And Don’t Borrow Contracts!
I’m sure we’ve all done it. You get to that weekend away and realize you forgot all of your underwear/panties/insert-garment-of-choice. Oops. Shops are closed until tomorrow and you guys are heading out for a night on the town. So you borrow a pair from a friend. She’s about your size and they will work. You put them on and get through the night, but the whole time, YOU KNOW deep down that they aren’t yours. You borrowed them and will give them back (at which case she may or may not let you just keep them…)
Think of your legal documents in the SAME way.
Your contracts and policies should be unique to your business. You should not merely rely on another website’s/coach’s/friend’s policy and adopt it as your own.
I see this A LOT, especially in messages in groups around The Facebook and it gives me high blood pressure every. single. time.
It goes something like this: “I’m a new [insert industry here] does someone have a client contract I can use?” There a few very good reasons why you should not ‘borrow’ a contract from someone else, even if they are in your same industry.
Why YOU shouldn’t GET a contract from someone else
It’s potentially copyright infringement. If they bought their contract/template from an attorney (which hopefully they did), there is 99% chance there is a clause that the document is for their use only and not to be shared.
Once you start using it, you are effectively stealing it from that lawyer and in violation. You could be on the hook from $5K -up to $100K in damages, even if this person happily handed it over. This is the same if that person got it from their coach, friend, etc. It’s a dangerous trail.
Your policies may be (and likely are) different. Is this agreement even for the same type of program/industry? Are you 100% sure that you changed everything that needed to be changed based on your own business? What if they have an arbitration clause but you actually want mediation? Is this confidentiality clause going to protect you?
It’s not safe. It’s not smart. BOTTOM LINE. If you are getting legal documents from someone else, you have no idea whether or not they are even correct, that they will protect you, and are even valid for you. It could be more dangerous than not having anything at all.
Sure they may be a coach just like you - but health coaches, web designers, photographers, business coaches, consultants, and life coaches all need DIFFERENT policies and disclaimers.
You are a unique flower! Ok, that’s cheesy, but it’s true. Your refund policy may be hella more strict than that policy you took. Also that policy could be total BS and not even written by a lawyer.
So when getting your legal ducks in a row (which you are doing, right?) just make sure to get custom documents (obviously the best choice) or templates that are geared towards your industry, which normally will include the general disclaimer language you need!
Why YOU shouldn’t GIVE someone your contract.
Another thing I see too often is friends giving their other business-owning friends their contracts. Don't do this. If you hand over a contract that you purchased online or from an attorney, or even that you got as part of a coaching program, you are likely in violation of the terms of that purchase agreement and then the person you give it to, whether knowingly or not, may be committing copyright infringement. They could be on the hook for A LOT of cash and then try to come back and blame you for passing it along.
If you give them something that is legally weak or plain out wrong, they could be opening themselves up to a lot of liability, and then again, come back and blame you for giving it to them. Just because it has worked for you and your business, doesn’t mean it will work for them.
I know that in this online world it is great to share resources and information, but LEGAL documents are just not one of the areas you should be sharing ANYTHING, except perhaps the name of a lawyer or website you liked using!
Protect yourself, your biz, your friends, and your clients by protecting your contracts.