by Sam Vander Wielen | Featured Contributor
Hey friends! I hope you enjoyed my last post on the 7 Ways To Protect Your Business and Website! I’m back this month helping you understand the two major areas of your business that need some legal coverage: your website and your “relationships”. I know this legal stuff can be boring and confusing, but my goal today is to give you a broad overview of where your business needs legal protection and why.
Let’s break it down, shall we?
Imagine a tree that only has 2 branches (it’s a skinny tree!). Branch #1 is your website and online presence. And branch #2 is your relationships with clients, potential clients, or business-to-business relationships (i.e., hiring a logo designer or virtual assistant for help). These are the two major areas of your business where “legal” comes into play.
Branch #1: Your Website
The fact that it’s so easy to start a website nowadays is both a glorious and scary thing. It’s great that nearly anyone can start their own blog in just a few hours, but there’s a flip side to the internet that we don’t always think about…
Anyone can READ your blog.
Anyone can TRY one of your suggested recipes, workouts, or healthy tips.
Anyone can BUY one of your products, no matter where they live, and implement or use what you sell.
Yes, the fact that we have such easy access to the internet is glorious – but it’s also another reason why us entrepreneurs need to protect ourselves. Anyone could access, use, or implement what we talk, write, or speak about online. And we have no idea who those people are, what kind of health they’re in, or whether they’re being smart and implementing our suggestions the right way.
So that’s why we cover ourselves (aka. our businesses) by covering our websites. The 3 major legal documents you need on your website to cover your business, what you write and sell on it, and what you say are a:
- Disclaimer (which tells people who you are, what you do, and what you don’t so you can cover yourself!)
- Terms & Conditions (which sets the ground rules for things like refunds, exchanges, payment processing & so much more!)
So after we get our website covered because we’re being mindful of the fact that anyone could read something on our site and try or buy it, we’re going to focus on our 1-on-1 business and client relationships.
Branch #2: Working With Clients + Business-To-Business Relationships
So now you have your website covered with some simple DIY legal templates, but what about your 1-on-1 client relationships? Or that new virtual assistant you want to hire? You need legal protection here, too. Why?
For your 1-on-1 client relationships (i.e., 1-on-1 coaching, website/logo design, or service type work), you need a client agreement that you customize and send to each new client before you start working together. Not only does it disclaim liability on your business’s part, but it also sets the expectations for what you’re providing, how much you’re getting paid, how you’re being paid (when, payment method, etc.) and what some of your most important policies are.
When you work business-to-business (i.e., hiring a website designer to work on your website, hiring a photographer to take some new headshots, hiring a new virtual assistant), you want to think about having a formal, written agreement between you (on behalf of your business) and that business, too.
Having these agreements in place are important for a host of super boring legal reasons that I won’t get into (but I’m willing to if you ever want to hear about them! Just contact me!). But here’s why you should consider having a written agreement in place instead of a bunch of back and forth emails or texts…
- You’ll know what work’s to be completed and by when
- You’ll have a clear idea of how much you’re being charged
- You’ll know exactly what’s included for that price
- You’ll know what to do if you’re unhappy with the product or service
- You’ll have the opportunity to set clear expectations so everyone walks away happy
Before you enter into any business relationship, think about whether you need a written agreement or not. You can always ask the person on the other end if they have an agreement they use already. If they don’t (or if you want to make sure the agreement is written in terms most favorable to you), you should be ready with your own written contract to send them.
So what questions do you have about legally covering these 2 huge branches of your business? In reality, there are plenty of additional little branches (especially as our businesses grow and become more complicated). But this is what I like to call a good “30,000 foot overview” of how you should think of legally covering your business and business relationships.
I’d love to hear from you if you have any questions! Please ask away in the comments below! <3
Sam Vander Wielen, attorney + entrepreneur at samvanderwielen.com
Sam Vander Wielen is a corporate attorney-turned-entrepreneur and health coach from Philadelphia. Through Sam Vander Wielen LLC, she helps women confidently create businesses and content they love by protecting themselves with DIY legal templates and resources. Sam helps coaches, entrepreneurs, and creatives find out what they need to protect their businesses, when and why. When she isn’t helping boss babes build their online empires, she’s usually drinking coffee, at the beach, or watching the Bachelorette because Rachel Lindsay is the bomb.