As a business, signing documents is an essential workflow for operation. Knowing which documents you might need is crucial to avoiding issues of legality.
In this article, we’ll show you 20+ different types of business documents your team might need.
We’ll discuss business documents for:
- Organization & Operations
- Sales & Marketing
By the end of this article, you’ll know exactly which documents your business needs.
Let’s get started.
What Are Business Documents?
A business document is a catch-all term for any document that relates to the operation of an existing business. This can encompass anything from business plans and business structure documents to employee contracts, income statements, and even content calendars.
Business documents can come in many forms, such as paper or electronic, and serve a variety of purposes. Some documents are created for issues of legality and compliance, while others exist to help a business operate more effectively and efficiently.
Types of Business Documents: 20+ Important Business Document Examples
Below, you’ll find 20+ important business documents. We’ve categorized them into groups based on which aspect of a business they relate to.
Organization & Operations
We’ve listed 9 different organization and operation documents below. These will help you structure your business and increase workflow efficiency.
A business plan is a document that states the goals of a business and outlines how to achieve these goals. More specifically, a business plan covers a variety of topics, potentially including:
- Product/service analysis
- Market analysis
- Risk assessment
- Sales forecasting and budgeting
- Sales and marketing
Having a business plan will help your organization remain organized, making it more likely to succeed. The document will provide a timeline to ensure that milestones, forecasting, and budgeting are on track.
You’ll also need a plan if you wish to gain access to various loans, grants, and investors. A business plan will give these parties (such as banks or venture capitalists) confidence about whether or not you can make a return on their investment.
Business reports are documents that provide information and analysis into a business’s operation. It might entail the entire organization or just one specific workflow/department.
The aim of a business report is much like a case study—to identify a problem and provide a solution. Businesses will use these reports to find bottlenecks and inefficiencies and to improve overall operational efficiency.
Typically, a business report will include:
- An executive summary: similar to an abstract that provides cliff notes.
- An introduction: sets the stage for what the report will address.
- A body: dives deep into the problem, providing data and findings.
- A conclusion: addresses how the findings should be interpreted and provides potential solutions.
- References: a list of any potential resources/data referenced in the report.
- An appendix: provides extra contextual information not included in the report.
Business reports are useful to have because they provide valuable insight into the operation of your business. They will uncover any shortfalls/bottlenecks and suggest practical solutions.
They also provide you with a clear audit trail, which makes acquiring investments, grants, and loans easier.
Company bylaws are documents that establish how an organization will operate, outlining how it should best be run. They’re typically drafted by the founders or a board of directors/ownership group.
A company bylaw will generally include basic identifying information such as the business name, address, and location. It will state whether the company is public or private and include its fiscal year period.
More extensive bylaws will also include shareholder and ownership group issues.
Depending on the structure of your business, it might be required by law for you to have a company bylaw. Having one could also organize and structure your team better so everyone is on the same page and everyone knows their roles and what is expected of them.
A partnership agreement is a legally binding contract between two or more partners that defines ownership/stake and role. More specifically, it outlines:
- Percentage of ownership
- Distribution of profits/losses
- Management power/role
- Length of the partnership
- Termination options
- Buyout options
Partnership agreements are created when partnerships begin and aim to provide solutions to every potential scenario that could occur. What happens if there’s a falling out? What if one partner wants to sell their ownership? The written agreement covers these situations.
There are a host of reasons why you should have a partnership agreement in place. Firstly, it helps you clearly define the roles and expectations of all parties in the partnership. It also provides legal, tax, and liability protection.
LLC Operating Agreement
An LLC operating agreement is a legal document that details all ownership members, defining their rights and responsibilities. It also provides insight into the internal operation of the organization.
LLC operating agreements can vary, but they’ll generally cover:
- Organization: when the LLC was created, who the members are, and the structure of the ownership.
- Management: who has the authority and manages the operation of the LLC.
- Voting: how the members choose to make decisions regarding the business.
- Capital contributions: which of the members have invested the most into the LLC.
- Distributions: how the profits and losses of the LLC are distributed among the members.
- Membership changes: the process of adding or removing members.
- Dissolution: the process for dissolving the LLC.
If your business is an LLC you’ll likely be legally required to have an LLC operating agreement. Even if it isn’t required in your state/country, it’s still highly advised. The document will help avoid any confusion among your members. It may also help provide legal protection.
A non-compete agreement is a contract that employers use to make sure their employees don’t join a competitor. These are legal documents that aim to protect employers from corporate espionage.
