In this episode, Yasmine breaks down why understanding the legal side of things is an absolute game-changer. It’s not just about the suits and jargon – it’s about saving time, cash, and keeping your stress levels in check.
First off, contracts. Yasmine spills the tea on why having solid contracts is a non-negotiable in the
business game. Think of it as your secret weapon – clear terms, no surprises, and a whole lot of peace of mind.
Then, we’re chatting about official business structures. It’s one of those things you’ll be glad you took care of and set yourself up for future success & growth.
Next on the list — intellectual property. Ever wondered how to protect your genius ideas & creative content? Yasmine’s got the deets on trademarks and copyrights, so you can keep those valuable assets safe and sound.
And last but not least, storing customer data. It’s not the Wild West — there are all kinds of laws we need to be aware of in order to let our business thrive. And if you’re here, we know you want that!
Get ready for a dose of legal insights that’ll level up your business game. Yasmine’s got your back, so hit play and let’s get down to business 🎙💼
Even though sometimes it feels like it’s the Wild West, it’s not. There are laws in place. There are rules in place when it comes to marketing and advertising online. using other people’s content to market you never want to do that without their permission. Welcome to the Business of Doing Business podcast with Yasmine Salem Hamdan.
Hey, everyone, and welcome back to another episode of the Business of Doing Business podcast. I am so excited for today’s episode, because it will be our first introduction into legal stuff, which I know is not like the most exciting or sexy stuff. But listen, stick with me, because this is the stuff that will make a huge difference in your experience. As a business owner and entrepreneur, this can save you hours and hours and hours of time, this can save you thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars. And it can save you from being super, super, super stressed. Because that is what happens when you find yourself facing a sticky legal situation is you become really stressed out, you’re scrambling to try and figure things out.
And if you’re clueless when it comes to your contracts, or your entity, or your intellectual property, you’re gonna be stressed. And I want you to avoid that. And the great news is it’s avoidable. You just got to have the knowledge and the resources available to you in order to be proactive, which is what I’m all about. And that’s what we’re all about at coachesandcompany.com. So, and here at the Business of Doing Business podcast, so you’re in the right place.
Let’s talk about legally protecting ourselves and our businesses. There’s one thing that I really wish every single business owner and entrepreneur knew. And it’s that you are totally capable of figuring this out, you are more than capable of getting your legal protections in place. It’s not something that you need a law degree to do. It’s not something that you need to invest thousands and thousands of dollars in hiring a law firm to have taken care of, it’s none of that. It’s something that you’re totally capable of doing, you’re not the first entrepreneur to do this, and you’re not the last entrepreneur that will do this, I’m just going to be here to help you do it a lot easier.
And also to really grasp a strong and clear understanding of these different concepts. So we’re going to talk about a couple of different things today, for those of you who are selling services or digital products online. And when I talk about doing it online, I’m talking about if you are marketing online, selling online, and delivering your service or your product online.
Now first things first, I’ve got to hit you, of course got to hit you with a disclaimer, but also I’ve got to let you know that one, anything and everything that I share on this podcast, this episode, and otherwise, is not custom legal advice for you. Because I don’t know you and your situation. Yeah, I might know you, we might be friends, actually. But I don’t know the ins and outs of your situation.
And if you need legal advice from an attorney, you need somebody who understands the ins and outs of your business and the different details of your circumstances, in order for them to be able to provide you with clear and actionable advice that pertains to your specific situation. So everything I’m sharing is for information and educational purposes only. Second, I really want to encourage you to establish a relationship with a lawyer in your jurisdiction. So every jurisdiction, if you’re in the US, we have 50 different jurisdictions, which is wild to say, but it’s just reality. Every state has its own business laws on the books.
So if you are a business owner, I highly encourage you to establish a relationship with a lawyer, a business lawyer who is local to you even better if they specialize in your specific industry or niche. But having an established relationship with a lawyer that understands your business that understands where you were in business, where you are now, and where you plan to be in the future is gold, I mean that can help you immensely as situations come up in your business, having somebody who already understands your business and is familiar with it. And that way you can go to them instead of going to somebody totally new and giving them the Cliff Notes in 15 minutes, and then asking them what you should do.
Having somebody who already understands and is familiar with your business is a lifesaver at times. So I want to encourage you to do that. Okay, so what are we talking about today? We’re going to talk about what do I actually need to legally protect my business and to legally start my business. So maybe you’ve already started your business, maybe you’ve been in business for a while. Either way, what we’re going to discuss today is totally relevant. And we’re going to talk about four main points. We’re going to talk about having contracts in place because y’all already know if you’ve been in my world for a while. I’m all about the contracts, honey.
