I recently contacted someone with whom I, briefly, shared an office, more than 25 years ago, to find out whether she'd be willing to pay me a finder's fee for referring good candidates to her. She said that she would. When I told her that I'd write an agreement regarding our orally agreed-upon business arrangement, she became defensive and said, "Don't you trust me?" To assure her that my wanting to get our agreement in writing was no reflection on her, I told her that this is the way that I do business and that I can count on one hand the number of people I trust. A red flag went up, immediately, as people who don't want to sign agreements frequently don't want to be accountable. I emailed the woman the agreement. It was a straightforward, simple, one-page agreement. Days went by and I still hadn't received a signed copy back from her.
When I told the woman that I needed to get back to my client, she promised me that she'd sign the agreement and send it back to me that Saturday. On Saturday, I received an email from her telling me that I'd have the signed agreement in my hands by that night. I didn't. The next morning, I asked her about it and she balked, again, about having to sign an agreement and made a lame excuse as to why she couldn't send it to me on the day that she had promised to do so.
As you can imagine, I decided not to do business with her as she was behaving as if she were doing me a favor when, in reality, we would have been doing each other a favor and I found her behavior to be disrespectful of me.
The takeaway, here, is as follows: (1) a business agreement should always be in writing (2) tread carefully if a business person balks about having a written agreement (3) if you feel as if a business person isn't treating you respectfully and/or is jerking you around, you're better off not doing business with that person.
No matter how long you know someone, you should still treat that person with respect. This woman's questionable treatment of me didn't bode well for how she would have treated my clients. I can't and won't refer my clients to business people who are disrespectful and/or untrustworthy and neither should you.