Having what we call a 1:1 Client Agreement (AKA Coaching Client Agreement, Client Contract or Coaching Contract) in place that contains minimally all of the following clauses in writing goes a LONG way in protecting your business with a great offense. And if you know me, you know it’s my passion to help YOU #protectyourpassion® - so let's get into it!
One of the questions I get asked most often is this:
Sarah, what’s the #1 thing I need to start my coaching business?
Hands down this is ALWAYS my answer EVERY TIME ... your coaching contract!
Believe it or not ... You don’t need a website yet, you don’t need an LLC yet and you don’t even need a sales page yet.
What you do need is:
➡️ A contract (signed by all the parties involved)
➡️ A way to collect payment
That’s it my friends! We don’t need to overcomplicate things and get bogged down by #allthethings in the beginning. It doesn't matter if you are a business coach, a life coach or a health and wellness coach, the same rule always applies.
As you grow your business and start to bring on more clients and work with people in different ways, there are more legal protections you will want and need. But for now - your 1:1 coaching contract is IT.
This is the document that protects your sales, keeps you from being sued and creates the right kind of boundaries with your clients.
Here are the different clauses your client contract should have and a bit about what they mean.
✔️ Terms: Terms of the service they are purchasing (what exactly are you providing? when are you providing it? for what period of time will you be providing it? in what ways will you be, and not be providing it?)
(and not to get off on a rant from the start, but you as a coach, which makes you an independent contractor, and more likely than not, an online business owner ... you are your own boss and need to have clear boundaries in every one of your coaching relationships.
This clause of the contract is where the parties agree on the responsibilities each will have under this contract. This is where you get to create how your coaching process works - a critical aspect of setting up the "coaching relationship right ... right from the start."
Need 24/48/72 hours notice of any cancellations so your schedule isn't always in limbo? #terms
Want to make it clear you aren't available nights and weekends? #terms
Is it important that your client uses their package within 3 months (and isn't hanging around for 3 years) #terms
This is where you get to create a contract that works for you!
✔️ Refund Policy: Your refund policy (what happens if they miss a payment? if they aren’t happy with your services? if they initiate a chargeback with their credit card company or Paypal?)
✔️ Payment schedule: All the payment details and payment terms (what is the fee for your coaching program? what happens if payment is not made? what happens if a client is late with payments? what if the client goes MIA and stops making the agreed upon payments to complete the program/plan they contracted with you on and then what is your recourse as the coach or coaching company?)
✔️ IP: Protection for your intellectual property (who owns what? who can the client share your material with if anybody? can they resell any or part of what you share with them?)
✔️ 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? a brass knuckles back-alley brawl?)
✔️ Non Disparagement (can your client trash you on Facebook, Instagram and TiKTok because they received marginal results from your program on account of them not regularly showing up for calls and when they did, refusing to be coachable? can they say anything negative about you, your coaching company, its products and services?)
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 the attorney drafted coaching contract template written and perfected specifically for coaches and the coaching industry) you now know the bare essentials of what needs to be in your coaching 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 because a good legal offense is the best defense when it comes to being a coach!
Need a client agreement? Head over HERE to get your coaching contract legal template written by me, Sarah Kornblet Waldbuesser, Attorney for Coaches TODAY!
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.