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How To Set Up Your Business Legally

coaches season 1 tools training replay


Hello everyone. It's Jen Kilbourne Obermeier. I'm excited to be here with you tonight.

I am giggling because I can hear my daughter giggling and it's making me laugh.

Welcome to the middle of your week!

Hope that you guys are doing well.

They topic that we are going touch on today is very much - let me just say it in an advanced disclaimer.

I am not a lawyer.

But what I want to share today are some legal considerations.

As you are setting up your online business, setting up your website, thinking about the terms and conditions and stuff you need to know about the products that you're going to be selling and the services that you're potentially going to be offering.

Because as with every business, there are some legal setup- ish kinds of things that while it might not be a big deal at first, eventually you are going to need to come through these things and make sure that you have your bases covered.


I'm going to be talking about what those things even are.

Even though, I said, in this topic, I'm not going to be teaching you everything you need to know for free.

I am very much going to give you a list of - here are the things that you need to research.

I'll give you all the free resources that I possibly can.

Then also give you some paid resources, that I am familiar with, ie. friends that I trust, that really specialize in online business legal stuff for coaches, for consultants, for people who sell anything online, whether it's a product or a service.

As you're logging in today, I would love for you to just engage in the chat box a little bit.

Tell me what you're up to, where are you with your setup as we're working through this vlogcast series, we've been talking about ideas, we've been talking about - here are the mechanics of how these things work.


You can go ahead and start to build an audience now without having to really have built out a website, or even be thinking about terms and conditions and email, rules and regulations.

You don't even have to be thinking about that to work on some of these other things.

Let me know how's it going.

Are you are you moving fast?

Are you moving slow?

Are you still just in research mode?

Just tell me who you are, what you're working on and what you want to learn more about, because this is where I get my video topic ideas from - directly from my audience.

Let's start at square one, which is when you do have - let's start with actually the thing that you're selling.

Now when you are providing a service such as coaching or consulting, you have probably, it has probably crossed your mind that you're going to need to have some type of contract.


Again, beyond the scope of me teaching you everything that needs to go in the contract, there are tons of free resources about this on the internet.

You can either go ahead and Google it, or I'll post some links to get you going in the right direction.

I think the important thing for you to know that I think is overwhelming for most people is that they believe that their contract must be customized and written by a lawyer in order for it to protect you legally.

That is actually not entirely true.

At a certain point in your business, you may want to have a lawyer review your contracts in order to really make sure that you have thought of every possible detail that could go wrong or ever will go wrong.


But even with a contract, in fact, there are many websites that will sell a contract template.

That can be something like Legal Zoom, or it can be something more specific such as my friend, Annette, who I'm going to share her resource with you at the end of this, or I'll go back and post the link in the description.

She actually is a lawyer and she sells contract templates that are that good "in-between", where she has already thought of everything for you.

Like let's say you're a coach and you're selling coaching services.

She has already thought of everything for you.

All you have to do is download it and fill in the blanks essentially.

You have a working contract that will still not be as customized as it would be for you to work with a contract lawyer that was specific to your business.


But - that's a much more expensive option and it just may not be necessary until down the line.

But even if you put together your own contract, that is at least some level of protection.

Now you may not have thought of everything that could go wrong, but at some level of protection, if, a client ever were to sue you, that would be awful, but you have to at least put, you have had somewhere where you guys have both signed off on what you believed at the time <laugh> was the best understanding of your working relationship that you could put on paper.

At least you have a starting point, with a contract that has not been written by a lawyer that you have pulled together from multiple sources.

Like I said, there's actually a lot of really good free resources for that type of thing too.


If you're selling a coaching service, it, that is probably a little more obvious - what may be less obvious is if you are working with, let's say, you are working with an independent contractor who is going to be managing your social media, that also requires a contract.

Like it's truly not going to be the end of the world if you have somebody do a little bit of work for you and you didn't have a contract, but you didn't really expect it to be a long-term relationship.

Like they were just helping you get your Facebook page set up.

You probably don't need a contract for that, but for someone who you are expecting to have a set of things that they're responsible for - the only way you will ever be able to hold them responsible for it...


That they don't take your money and run is to have something in writing.

Be thinking about contracts, not only for your clients, but also for anybody that you work with.

