FAQ About Legally Protecting your Business (hint…You need to do it ASAP!)

As i’ve mentioned before, (and as you’ve probably already realized) starting a business takes a LOT more than just signing clients and rolling in the profits! So much time and effort goes into your website design and marketing, before you even get to your amazing offers and products! Getting to the part where you learn about and look into the legal side of your business sometimes falls to the bottom of your to-do list, because it isn’t as sexy as completing your opt-in, and connecting your sales funnels!! (Or is it??!! haha ok ok sorry i’m just the legal nerd over here.) BUT – waiting until your business has taken off is NOT the best plan when it comes to protecting your business…you need to get these things in place BEFORE you start bringing traffic to your website and working with clients! Here are the most common questions i’ve received in connection with the legal side of an online biz, and some information that I hope is helpful!

What is all this legal stuff? Do I really need it?? Answer: YES!!

Starting a business can be overwhelming – I’ve been there! Often times there is pressure to start bringing in money and signing clients, and your focus falls to building your website, posting on social media, and advertising to build your tribe. While these are all DEFINITELY important steps to building your brand and business (and you should do them!) it’s also REALLY important to get the legal side of your business squared away, before you start taking on clients.

“What do I need for my website?”

Chances are, one of the first things on your to-do list was to (or is to) build your website, right? Maybe you’ve started a blog, and are now adding the option for your followers to start working with you in a coaching capacity. Wherever you are in your business setup, as soon as you create your website, you’ll need some additional documents to go with it ASAP: (1) a Privacy Policy, (2) Terms and Conditions, and (3) your Disclaimer. These documents will all go at the bottom of each of your website pages via a hyperlink, where those visiting your site can click on each document and read through your policies.

When do I need these Documents?

ASAP! Federal regulations require privacy policies in place for all websites, in order to ensure you are properly disclosing certain information to all who visit your site. Do you have an opt-in on your website? A Privacy Policy NEEDS to be on your website, and should be accompanied by Terms and Conditions outlining the rules for those visiting your website, as well as a disclaimer, explaining to users how information on your website is to be used and not used.

What Do I need if I’m working with Clients?  

If you plan on (or already are!) working with clients in a one-to-one capacity, offering private coaching or other similar services, you’ll need a Client Agreement. Sometimes there is some resistance to this Agreement, because coaches don’t want to feel stiff, and don’t want their client to feel that the money and “business” side of working together are more important than the personal connection and breakthroughs your new client will experience. But it doesn’t have to be that way! Client Agreements need to be in place in order to protect both you AND your client, and simply operates to ensure both parties understand the services being provided, payment being made, and what will happen should any problems arise. Although we don’t want to anticipate something going wrong, whether that’s a client becoming dissatisfied with your program or misunderstanding what the program was about, a client going MIA and missing payments on their payment plan, or a client copying your work and using it as their own (this is not okay!!!) If any of these situations arise, you will be at a serious disadvantage if there was no written agreement in place between you and this client. Ideally, this Agreement is completed and signed by each client you begin working with, and neither you or your client ever needs to use the agreement again. But just because you want to sign it and forget about it, doesn’t mean it isn’t VITAL to your business! It is a way to protect both you and your client should something unexpected occur. At the end of the day, you are running a business, and we need to make sure you are able to collect the money you’re owed, and that all parties understand what they are giving/receiving as a result of this coaching program.

What if I want to Feature Former or Current Client Testimonials on my Website or Sales Page?

That’s awesome!! Having testimonials is a great way to show your prospective clients what it’s like to work with you, and to share your client successes! When you are getting the testimonial and photo from your client, I always recommend getting them to sign a quick Testimonial Release as well. It’s a short, 1 page document that just confirms they are agreeing they wrote this testimonial for you, and are giving you and your team the right to use their words (and photo!) on your page, on future sales pages, and wherever you are expecting to use their testimonial. The Release also confirms they understand they are not entitled to seek payment from you in exchange for your continued use of the Release. Although we never anticipate something like this happening from a satisfied former or current client, we want to make sure you are protected, and the person giving the testimony understands what you are using it for!

What if I’m going to Offer a Group Program?

Once you move past the one-to-one client arrangements and are ready to expand into group program offerings (WOOHOO!) you’ll need another agreement called Terms of Use. If you’ve ever purchased a coaching program online, chances are you’ve been asked to check a box that says something like “I agree to the Terms of Use” before you are able to submit payment and complete your purchase. This document is similar to your individual Client Agreement, but outlines all information regarding your group program, including payment forms, your refund policies, what is and is not included in the program, etc. Like your Client Agreement, this document needs to be in place to ensure your group program clients know what they are getting, understand the payment structure, and understand they are not able to use copy they receive from you in the program as their own.

How can I get all these Documents in Place?

While it may seem overwhelming to learn about all these documents you need to add to your business (like you don’t already have a huge to-do list!!) It is easier and can be quicker than you may think. To make things easy, I have created a Beginners’ Bundle, available on my website, www.christywesterfeld.com that will get you started! The Beginners’ Bundle includes template versions of all three website documents, a template Client Agreement, and a template Testimonial Release, PLUS detailed instructions for each document that explains exactly what you need to input into each testimonial, to ensure your documents are personalized for your business, and to help you understand not only what you are adding to your site, but WHY each document is important! I want to help you get your documents in place, and empower you to understand why each document is necessary and what it does. If the Bundle isn’t right for you, or you just need some of the documents I’ve gone through, you can also find individual templates available, as well as the Terms of Use template for your group program.

If you have ANY questions about what you need or why, please email me at christy@christywesterfeld.com and I would be happy to provide additional information! I cannot provide legal advice or act as your attorney, but am happy to provide legal information to guide you through the process, and get you squared away.

xoxo

Christy

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