, independent contractors and vendors. We also need to make sure we’re on the same page with our clients about what they can expect from us. That means we need to make sure we are in the driver’s seat of those relationships. Being in the driver’s seat doesn’t necessarily mean we always get exactly what we want. As any adult understands, that’s completely unrealistic. Our goal is to make sure everyone is on the same page about what to expect from the relationship and that the parameters of the relationship are explained in clear, unambiguous writing.

Contracts (or Letters of Understanding, Terms & Conditions, MOAs — there are countless synonyms) are the key tool that will put you in the driver’s seat of your business. The best way to save time and money is to do two things:
1) Make sure you have a consistent process in place for reviewing contracts
2) Make sure you also have standard contracts you can rely upon that are written in plain English and clearly set the standards for your business relationships

Working through your contract process might not sound like fun, but it will probably be less work than you expect. As a matter of fact, there’s a good chance that you’ll gain helpful insights along the way that will let you spend even more time doing what you love on daily basis.

I’m one of those people who actually gets a huge kick out of exploring contracts and creating efficient contract processes. When you’re ready to get in the driver’s seat in your own business, I’d love to hear from you.

Look at it this way: When we were teenagers, going to driver’s ed class sometimes felt like drudgery. But now we wouldn’t trade the freedom of the open road for anything, would we?