Then last but not least when you are, even if you're not selling a service, your products or your courses, or any other type of on online program, whether it's a group coaching program or a workshop series or whatever it is that you're selling, that's not just literally an ebook download...

It's something that you do have to put work into.

You need to have a contract, so to speak, even though what they would really call it is the terms and conditions of enrolling in this program or purchasing that material.

One of the most important things is to make sure that this - not only do they understand what the terms, what the payment terms are and what the refund conditions are.


But also that it protects you and your intellectual property.

That again is something that legally down the road, you may want to be thinking about, do you want to trademark your program or trademark your method of anything?

My course at this point is trademarked legally.

That means nobody <laugh>, nobody can use a similar - they can't use the name to sell a similar product or what have you.

Your terms and conditions for even selling a course is a contract between you and that person.

Here's my end of the deal. And here's your end of the deal.

You need to have that researched in terms of something that they would accept, check the box when they enroll or sign up.

Then lastly if you are selling a product, that's just hey, it's an ebook download.


Like maybe your terms and conditions are as simple as you may not sell or redistribute this product as your own.

All sales are final because I'm giving you the download and you have it on your computer.

Like you can't return that.

I would say if you're not very familiar with the online business world, that it is fairly common for a downloadable product to be non-refundable.

And then for courses and that thing, and there's typically a 30 day guarantee or refund period, to where, and there's a variety of different ways to handle it, whether you are giving them 30 days to completely go in and get all of the content and do everything, and then they get a refund, no questions asked.

Many people do that.

Other people implement more of "you actually have to do the work and show up to the calls "thing.

Like you can't just change your mind later because you lost interest or whatever.

They implement more of a refund policy like that.

For courses, the refund policy can vary greatly.


But you want to be making sure that it is crystal clear that in all of your communication with your students, and on your sales page and, the follow up emails that you are doing your due diligence in making sure that it is very clear what that refund policy is.

As you're doing some research about whatever it is that you're selling, make sure that you're looking for, you're searching for things like "terms and conditions for a course", or a "coaching contract" or a "group coaching workshop contract".

Again, it doesn't have to be something big and scary, but it is something that you are putting out there and then your students or your clients are agreeing to.

That just makes you look professional too.

It really makes you look like, hey, I take this seriously.


I'm not just throwing something out there and trying to scramble some money together off the internet and then not deliver what I promised.

It really protects not only the student, but also you. Melissa's here. Hi, Melissa!

I wanted to start at the end with your legal considerations around the things that you're actually selling.

Then I want to back up from there.

In the general sense, your one thing that you will need to probably learn first, is what are the legal considerations around building an email list.

Now, when you actually start to email that email list, <laugh> you will come across, for example, you, as a business owner, you can't send out emails that don't have an address on them.


It is a law that you have to have a physical address on your email, at the bottom.

Like if you're sending out a mass email, not a one on one email, but a mass email to your email list, you've got to provide an address.

That's the legal legality.

What I have done, or what I've been doing for years is I have a PO Box.

I'm not putting my personal address, on <laugh> emails that go out to thousands of people around the world.

That will be something that at first, you might not feel it's a big deal, but as you want your business to grow.

It's something that is a small investment that is very worth it.

Another thing about email lists that you may be aware of, because if you've been on an email list, you have probably seen this.


You have to actually opt-in to an email list.

Nobody can email you, they can't just steal your email off of LinkedIn and then add you to a list without your consent.

The opt in part of the email opt in with the freebie, we've been talking about that very strategically in terms of making sure that you're attracting the right people, but that also is an actual legal matter.

<laugh> you can't just borrow a bunch of email addresses from your networking group and then say, oh, I got a list of 500 people and I can sell them something - you cannot do that.

Do not do that.

Do not do that, it is very bad form.

People will report you as spam.

When they report your email as spam, then none of your future emails or more of your future emails that you send are just going to go straight to spam anyway.


It's really not a good strategy.

Don't do that.

But in, all fairness, a lot of people don't realize that it is an actual requirement to use an email list program like MailChimp or what we've, I guess we haven't gone into super detail, but we talked about MailChimp and we talked about ConvertKit.

Another thing is there are new laws that have gone into effect over the past few years about compliance.

