As an online coach, there’s nothing more rewarding than witnessing the incredible results our clients get when they use our products and services. We get glowing testimonials, heartfelt thank yous, social media shoutouts and maybe even some referrals that help keep our own businesses thriving. *Cue the confetti!* 🎉
We feel so proud of our clients for their hard work and commitment to our coaching methods that every client win can feel like a personal win.
But here’s the thing – no matter how *game-changing* your coaching is, you’ve GOT to take the steps to protect yourself against liability when working with clients.
Every time you bring on a new client, there’s a potential you could land in legal hot water if you’re not careful to put protections in place. We promise we’re not not being drama queens 👸🏽 the threat of a lawsuit is real, and none of us want to see you get sued, sis.
As coaches, we’re a lot of things, but we’re not fairy godmothers 🧚
The coaching industry has helped SO many of us, but it’s also unregulated. Which means we have to be *incredibly* careful with what we promise and how we present ourselves.
The LAST thing we want is for someone to misinterpret your services, leaving you stressed AF and with a hefty legal bill that could’ve gone towards a new team member or shiny new website 💁🏽
But not to fear! You can do the work NOW to prepare and protect yourself from being held liable for these kinds of situations.
It’s surprisingly easy to put a few things in place to protect yourself from liability when working with clients as an online coach or service provider. Here are three ways you can get started right away 👇🏽
1. Keep the personal and the professional SEPARATE
The MOST important step towards protecting yourself against liability is making sure you have created a separate entity for your business.
Why? Because this creates a separation between your business and anything else in your life.
This can be done by becoming a corporation or an LLC, but there absolutely MUST be a divide between your business assets, contracts, obligations and your personal ones. This way neither one affects the other.
You might be like “Yikes, this sounds like a lot of work. What risk am I *really* taking by not doing this?”
Think of it this way. If you’re operating your business under your name with no entity in place there are all sorts of liabilities that can arise. For example:
- A client misinterprets your coaching as a medical diagnosis
- You default on your business loan
- A client interprets your coaching or course as financial advice or investment advice
- An employee or a contractor files a lawsuit against your business
In every single one of these scenarios, if you are not operating as a separate business entity YOU could be on the hook for these liabilities PERSONALLY.
Pro tip: This does not mean that you can’t have a personal brand for your coaching business/online business. You can still use your name as your business brand name, but your personal brand still needs to be tied to a separate entity.
Otherwise all your personal assets and you as an individual could be held liable. By creating a separate entity your liability becomes limited, and only the assets within that entity are accessible to liability.
Trust us…it’s WAY less risky that way. 😅
Friend, if you have been looking for a reason to start creating separation between yourself and your business THIS IS YOUR SIGN.
2. The D-word: You need to include DISCLAIMERS
The next step in protecting yourself from liabilities is to always clearly include disclaimers in your client contracts.
We know you are a brilliant, talented, smart, and powerful coach but unfortunately that isn’t a replacement for a doctor, financial advisor, or lawyer. You’re a coach and a really awesome one, so let’s keep it that way. #KnowYourLimitsSis
Including disclaimers gives you the chance to communicate that you are not providing diagnosis, legal advice, investment advice, or financial advice.
This is especially important for business and finance, health and relationship coaches. You’ve got to make it known:
- As a relationship coach, you may help with working on self-love….but your coaching is *not* a substitute for therapy
- As a health coach, you may help women balance their hormones naturally…but it’s not a replacement for going to the doctor
- As a business coach, you may consult on business finances…but your clients should still consult with a financial advisor before making major decisions when it comes to investments and household finances
It has to be *crystal clear* to your clients that if they DO misinterpret your coaching as these sorts of professional services, and happen to suffer any damages…your business is NOT on the line.
By making the limits of your services clear from the get go, you’ll be protected in case any client does try to claim that you falsely advertised your services as professional medical, legal or financial advice.
3. Don’t make promises you can’t keep
The last step to protecting yourself from liability is all about guarantees.
Remember when we talked about those glowing testimonials and social media shoutouts from happy clients?
Those are great, but every once and a while another client might see those as a representation of guaranteed results – and they can be REALLY upset if they invest in your services and the same thing doesn’t happen for them.
This is why you’ve gotta have a guarantee disclaimer or earnings disclaimer in your client contract. Your clients have to know the results your company shares, either through reviews or promotional materials, are not necessarily guaranteed. They are POSSIBLE and have been achieved by past clients, but cannot be promised. Make sure your client understands that not not achieving their desired results isn’t necessarily grounds for a refund.
Get the bag and then KEEP the bag, girl! 💰
Introducing the possibility that your method might NOT work for your client right as you enter an agreement with them can feel pessimistic or awkward, but trust us…your business is worth protecting.
Let’s be honest – it’s a tough pill to swallow when you see your method isn’t working for a particular client. It’s most likely not even your fault, but it’s easy to fall into the trap where you begin to blame or doubt yourself. No one likes to see their clients or students struggle to grow their business or achieve their goals! You feel responsible. But for real – it’s *way* harder if you actually ARE legally or financially responsible because you didn’t lay the foundation to protect yourself and business.
Ready to protect yourself?
If you needed a little extra push to get started with the process here it is – all of our coaching contracts, whether you offer 1-1 coaching, group coaching, digital products/courses, ALREADY include the disclaimers you need to protect yourself from any type of liability. We’ve got you covered!
Check out our ready-to-use, lawyer-approved, plug-and-play legal contract templates! So you can upgrade your client contract while staying Profitable & Protected™✨
Not sure where to begin? We’ve got you. Grab our FREE Legally Launch Handbookto get the legal lowdown on everything in entrepreneurship, without the confusing mambo jumbo. We’re serving it up straight & to the point. (Heads up: It’ll forever transform the way you view your client relationships!) Grab your copy now.
*The information presented in this blog post is for educational & informational purposes only. This should not be a substitute for customized legal advice from a licensed professional in a private setting. If you need legal advice, please consult with an attorney. This is not a law firm.