Basically, I have to send my proposal to a company tomorrow. If they choose to accept, I would have them send me all the documents, related materials, the initial 50%($), etc etc...Since all of this will be going on from afar -- what's a good time to present them with my contract?
For issues of professional service agreements and non-disclosure agreements, I recommend you wait until these docs are fully executed before taking possession of documents or beginnning the project.
This gives you some way to protect yourself against the dreaded project-scope expansion and timeframe reduction. Additionally, it protects you from surprises such as "standard" non-competitive clauses that could injure your business.
It's often really tempting to dive into the project and start working on it as soon as they say yes. (You're excited and you don't want to give them a chance to change their minds :)) However, when it comes to contracts, be patient and wait until they're executed. Depending on the size of the client, you may need to wait for the docs to be reviewed by their legal department. However, you will save yourself many many headaches. :)
Thanks so much for the good advice, and I will live by that kind of reasoning...
One more question though. I have little experience with 'feeling out' how long a project might take to complete. I would hate to say X days when really it might take XX days :: lol.
Any very rough ideas on this? Say a regular HTML site about 8-12 pages long or so. In the business world, what is too little or too much time. I realize it depends upon the company sometimes (actually getting the materials to work), also many of you can pound out sites like 8-12 pages in a day or two...but on a not-so-complex site would 30 days sound about insane?
To each his own is not gonna work here though;) -- there must be some experiences that give a little insight...