Especially if you have people on your list that live in Europe, they have stricter - in a nutshell, they have stricter laws about how their citizens can, how their email addresses can be used.

If you come across the acronym G D P R - you do not have to become a lawyer to understand this.

It is very confusing.


But when you, when you see something that says, GDPR-compliant, that's a good thing.

You want that because if you're going to be having people on your list ever that live in Europe, you could be held liable some say for millions of dollars, but I'm thinking if your business is not worth millions of dollars, I don't know how they can charge you that much, but, you can be held personally liable for sending emails that were not GDPR compliant to people in the European Union.

That is something not to ignore.

Like when you go through the checklist of setting up MailChimp for the first time, whatever it is that says, hey, in order to ensure that your account is GDPR compliant, you have to follow these steps, do all of those steps, even if you don't think you're ever going to have somebody from Europe on your email list, just go ahead and do it.


Because it's not going to hurt anything.

Some people say that eventually the US will have stricter privacy laws, but who knows when that's going to happen.

All right, Cabri is here. Hey girl.

Talking about email is a big legal thing, I think that that's probably the most common area of confusion.

Whereas some of these other things are a little bit more straightforward.

I would say email is an area that you will need to just be up to speed with and understand, hey, here's why I have to do these things.

Kelly's here. Hey, Kelly. She said, thank you for this.

You're so welcome. Okay, so we've talked about email lists.

They next thing is when you do have a website, your website needs to have two little baby pages on it that are really important.


One is going to be a privacy policy that your business has - you can, you've probably seen this if you ever look at the footer of a website, you can go look at mine just as an example, in the footer, there will be a privacy policy link and then a terms and conditions link.

Now this terms and conditions refers to what my visitors are agreeing to when they use my website and that doesn't have anything to do with whether they ever pay money for a service or for my course or anything.

It's just it's terms and conditions of the website.

While it may seem very basic, it's just one of those things that you have to put on there.

You need to have it at the bottom of any other page.

For example, let's say you're running a Facebook ad in the future one day, and you're running a Facebook ad to a page that does not have terms and conditions, or does not have a privacy policy, or does not have any contact information.


Facebook will not run your ad because you have to really show this is a legit business and I am not using people's personal info to sell it, to rent it out to be basically evil - don't be evil.

So that's really a requirement that maybe it's going to take you half of an afternoon to research and get implemented on your page.

Then it's one-and-done, which is great.

Now when it comes to this, you can Google "free privacy policy".

Again, I'm going to provide some links for this, but if you want to do your own research, free privacy policy generator, terms and conditions, template for a website, there are many free resources out resources out there.

Then as I mentioned, some of these online lawyer template stuff, they'll have contract templates and then they'll have a website terms and conditions templates, and then they'll have the subcontractor templates, I was saying before, if you hire somebody to do your social media and you need to have a template, my friend, Annette, she sells all of these templates and an all in one bundle.


Yes, it is more expensive than Googling stuff and putting it together yourself.

But what you get out of that is the peace of mind of knowing that it is backed by an attorney who is a real person.

Legal Zoom is also a resource that is a lot cheaper, for most everything as well.

Like you can get contracts and terms and conditions and that thing, I want to say for 25 to $50 ish, in that range, there's absolutely no reason why you need to have a real live lawyer write you a terms and conditions for your website, because it's so much usually similar, to other websites.

It doesn't really need to be totally customized.

I'm not saying you should go copy & paste somebody else's, but if that's what you have to do, oh God, I'm going to get in trouble for saying that if you did do that, just to have a placeholder until you got your own done, that would be preferable to not having it.


Don't leave it up there forever.

I would say leave it a few days and then come back and finish it.

What are some other things that I haven't thought of?

Excuse me, while I cheat really quick.

I have a little cheat sheet of a few other things, but I really wanted to cover those, one moment, Annette Stepanian lawyer for entrepreneurs.

If you guys have any comments or questions, go ahead and type those in while I'm trying to finish up my - oh yeah, of course.

I missed a big one.

A lot of people, I mentioned the trademark thing.

Sometimes you're going to want to trademark your business itself.

Other times you're going to want to trademark your intellectual property of your course, your book or whatever.

Like if you write the next, Konmari method book, you'd want to trademark your Konmari brand and the method and all that stuff.