So we’re going to talk about the contracts and having those in place because it’s so important. And actually it’s your first line of defense in many instances to help you avoid bigger legal problems, so having contracts in place. Second, we’re going to talk about forming a business entity like an LLC or a corporation. Third, we’re going to talk about understanding intellectual property, otherwise known as IP. And then fourth, we’re going to talk about legal and ethical considerations when marketing and advertising as it relates to consumer protection.
Because if you’re a business, you are working with consumers, and you’re serving consumers, and the law has certain laws in place that protect consumers. So we’re going to talk about that. Okay, so let’s talk about contracts. Why do we need to have contracts in place? I’m obviously biased, but I am also speaking from a place of experience, and I have seen some wild stuff y’all in business, let me just say, I’ve seen some wild stuff. I’ve seen some outrageous things and one common thread. And if you’re watching the video, I’m like scratching my head. I feel like there’s a fuzz in my eye or something. So sorry about that.
But one common thread is that almost all disputes that come up with clients could have been avoided, had the terms been specified in the contract. So let me say that, again, I’m gonna say 99% of client problems that I saw, in my law, my legal practice, when working with clients, and that I see in my friends, businesses today, almost all of those problems could have been avoided or resolved, had there been something in the contract that addressed it specifically.
So I’m talking about the what if scenarios, when you work with clients, and the more clients you work with, over time, you’ll find that you get really clear on okay, I need to include this in my contract, we need to establish a policy around this. Let’s think about like as it relates to payments, you know, when you’re working with a client, in your contract, if you’re offering clients and I know a lot of people offer payment plans to their clients, which I think is a great option to provide your clients from an accessibility standpoint, and making your service accessible to others who might otherwise not have been able to work with you at this point of time, but offering them a payment plan, and we’ll talk more about payment plans in the future.
I have a lot of thoughts and tips on offering payment plans. But for now, let’s talk about what you want to put in your contract. If you are offering a payment plan, you want to be really specific as to, you know, what they owe, and when and what constitutes a late payment. So some policies you want to include in that contract in order to reduce the likelihood of more problems arising.
So this is an example is, you know, what constitutes when is a payment considered late? Is there a late payment fee that you’re able to apply to their account in the event that they are late? And if they need to modify their payment plan. how can they go about doing that? And so that can help you avoid negotiating in real-time, which is something I talk about a lot. And it’s that if you don’t have a policy in place. If you or if you don’t have a contract in place, you find yourself negotiating in real-time with your clients all the time.
And there’s a lot at risk when you’re negotiating with a client in real-time, the whole client relationship can be at risk, the the deal itself, the contract itself, the project itself can be at risk. Because if you find yourself having to negotiate in real-time in the moment with a client, and the negotiation doesn’t go well, or you’re not able to come to an agreement, then the whole relationship can fall apart. Whereas if you had those policies established and in writing, and they agreed to them at the beginning, when that dispute begins to sprout up, you can just go to the contract and look for that clause or look for that policy and say, Okay, well, we already agreed that in the event that this happens, here’s the policy that applies.
And most of the time clients are very happy to or very willing, rather, maybe they’re not exactly happy about it, because maybe it’s not exactly what they wanted in that situation. But in my experience, and the experience of clients that I’ve worked with over the years is that when a client sees that, oh, I actually agreed to this term in the contract when I signed it, okay, let’s apply it, and they move forward, and the relationship is no longer at risk.
So having the terms of your relationships, every single business relationship you’re in, whether it’s a client or a customer, employees or contractors, collaborators or other people that you’re partnering with, having the terms of the relationship in writing, that is the best way in my opinion to all but guarantee a successful, productive working relationship with your clients, and your team members and your partners and whoever it is that you’re working with.
I would encourage you to not accept payment without a written contract in place. It’s a recipe for disaster, none of the handshake stuff, none of the like short email exchange about what I’m going to provide them and what they’re going to pay me. Have a written contract in place, and that way you’re able to enforce it in the event that you need to.
And of course, this podcast is powered by Coaches and Company. Coaches and Company is a place where you can find all the contracts that you need to run your business confidently and sell your offers, collect emails and personal data on your website, work with contractors host a podcast like whatever it is that you’re doing, there are contracts that you need. Anytime you’re entering into a relationship, there are contracts you need, and we have everything that you need. instantly downloadable, lawyer created at coachesandcompany.com.
If you’re listening to this episode, during our launch celebration period, there is a code available for you to engage in the celebrations. And so check the show notes for that. Otherwise, be sure to check out coaches and company for your contract needs. Our second point is forming a business entity, I’m going to keep this I’m trying to keep this whole episode short and sweet because of course, we’re gonna go into depth on all of these concepts in the future in future episodes.