The contract will include a non-compete definition, which outlines the terms of the agreement. There’ll also be a “length of clause,” which states how long the non-compete agreement is valid.
A non-compete agreement is a great thing to have if you have to hire and extensively train employees. It will protect you from any of your workers defecting, taking valuable business secrets with them to competitors.
Signaturely offers a free Non-Compete Agreement template. We’ve worked with legal experts and proofreaders to ensure it covers everything.
Simply download the document in either Word or PDF, then fill out the boxes.
Terms of Service
A Terms of Service is a legal document that outlines rules one must follow when using a product or service. This not only includes the rights and responsibilities of the user but issues of liability as well.
More specifically, a Terms of Service generally includes:
- Definitions: identifying the terms used throughout the document.
- Description of allowable use: how you intend your product or service to be used.
- Disclaimer and liability: an outline for disclaimers, responsibility, and liabilities.
Having a Terms of Service agreement is important because it ensures that your product or service is used correctly. That is, in the manner for which you intended. Terms of Service documents are legally binding, protecting you from all potential and possible liabilities.
The document will specifically outline actions regarding collect, store, protect, and utilize sensitive personal information.
- Date of birth
- Phone number
- Email address
- Financial/credit information
- Medical history
- Use of website cookies
Bonus if you work with agencies: Agency Agreement
An Agency Agreement is a legal contract that allows a party to act on behalf of another. It outlines the terms and conditions of the relationship, detailing what they are authorized to do.
Agency Agreements are typically used by businesses outsourcing some of their workloads to an agency. Some examples might include:
- An eCommerce brand having its digital marketing operated by a digital marketing agency.
- People hiring a real estate agent to sell their property.
- A professional sports star using an agent to help them get a new contract.
The contract will cover a variety of issues, including:
- Services: what is the agency doing for the business.
- Compensation: how much is the agency being paid.
- Confidentiality: how sensitive information will be protected.
- Termination: what will happen once the job is completed or if the partnership dissolves.
If your business requires you to outsource some of your workflows, you’ll definitely need Agency Agreements. Having an Agency Agreement helps to clearly define the deliverables, payables, and appropriate course of action for all circumstances.
Signaturely offers a free Agency Agreement template. We’ve worked with lawyers and proofreaders to ensure it addresses everything you need.
You can download the document in either PDF or Word format. After doing that, it’s simply a matter of filling in the blanks.
The finance of your business is really important, which is why we’ve listed 5 crucial documents below.
An income statement measures how much profit or loss a business generates. It tracks total revenue as well as accrued expenses. It is an essential financial document that tells you how profitable an organization is.
Every business needs income statements—even a not-for-profit. They’re not legally required per se, but if you want to receive investments, loans, and grants, you’ll need them. Having an income statement is a good business practice as they help you run your operation effectively and efficiently.
A balance sheet outlines an organization’s assets, liabilities, and equity at a specific time. It’s a snapshot that identifies what a business owns and what it owes. It’s one of the basic financial documents most, if not all, businesses possess.
Like an income statement, you’ll need a balance sheet if you want to acquire investments, loans, and grants. This document helps these parties assess you financially, giving them an accurate picture of your business. This lets them know how likely it is you can return on their investment.
A balance sheet can also give you valuable insights that will help you run your company better. It can tell you the liquidity and efficiency of your business as well as how much leverage you have.
Cash Flow Statement
A cash flow statement details how much cash enters and leaves a business over a given period of time. They’re used to measure how effective a business is at paying bills in the short term. The cash comes from, and is categorized as either:
- Operating: revenue for selling of products/services.
- Investing: profits and losses from any and all potential business assets.
- Financial: money that’s external to the business, such as loans or investments.
Like income statements and balance sheets, cash flow statements are essential financial documents. If you want any chance at getting investments, loans, and grants, you’ll need them.
Having cash flow statements is also a good business practice. They can help you identify bottlenecks that could influence your ability to pay debts/expenses.
Budget reports are used to compare an organization’s projected forecast with its actual performance over a given period of time. They’re used as a way to assess whether or not a business is on track in regards to its own predictions.
Why do you need budget reports? It’s simple—they allow you to actively make necessary adjustments to your operation. They can help you identify unnecessary expenditures that may be measurably influencing your bottom line.
If you’re also seeking investors, loans from banks, and even grants, you’ll need to have budget reports. Budget reports let these parties assess how their investment is going.
A payment agreement is a legally binding contract that outlines payment terms between a lender and payer. The document will cover how much is owed, the payment plan, and termination issues. The lender can be anyone—a business, bank, or even an individual.