Annette also does trademark registration, legal consultation, contract review, as services.

Then she also deals with setting up your business formation in terms of, are you an LLC?

Are you a sole proprietor?

If you have ever had a business of any kind before, you have probably run across some of these distinctions and you're well, which one do I need to be if I'm an online business?

Your type of business is not likely to have a lot to do with how you choose to form.

I would really say in this case, the best advice is to talk to your tax accountant because it has tax implications, more so than legal implications.

You can be running an online business as a sole proprietor.

There is not a problem with that.


In terms of are you legally legit?

Yes, you are.

My business, just to give you some reference, I had a service business that I was running.

It was formed as a sole proprietorship and it stayed that way.

When I started Pro Organizer Studio, I did form an LLC.

I can't really remember what prompted me to do that at that time.

Other than that, I just felt okay, this wasn't my first business.

It wasn't just me.

I think it definitely gives you a legitimacy in terms of presenting yourself to the world.

I am still taxed as a sole proprietor, LLC, a single member LLC.

There's more than one type of LLC.

Ooh, Cabri asked a really good question. I'm going to come back to that in just a second.


Then in Annette, this is my other cheat sheet. Her website is

Annette really is a lovely person.

She has been on my podcast before talking about legal startup, covering your legal bases for professional organizers, but she really can give industry specific advice to a multitude of types of businesses.

She really knows a lot about online business.

I was just going to browse through her other contracts really quick and make sure, I mean her other templates and make sure I didn't miss anything.

Let's go to that online educator because that's what I am.

She has a template for group coaching or mastermind terms of service, terms of service for an online course.

We talked about that, she has, let's see for coaches and consultants, she has some of the same things.


Then, and then there's the terms and conditions, and privacy policy for a website.

She will bundle that all in a bundle. Amazing.

<laugh> If you need everything all at once, and that's going to cost you way less then it will cost you to work with her and give you a contract for services and that thing.

That's going to cost you way less than working with a lawyer.

One-on-one at how many hundreds of dollars per hour, a thousand dollars an hour just to look at your contract?

A template is really a good way to go if you don't really want, if you don't really trust Legal Zoom.

Anyway, the one thing I'll also say is that if you attempt to go through Legal Zoom for trademarking, what I have heard is that if they mess up your process and you take it to you, then you try to take it to another lawyer.


That there's something that happens, that where they don't allow that <laugh>.

If you're going to trademark something, you need to make sure you choose the person wisely.

So somebody like Annette, I would trust way more than a faceless, no-name person that is a Legal Zoom lawyer.

Other things like getting a contract template from Legal Zoom probably is also not that big of a deal.

Then, you're still allowed to customize a template to you and your business, which is the beautiful thing.

A lot of people don't realize that it's okay to change your contract.

Even if a lawyer did write it, you can edit it slightly for every new client that you sign on, which is sometimes necessary.

We assume all jobs or services are going to be similar, but sometimes they're not.


You're allowed to tweak it yourself, even if a lawyer has drafted it for you.

This is a really, good question.

I'm really glad that Cabri asked this.

She said, what would happen if people are stealing your coaching material and passing it on to someone else?

That also brings up a second related question, which is the general stealing of content online.

Even if it's not paid content, it's just, hey, it's your Instagram picture?

It's your blog post?

Like what happens when people just literally copy and paste that, and then they don't give you credit, and try to pass it off theirs.

One of those is more serious than the other, obviously Cabri's scenario is worse.

But here's what I say.

Cabri and I <laugh>, unfortunately sadly just had a coaching call with someone about this yesterday.


All I can say is that at some point, during every online business owner's life, you are going to encounter someone who is using your work inappropriately and it's sad.

What I said to this person was here's - this is not lawyer advice.

This is just me.

If I have one of two approaches, I'm either going to do nothing because it's so obvious that they are taking my work and trying to put their name on the bottom of it and post it in a Facebook group.

I'm everybody, like knows that you're doing that.

We all see you doing that.

I can just - because it's not my paid content.

It's free content, that I'm willing to let go.

I'm not going to open a legal battle over that.

What I was saying to my coaching client yesterday was that with me, there's either zero or there's a hundred.


At the point where somebody has, Cabri said stolen my trademark's intellectual property material and is selling it or giving it away, then they will hear directly from my lawyer.

