Let’s dig into the top 3 ways (legally) to make sure you keep all the $$ you earn in your coaching business.
It’s a new year. WHEW. We made it. There is so much hoopla that comes with January ONE … and if you’re anything like me you are feeling a mix of overwhelm and excitement about the months ahead (and if you’re really like me and entering your third trimester of pregnancy you have a whole other mix of things happening!).
As a coach you are no doubt thinking about how to grow and continue to build a thriving business this year. But between thoughts of increased revenue, program launches and funnels, you may also be thinking … do I really have all my legal ducks in a row? Do I even need a contract? And why do I keep hearing about trademarks?
Don’t worry, I have your back - with the top 3 ways to ensure your coaching business (and thus your hard earned income) is legally protected this year. Let’s begin with a question … did you know your business rests (legally) upon a proverbial 3 legged stool? And just like how a 3 legged stool you plant your butt on will support your body … take away any one or more legs and you fall flat on your ass …. Well the same is true in your biz.
Get a COACHING CONTRACT: This is hands down the most important thing you can do for your business this year. NO QUESTION. It’s not a new website, it’s not building a funnel, it’s a 1:1 coaching contract.
Having a contract in place is literally the foundation of your business. It outlines the terms of your services, payment policies, includes liability protection for you as a coach, keeps you from getting sued and creates boundaries and keeps expectations in check with your client. And all in a few pages - your coaching contract packs a very powerful punch!
Protect your group programs & courses with TERMS OF PURCHASE: As your coaching business grows, you will very likely start to offer more programs, masterminds, and courses (yay you!). Well these programs need a contract too, but for these you need Terms of Purchase. This contract is similar to your 1:1 coaching contract but can be agreed to at the point of purchase (without signature) so it’s easy to have 10, 20, or 200 people sign up while you enjoy the sound of your cash register ringing. Having a program or course opens your biz up to a different type of liability, and these Terms help make it clear to your clients what they are (and are not) getting when signing up.
TRADEMARK your brand: Did you know that rebranding is a pain, expensive and can be a huge undertaking? I know, because I have personally taken on several rebrands over the years because it made business sense, it’s what I wanted to do in my business (read: it was my choice).
But being sued for trademark infringement is way worse. Not only do you have to rebrand (aka you are forced to rebrand by a trademark holder) but you could potentially be on the hook to pay BIG $$$ to settle with that trademark holder to avoid a long, drawn-out, costly and soul-crushing legal proceeding. It will double suck for you if you’ve been building a now-known brand for years and/or you really love your biz name, mastermind, or podcast name.
The ONLY way to protect yourself from lawsuits, settlements and forced rebrands is to OWN YOUR BRAND. And the only way to own your brand is to register a trademark. Trademark registration is a process you go through with the US Patent and Trademark Office to secure ownership of your brand - it can take up to a year, is a powerful investment in your biz, is something you want to do with an attorney (hi!) and is totally worth it (it can even be a bit addicting). The key though is to secure your names EARLY or risk someone else pulling that name right out from under you.
But also keep in mind - your beautiful wonderful trademark (just a single sheet of paper) plays both offense and defense - meaning when a competitor comes on the scene and attempts to benefit (knowingly or unknowingly) on your brand - YOU have the power to shut them down and force them to rebrand.
Obviously there may be some other i’s to dot and t’s to cross to make sure your business is completely protected but this is a fantastic start and a way to ensure that 2021 is absolutely your best year yet.
Still a bit confused or have additional questions, here are two ways I can help:
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.