A man writes a receipt after concluding a business deal. A receipt acts as proof of a transaction that the preceding steps before getting the product or service were fulfilled. PHOTO / MICHAEL KAKUMIRIZI


Striking the best business deals

What you need to know:

Many people in the gig economy shy away from business formalisation. That, sometimes, causes them to get lower pay out of backdoor negotiations.

Gigs are a sure survival mechanism for many. According to Neha Pandya, the chief operating officer Flip Africa, Africa’s “Gig Economy” is estimated at $884 billion. 

However, for many that are stepping into the business world, there are several gray areas they wish they could disappear. 
For that budding entrepreneur, the question is how they ensure their family member or friend does not use their skills only to remind them that they are family. For the skill agent, the lingering question is, “Doesn’t my contribution of linking a client to the right skill set matter? Doesn’t it deserve to be rewarded?”

Mr Sam Watasa starts the conversation by saying, “A verbal agreement is as good as the paper on which it is written on. Yes, so because there is no paper, there is no agreement and therefore, you cannot enforce anything. While some people think that goodwill is enough, what happens when it becomes bad will?”

Middle man
Even when brokering a deal, you are rendering a service which is worth payment. Therefore, Mr Watasa says you must enter into an enforceable agreement. 

“In my work of standard consumer protocol, we advise customers to get receipts. This paper is proof of a transaction and that the preceding steps (before getting the product or service) were fulfilled. In like manner, the middle-person is covered by the relevant laws (the law of agency),” he says.

Adding, “As an agent, you are going to represent someone and your representation terms, such as the price will be named in the agreement. It should also spell out what you can and cannot do on behalf of your principal.”

Agreement writing
Relying on word of mouth, Mr Watasa emphasises, does not constitute an agreement. 

“What happens in case of change of mind and opinions?  For instance, you could agree on something, then each party interprets it in their own understanding. That is why in an agreement, we must also define the terms used to get rid of varying interpretations and expectations. 

Taking the example of delivery of notices, you have to define that the notice to each party will be in writing, delivered to a particular address by electronic method,” he says.

To make an agreement even more enforceable, one could take it to a notary public officer, and it may have to be registered by the Uganda Registration Services Bureau.

Mr Watasa adds that an agreement must have a working period.
“However, you can state that it will remain open until the parties agree so or otherwise. That means you have the right to determine when the agreement will terminate,” he says. 

For those in the gig economy, Mr Michael Niyitegeka, the founder of Refactory, an IT skills hub, says the intent should be on building your skill muscle and exposure.

Looking at the example of a Master of Ceremony (MC), you will probably start off with family functions. This, Mr Niyitegeka, says is a springboard to showcase your talent, help you polish up but also get potential clientele and subsequently better your standing in the market place. Here is how to start the trade and stand out.

Learn the dynamics
In the beginning season, understand the trade. In the case of an MC, it would be how to control the crowd, crowd variation, among others. Look out for those that have gone ahead of you and learn. 

“Your knowledge improves your worth. So the drive is to look for that person who will comfortably take away $5,000 (Shs19m) a day for hosting an event. What do they do different? Pick those lessons,” he says. That includes taking a course to know more.

Position yourself
 While you blossom to a great crowd mover in a bankers’ event, you might not do the same in a political event. With knowledge about your strength, Mr Niyitegeka says, you sink your nails into it. 

“That also means that if someone asked you to MC an event where you are uncomfortable, ask a colleague in the field to take it up. It will save you the embarrassment and keeps your image intact,” he says. 

Put in the work
After finding your footing, put in the hours to solidify your stand in the industry. “With this, you will have gained knowledge on pricing, hence set a standard fee as you know your worth,” he says.

That means learning how to negotiate, which entails asking critical questions such as what is needed of you. For instance, if you are asked to be part of a project as a consultant, you need to find out if you are there as an expert or crowd puller.

Partnerships: As you grow your trade, Mr Niyitegeka advises that you consider partnerships with others above you. That will raise you through the ranks faster.

Many people in the gig economy shy away from business formalisation. That, sometimes, causes them to get lower pay out of backdoor negotiations.
However, Mr Niyitegeka says it does not cost much to register a business name. 

“It does not have to be a company; just a business name, which you use to get a tax identification number,” he says.


 Others shy away from clients that want tax invoices but he says, “The tax should then be factored in when setting the final price.” 

Dealing with family and friends
Despite all the grounding, conversations about agreements among friends and family remain sticky as some believe they are as good as their word. Unfortunately, regarding money matters, many have promised and never fulfilled. Mr Watasa says, the idea is, “If you and I trust each other well enough, there is no reason why we would fear to enter into a written agreement. The moment people are not willing to document what they are talking about, that is a point of departure,” he says.

Regardless of whether one is a family member or friend, the moment they put in time to do something for you, their time is worth remunerating.