If you plan on acquiring investments, loans, or grants, you’ll be completing payment agreements. If you happen to invest in another business or individual, you’ll also need these forms.
Signaturely offers a free Payment Agreement template, assembled with the help of legal experts and proofreaders.
The template covers everything; all you have to do is complete the empty boxes.
The larger your company grows, the more important and influential HR is going to become. Below are 6 different documents you’ll need.
Employment Contract Agreement
Employment contract agreements are legally binding contracts between an employer and an employee. The document outlines the terms and conditions of the employment, stating deliverables, hours, pay, and benefits.
If you’re more than just a sole trader, you’re going to be hiring people. This means you’ll need employment contract agreements. Without having a legally binding contract in place, both parties could be at risk.
A contract agreement protects employers from a worker who doesn’t perform their expected responsibilities. It also protects the employee from being exploited and not getting paid.
Signaturely has a free Employment Contract Agreement template. It’ll make growing your team easy.
It was assembled with the help of legal experts and proofreaders.
Contractor proposals—also known as construction proposals—are documents that contractors use to apply for a job. It allows them to pitch their services, outlining their skills, experience, and price.
These proposals are necessary for the construction and building industry because of their complex nature. A project will require a variety of different skill sets, which you’d never find in one sole provider.
Contractor proposals are necessary to have because most construction jobs require them. If you want your business to secure contracts, you’ll need them.
They also provide a way for you to market your services, as opposed to just giving a quote. This gives you an advantage over the competition.
Signaturely offers an awesome free Contractor Proposal template that makes it easy to apply for construction contracts.
We sought the expertise of legal advisers and proofreaders to ensure it’s rock solid. You can download it in either Word or PDF format.
A subcontractor agreement is a legal contract that defines a working relationship between a business and a subcontractor. These types of agreements are most typically found in building and construction but also exist in other industries.
A typical subcontractor agreement will include:
- Services provided: what the subcontractor will do for the business.
- Price/compensation: how much the business will pay the subcontractor.
- Timeline: when the job will commence and end.
If you’re a business that outsources some of your operations to subcontractors, you’ll need this document. It’ll give you legal protection in case the hired individual doesn’t complete the required work.
Signaturely has an epic free Subcontractor Agreement template that ensures the outsourcing of your workflows will be painless.
Legal experts and proofreaders helped design this template, which can be downloaded in PDF and Word format.
A non-disclosure agreement—NDA for short—is a contract that legally enforces a party to not disclose information. This information is usually specific and sensitive in nature, such as the inner workings of a business’s operation.
Non-disclosure agreements are necessary for your business because people can’t be trusted. Your organization’s secrets can and will get leaked by those with loose lips. An NDA will provide you with legal protection to ensure that doesn’t happen.
Think you might need an NDA? Signaturely offers a free Non-Disclosure Agreement template to secure your organization’s sensitive information.
This template is available in Word and PDF format.
Work For Hire Agreement
A work for hire agreement is a legal contract that details work provided by a freelancer/hired talent/service provider. They’re used in all sorts of industries like creative, tech, and business. The contract covers the terms and conditions of the arrangement, which includes:
- Services provided: what the hired individual does for the business.
- Pricing: how much the completed work will cost.
- Ownership/rights: who owns the rights to the work done.
- Confidentiality: what can and cannot be disclosed.
If any of your operation’s workflow is outsourced, you’ll definitely need to use work for hire agreements. They’ll ensure you’re legally protected in the instance the contract is not honored or terminated.
Think you’ll be using work for hire agreements? Signaturely has a free Work For Hire Agreement template to protect your business in the event that something happens.
The template was created with the help of proofreaders and legal experts, so it’s completely legitimate.
Internship contracts legally outline the relationship between a business and an intern hired. The contract will specifically detail:
- How much the intern is paid/compensated
- What the required working hours are
- How the contract is and can be terminated
- The result of contract termination
- Confidentiality clauses
Businesses hire interns to test out new graduates, letting them see if they’re worth hiring for long-term work. It’s a risk-averse way to find new, fresh talent in the marketplace.
As a business, you should definitely take advantage of interns. They provide you a legal way to try out new employees without committing too much. The internship contracts will also cover you legally.
Thinking about hiring interns? Use Signaturely’s free Internship Contract template—it covers everything you need.
Downloadable in Word or PDF formats.
