Your dreams have come true, lovely business boss.
I’m here to FINALLY write to you about what I’ve used to cover my business butt, legally.
Yeah. There are a lot of things about starting a business that are scary: making enough money from month-to-month, getting laughed at or ridiculed for doing something so “crazy,” failing, doing the wrong thing and suddenly losing your business, getting sued or having clients disappear or go crazy on you – luckily for me, MOST of these things have never happened. (I won’t go into the ones that have!) Luckily for YOU, those last three issues can be handled preventatively with solid legal protections!
If there is one thing that has been a priority for me since day 1 of my business, it’s this: I treat my business like a business. To me, this means that whenever I enter into a business relationship, we have terms that myself and the other person have discussed and agreed upon. From the very beginning, this has ALWAYS been important to me. Maybe I can owe that to being raised by an entrepreneur (thanks dad!), or maybe I can owe that to being trained in intellectual property law by the old head of legal affairs for Universal Studios (true story). Either way, one thing is true: agreements and terms have always been important to me. Personally, I LOVE when expectations are clear. I love it for my personal relationships and I love it for my business relationships.
But, when money is involved, you can’t always expect people to act according to your expectations. That’s where the law comes in.
So, without further ado, here’s a list of everything I currently use legally in my business, and why:
- CLIENT AGREEMENT! For anyone who’s working 1:1 with clients, this is a MUST HAVE. It will outline the terms of every payment and every promise. Even when I was just starting out as a one-woman-copywriting shop, my CLIENT AGREEMENT was SO important to me. Back then, I used a trusty template and made sure that my terms were all included in there so that whenever I started a new project with a new client, we were both comfy and protected. Holla!
- TRADEMARK! Um, hello! Your Hot Copy is my brand! #territorial Especially now that we’re growing into an agency and I’m training writers in my sizzling-hot copywriting method, this is only more and more important. Trademarks are hard to DIY, but you can still learn everything you need to know to get ‘em done and how the process works from a good solid legal course.
- OFFICIAL BUSINESS ENTITY! Your Hot Copy is an LLC. This protects me legally in case my company were to randomly get sued. It also helps me separate myself personally from my business financially, which makes a helluva lotta sense when you’re spending upwards of $50,000 on your business every year. Which, if you know my numbers, you know is WAY WAY true.
- INDEPENDENT CONTRACTOR AGREEMENTS! Every single person I hire or use in my business MUST sign one of these. This is how we legally and financially protect one another – by making sure that the terms of what’s included, and what working together means, is all clear and mutually agreed to from the get-go. At this point, I’ve hired upwards of 15 contractors (not even sure the current count, tbh) so you bet your ass you need a professionally crafted contract for this ASAP.
- TERMS & CONDITIONS! Yeah, so remember that thing I said about shit you need if your business is on the internet? This too. The Terms & Conditions helps you make sure that anyone who’s cruising your site knows what’s expected of THEM if they’re doing so. Even if those stalkers never read it, it’s gotta be there in big, bold print to state your rights and protect your intellectual property (and booty!).
For example, I am NOT a lawyer, so I cannot offer you legit legal advice or make you promises about this advice being legit legal advice. I repeat: this is NOT legit legal advice and I am NOT a lawyer. Phew… honesty just feels so damn good, doesn’t it?
What this blog is intended to do is to transparently walk you through the stuff that I use in my business. Bear in mind: I hired pros and used professional legal advice and templates to accomplish these things… because I’m not a legal pro! That said, my good friend (and gorgeous client) Gena Shingle Jaffe IS, which is why I agreed to be an affiliate for her course Damsel Goes Bare™ and help promote it. I’m a HUGE fan of Gena and Lisa Fraley’s work, and because I know how critical it is for small businesses to cover their ass on a budget, I will continue to shout about it from the rooftops (of my website and social media accounts, anyway)!!!
One more thing before I stop the impassioned yelling….
This course is only $997!!!
Um, I spent over $10,000 on all of my legal needs.
SO I’M TOTALLY JEALOUS OF YOU RIGHT NOW!
Head here for all the deets.