They will not be hearing from me because it's not going to be mine to deal with.

I will engage a legal process in that.

Because - when you work on something really hard, you feel it's your child.

It's emotional, but it doesn't mean that you have to get involved in sending them an email and saying hey, hi.

"I noticed that you have stolen my work and are selling it on your own website," or whatever.

It is very sad that this happens.

It does happen.

Then going back to, okay, I see some more questions coming in.

This is awesome.

Going back to that scenario where somebody is just, I know just is a big word, but if they just have copied your Instagram post or they've shared your photo, but they didn't tag you and it's hey, that's my original content.



You will need to one first of all, reach out politely and say, hey, you probably didn't know this, but that is that's my original content.

When it gets shared, it needs to be properly attributed back to the creator.

You can say, you're welcome to use it on your Instagram or whatever, but you need to tag me and also, tag me in the picture and tag me in the comments or however you're asking them to give you credit for it.

In most cases, if sadly you have to hunt this down, but if you ask then usually they'll say no problem.

I didn't realize or whatever, even though you're thinking, I bet you did.

See there's that and if they don't do it, then you need Christina Scalera, she's another online lawyer.


She she has a resource and I've got to hunt this down for you.

She has a resource where she's okay, here's how to do it.

1.) First. You send that nice version.

2.) Then secondly, you say, she has a thing where she will invoice the person and say, so since you have not complied, I will now invoice you for this amount, for using the work without credit, that will now cost you.

She approaches it super sweetly, but also professionally.

3.) Then as a third pass, if they're still not complying, then you can go through a more legal process, if it's worth it to you to have somebody cut that off and take it down.

It's more of a cease and desist situation where the person literally gets a letter from your lawyer.


Hopefully at that point complies.

Cabri let me know if that answers your questions.

Obviously I'm going to say this 15 million times, I'm not a lawyer, but this is what I have learned about all of this stuff over, many years of business.

Cabri also asked, can you give some examples on which situations would be best for trademark copyright or patents?

Like how would these apply?

Ooh, this is really good.

Here's the thing about trademarks is you can begin using as soon as you intend to trademark a product of yours, you can begin using that little super script TM symbol next to every time you write it.

Like I went through the process of trademarking Inspired Organizer.

What I did first was I just started using Inspired Organizer™ every single time I put it out there because what you want to show is that if, for some crazy reason, somebody else had started the trademarking process a few months later for the exact same thing, you want to be able to prove going back that you were using it in an "intent to trademark" at an earlier date.


That TM symbol, all that means at that point is there's an intent to trademark it.

So therefore it would discourage other people from using it or trying to get a trademark ahead of you.

Then once your trademark is approved, then you can use the little R with the circle around it as, and that indicates that it is actually a legally registered trademark.

At that point it is yours forever more.

Copyright is, ooh, that's a really good question, because I don't know the answer.

I think copyright, you can say for example, you'll see on most, at the bottom of most websites that, it'll say mine is "Copyright 2020 Pro Organizer Studio LLC", which is my legal business name.

So you can put that at the bottom of every website, every blog that you have, just as part of your footer.


Again, that's more of, it shows hey, this is my work, but I don't know beyond that.

Because copyright infringement is definitely a thing and I'm not sure when that would apply.

I don't know what would have to happen to prove copyright infringement.

That's a really good question.

I can research.

Patents are for inventions for products.

Other things I actually, one of my husband's best friends is a patent lawyer.

If we really wanted to find out we could, but my understanding is if in most cases that's more of intellectual, I mean intellectual property is a big deal and you can patent intellectual property, but that usually applies for small businesses.

Like when you have designed a physical product or something that has a formula to it, a sewing pattern, or a recipe, I don't know if you patent a recipe, but if it's that thing, that might be a call for a patent versus a trademark.


But yeah, don't listen to me on that one.

Kelly said, okay, let me finish up on, let me circle back on the rest of Cabri's comment. Then I'll go back to Kelly.

Cabri said there are people who I've come across, have taken pictures, blogs, courses, et cetera, that feels someone else in a similar industry.

I make a point to ask them some tough questions about their content.

I love the way you said that.

She said, normally they can't answer questions or give you BS answers.

You can tell if the content was genuinely theirs.