Sales & Marketing
Sales and marketing are really important for a business—it’s how you actually generate revenue. Without these two elements, even the best product will go nowhere. That’s why we’ve listed 4 important documents you must have.
A marketing plan is a document that outlines an organization’s marketing activities for the future. It’s a map that helps you organize and execute various strategies to promote your business.
A marketing plan generally includes:
- Team assignment and workflow information
- Buyer personas
- An analysis of your competition
- An audit of your current content
Having a marketing plan will help you remain organized and scheduled so you’ll be primed to execute your marketing strategies. It also will be viewable by every team member and department, ensuring everyone is on the same page.
Content calendars—also known as editorial calendars—are planned schedules of your content publishing efforts. Or in other words, it’s a schedule of when you plan to publish blog posts, social media posts, YouTube videos, and emails—any and all content.
The calendar will outline content types, a publish date, and a live URL once posted. They cover all content channels available.
A content calendar is a great document to have as it keeps you organized, structured, and consistent. You need to be consistently putting out great content in order to market and sell your product or service. A calendar will also keep your whole team on the same page—transparency is key.
A pitch deck is a presentation that outlines your company, its products and services, and business plan. Typically it’s a small 10–20 slideshow. It’s used as a tool to entice and attract investors and encourage partners as well as customers.
If you’re looking to get investments to support the growth of your business, you should definitely have a pitch deck. It’ll help persuade and convince them to commit to your business. It can also be used as a form of PR to boost morale and confidence.
Signaturely offers a variety of free sales and marketing templates you might need.
SEO Proposal Template
The free SEO Proposal template allows you to pitch your SEO services to a client, highlighting your skills and experience. The document includes:
- Project details
- Case studies
If you run a business that provides SEO services, having a high-quality proposal is so important. SEO is very confusing for potential clients—the easier you make it to understand for them, the better.
Website Design Proposal Template
Are you a website builder or developer? If so, the free Website Design Proposal template is for you.
This proposal template includes:
- A cover letter
- Services provided
Having a really solid proposal is key to securing more—and better—contracts as a website designer/developer.
Video Production Proposal Template
Do you run a video production agency? You might be interested in the free Video Production Proposal template. It covers basic information about who you are and what you do. It’s a way for you to communicate what services you can offer potential clients.
The proposal template includes:
- A services section
- Case studies
A proposal to prospective clients is a surefire way to gain more high-quality clients for your video production agency.
Consulting Agreement Template
The free Consulting Agreement template will provide a way for you to effectively monetize your services as a consultant. It’s a legally binding contract that’s designed with the help of legal experts and proofreaders.
The agreement template covers:
- Services provided
- Payment details/schedule
As a consultant, your expertise, experience, and knowledge are highly valuable. Ensuring you use a legally binding consulting agreement contract will protect you from a client withholding payment.
Business Documents FAQ
Do you have any questions regarding business documents? We’ll cover some frequently asked questions below.
How Do You Sign Business Documents Online? (Signaturely)
Signaturely allows you to sign business documents online effortlessly. You can use pre-made templates—there’s a huge library of them. You can find just about every sort of contract, proposal, or agreement you can think of.
You can also create your own personal signature, which can be typed or signed by hand. This is automatically added to every document you create. The digital signature is 100% legitimate and legally binding.
If you need multiple signers for a document, you can do that too. The contract will be sent to their email, where they can sign it directly.
How Long Should You Keep Business Documents?
It depends on the document.
For financial, organization, HR, and operational documents, you should keep them permanently.
These documents will help you when you have to pay taxes, as well as avoid problems with the government/IRS.
Other documents, like those used for sales and marketing, are less important. However, it still can be useful to keep them.
What Is the Appropriate Stationery for Business Documents?
If you’re using a paper-based system for your business document workflow, you’ll need appropriate stationery. This will include paper, printer ink, and maintenance of a printer.
If you use an e-signature software like Signaturely, you don’t need to spend money on these expenses.
What Legal Documents Are Needed to Start a Small Business?
The legal documents you need to start a small business can vary, depending on the nature of your business.
For example, the structure of your business influences the documents you require. If you’re an LLC, you’ll obviously need an LLC operating agreement as well as an article of organization. Make sure to enquire about the legal documents you need for your business structure.
The industry and nature of your business also affect which documents you’ll need. You might require licenses and permits.
This article covered 20+ types of business documents you and your team might need.
When it comes to running a business, signing documents is an important way to legally protect your organization. Knowing which documents could benefit your business is important.
Got any questions? Leave us a comment. We’d love to hear from our readers.