The online coaching market is a multi billion dollar industry, and is growing FAST. One of the biggest appeals is the lack of regulation or education requirements – anyone can start a coaching business, call themselves a coach, and offer packages and programs to help others solve problems and improve their lives.
But one thing some entrepreneurs and coaches forget, is that while the coaching industry is largely unregulated, the BUSINESS industry is very regulated…and as a business owner, there are certain laws and regulations that MUST be followed, in order to avoid lawsuits, fines, and other legal hot water.
Here are my top 3 MUSTS to make sure your coaching business is operating above board:
- USE YOUR OWN COACHING CLIENT AGREEMENT
When you’re first starting out as a coach, you may not want to spend thousands of dollars hiring a lawyer to draft a client agreement for you…but you aren’t sure where to get one, or what it needs to have in it. (Or whether or not you even need one??) For many new coaches, this results in Googling “coaching contracts” and copying something they find online, or simply receiving a contract from another coach, a friend, or fellow entrepreneur also in a similar space.
Sound familiar? There are actually 2 HUGE problems with this:
First – it is ILLEGAL to use a contract written by someone else, unless you have THEIR permission to use it. So, if you want to use a contract that was given to you by someone else, you’ll need to track down the attorney who wrote it, and ask permission to use the document. Without getting this permission, you are likely committing copyright infringement (a violation of Federal law.)
Second – the online coaching industry has very specific legal issues, potential pitfalls, and things that must be in your contract – so having an attorney familiar with the industry draft your contract is VITAL. The contract you find online or copy may have nothing to do with the type of coaching services you offer, may not be meant for the online space, or may otherwise not protect you at all. The last thing you want is to have a legal issue, and find out AFTER the fact that your contract was garbage, right?
When you offer any kind of course, ebook, DIY program, or other digital product that customers can purchase directly from your website, it no longer makes sense to have each of those customers sign a client agreement or 1:1 customer agreement, because they can complete their purchase without any involvement from you. BUT – it’s just as important (if not MORE important) to have terms associated with the digital product, and to have each customer agree to the terms prior to their purchase. Without that step, there are NO terms in place for your digital products, and nothing in place to protect your content, limit your liability, control how disputes are handled, and other vital terms you need to control in your business.
While starting an online business can be hugely successful, and can be done with very little startup costs, getting the legal pieces right is EXTREMELY important to get done as soon as possible! Once you’ve completed this step, you will be able to grow and scale your coaching business without the stress and hassle of not having the right legal documents in place.
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