Over the years, I’ve heard countless horror stories from coaches and service providers that found themselves in a legal mess because of an insufficient contract. The worst part? These problems are 100% preventable but have BIG repercussions.
It’s my mission to help online business owners avoid big contract issues, so I take every opportunity I can to help guide you to protect yourself and your business. Of course your contract protects your cash and avoids refund nightmares, but it does way more than just that!
Your contract establishes boundaries, payment schedules, expectations, availability, work product AND protects you from litigation.
I get this question all the time: Sarah, what do I need in my contract? There are many aspects that are necessary, but here are my top 7 MUST HAVES in your coaching or service provider contract:
- TERMS: Terms of the service they are purchasing (what exactly are you providing, when, and in what ways?)⠀⠀⠀⠀
- REFUND POLICY: Your refund policy (what happens if they miss a payment? If they aren’t happy with your services?) ⠀⠀⠀
- PAYMENT SCHEDULE: When and how are payments due?⠀⠀
- IP: Protection for your intellectual property (who owns what? What happens with the module you created? The logo your VA designed for you?⠀⠀⠀
- DISCLAIMERS: Disclaimers of liability (protects you from claims and advises your clients that you are not a doctor, therapist, magician, etc) Super important for coaches, service providers, wellness teachers! ⠀
- JURISDICTION: where is YOUR business and what law controls the contract?
- DISPUTE RESOLUTION: what happens if you guys disagree? Courtroom? Arbitration?⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Whether you are a coach or a service provider, having a client agreement with the above clauses will help protect your passion and your business.
Finally while not a clause and not essential, but certainly preferable IMHO as an attorney who has seen soooo many (way too many) overly complicated coaching contracts cross my desk throughout the years. It's critical that every coaching agreement or agreement template is easy to understand, written in Plain-English (legal-easy) and not legalese unintelligible and confusing lawyer jargon and mumbo jumbo.
If you have more than one client a year who says they would like to have their attorney review the contract before signing - it's probably because your contract is more complicated than it needs to be and due for an upgrade.
While there are some other important clauses included in client contracts (all included in our attorney drafted coaching and service provider contract templates written and perfected specifically for the online and the coaching industry) you now know the bare essentials of what needs to be in your contract.
It might be a good idea to pull out the coaching contract you are using (please be using something) to see if it is up to snuff!
To learn more of our to view my done-for-you contracts for your niche, check out The Legal Shop. They are available for instant download and can save the day!
Sarah Kornblet Waldbuesser, Esq.
Attorney for Coaches & Online Business Owners
After several years at a law firm and a few career jumps, she ended up falling in love with online business and loves helping entrepreneurs achieve their dreams in a smart and protected way. She is also an adventurer, traveler, and food and wine lover. When not at her computer, she loves hanging with her family, having wine with friends, flying around the globe and connecting with other online business owners.