As a consumer, I can.

I think that that's - I think that is disturbing.

I think that one of the things that you can do is especially if you are a student or a client of the other person, obviously you're really familiar with their work, shoot them an email and say by the way, you may know this, you may not, but so-and-so's work over here feels so much like yours.


I'm just curious, do you guys have a working relationship and are you aware that their blog posts are just a few words off of yours?

That's literally plagiarism, because you have to change a lot of words to not be plagiarizing.

Yeah, so Cabri, when it's you seeing it happen to someone else?

I think, <laugh> there's probably not a lot you can do to take down this other person.

But just sending it along to the customer service department of the person who seems they're being copied, I think is the good human thing to do.

Then not giving your business to the person who seems they pretty much stole all that stuff is probably also the good human thing to do.

It does really boggle my mind.


It's so hard to put anything out there.

Like you're putting yourself out there in an online business and, it's <laugh> why go through the effort if it's not even your own stuff - that just seems like karma will just come back to get you so quickly.

All right, Kelly has a comment about the, business formation.

She said that S Corp LLCs, which are a different type of LLC, will protect your personal assets as well as giving more opportunities for other deductions.

She said it's the most common and easiest LLC to set up with Legal Zoom, make sure that you check off that you want to be the power of attorney and IRS correspondence, not Legal Zoom.

It's much easier to change errors that way.

That's really good advice.

Again, my biggest recommendation is to not make that decision...


Like you can start a business as a sole proprietor, but when you do change your formation, don't make that decision based on something you read on Pinterest.

Go to your tax accountant, and talk to them about what is most beneficial in your situation.

For example, when my husband and I got married, I had this business, it already existed.

So when we got married, we discussed whether or not the formation should change to an S Corp.

But what the guy did was he looked at our specific situation and weighed the pros and cons.

Then we decided to leave it as it is.

Again, that's something that can really vary based on you and your family circumstances and  whomever's assets are joined along with yours.


Kelly said, yep, go see a CPA. Kelly sounds she knows about this stuff.

That's awesome. All right guys.

As promised, trying to keep it short to the point, but also guide you in the right direction and not have you be stuck or not sure, but also just aware of here are some things that need to be on your list.

It probably doesn't happen have to happen today, but it does need to happen at some point.

It just gives you a sense of peace and security that you are running your business legitimately and that you're not overlooking this huge thing or some huge way for someone to take advantage of you and take your content that is bad.

Cabri said she especially loves this chat, especially because it's tough.


Nobody wants to think about these things until it's too late.

Yeah, for sure.

Kelly said in her prior life, she managed a CPA firm for five years.

Ooh that's I think, I feel that's really good knowledge to have too.

We, I think the one thing we didn't really talk about was, yeah, you need to have a CPA.

You need to have at some point in your business, this is not really legal, but at some point in your business, no matter what business you have, go meet with an actual CPA at least one time.

Because they will give you some direction for how to handle business finances, things that are deductible for your industry.

Like it really depends on a lot of things.

They'll give you all the basics that you need to know and then you'll decide, do you just want to have them do your taxes once a year or do you want to have them maybe manage your bookkeeping every month?


Maybe you want to go all the way or maybe you just want to do it yourself and then keep all your end records and send it to them, for tax time.

This is this is definitely on a list of things that I consider "business adulting".

They first time you go meet with a CPA, the first time you go meet with a lawyer, <laugh> what else, all kinds of things -  they just really make you feel confident about your business because once you've done it once, you're just, "That wasn't so scary!"

Yeah. Kelly said a hundred dollar meeting is worth years of frustrations and I could not agree more.

This was a pleasure as always, I will be back tomorrow!

My agenda for tomorrow is to discuss some things related to SEO, which is search engine optimization.


We have touched on this a few times, in terms of blogging and setting up your YouTube channel.

But I want to go a little deeper into that and give you some more direction with what you need to be looking for - things that you can do yourself that are very easy.

Other things that maybe will require a little bit more time and education or - potentially hiring out down the road.

It'll be a similar conversation today where we're just going another layer, another layer deeper.

But anyway, enjoy, talking to you guys always and have a great night. Bye!

You know you have a Powerful Presence, but still don't know how to truly translate your work online without losing precious energy, time, and money.

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