But with forming a business entity, when you form a business entity, if you’re in the US, you form it at the state level, you go to the Secretary of State’s office, you don’t have to go there in person, of course, I guess you could maybe but they might even tell you if you got there in prison, they might say, honey, go do that online. We don’t file that in person. But I don’t know I can’t speak for every jurisdiction in the US. We have 50 jurisdictions, 50 different states. And every state has a Secretary of State’s office. And that is the office that oversees forming of entities like LLCs, and corporations.
Those are the two most popular entities that you’ll want to get familiar with. Not to say that you need to get familiar with both of them. But those are the two common options for a small business owner. They’re very similar in that the whole point is to create something that’s separate from you. The whole point is to create something that stands on its own and is not tied to you personally. And that way, if anything goes south in the business, you are protected from a liability standpoint, your personal assets are protected, and you personally are not on the hook.
As far as what the differences between the two corporations and LLCs, like I said are very similar. Corporations just have more formalities they have more requirements in order to maintain the status of the corporation. If you are a standard issue, small business owner like myself, I don’t have a ton of you know, investors or shareholders or business partners, I didn’t take on any venture capital, I don’t plan to issue stock in my business in the future, an LLC is a great fit for me because there are less formalities and record keeping required in order to maintain the liability protection.
So it’s a great fit for a lot of business owners, it might be a great fit for you, I would explore both of those options. Either way, once you form your LLC or your corporation, you will want to go to the IRS website and get your EIN which is your employer identification number. This is essentially your like tax ID number for the federal government. So that’s their way of identifying your business as a taxpayer.
Let me make a note before I move on to the next step, if you’re at on a website that’s asking you to pay for your EIN, you’re on the wrong website, your EIN is free to get from the IRS website, you should not pay for it, it’s pretty straightforward, you could do it in like 10 minutes tops, so get your EIN. And then once you have that EIN number and you have your Certificate of Formation or articles of organization, or whatever your Secretary of State’s office calls the document that shows you formed your LLC or your corporation, then you can take both of those documents to the bank of your choice and open a business checking account, I highly encourage you to do that.
And here’s why. Because once you form your business, you have a business bank account, you can start to create that actual separation between you the individual you the person and the business that you’re forming, and the business activity that you’re engaging in. And so having that business bank account, once you form it, and you open it up, tie that account to all of your business accounts as far as payment collection goes. So any payment processor, your PayPal, if you’re using Stripe or Square or any other payment processing platform, tie all of those to your business checking account.
And that way all of your business revenue goes directly to your business account. Let me elaborate as to why you want to make sure why that’s very important that you do that. And it’s because you want to make sure that you’re actually treating your business like it’s separate from you. So you never want to commingle your funds or mix your personal expenses and your business expenses or have your business revenue going directly to your personal account, or you’re paying your personal expenses out of your business account.
That’s because if push comes to shove and you find yourself facing a lawsuit, and a judge is looking at your business and saying okay, should we maintain this business owner’s liability protection? Or are they all one in the same, they’re gonna look at how you are treating it. And if you are treating it as all one in the same, it’s highly likely that they’re going to treat it as all one in the same. So you really want to make sure that you are maintaining that separation so that you can have the benefits of the LLC or the corporation.
Okay, so that’s two, three: let’s talk about IP for a little bit intellectual property. These are intangible creations of the human intellect. So these are creations and assets that you can’t physically hold and touch It’s not like a house or a car or a piece of gold. But I argue that it’s more valuable than gold, in fact, and maybe more valuable than your house and your car. And these are your trademarks and your copyright assets. So before you are like, I don’t know what the hell that is, don’t worry, I’m going to share this with you. And I like to illustrate it as a present as a box.
So you can picture a box that has packaging or wrapping on the outside of it, and there’s something inside the box, but then we’re looking on the outside. And that packaging on the outside gives us an idea of where this box came from, who shipped it, where is it from, the kinds of things that you’re going to see on the packaging of the box, are your company name, your logo, your slogan, your tagline, the colors that are unique to your business, maybe the name of your podcast, or the name of your program.
These are all the labels on the outside of the box. And these are all of your trademark assets. Trademarks are source identifiers. Another example I think of Nike, as a company, this is certainly one of the most popular trademark portfolios that most consumers are familiar with. They have three major trademark assets, their company name, Nike, their logo, the swoosh symbol, or the check mark. And then their slogan, which of course is just do it. These are their trademark assets.
So when we’re looking at this box, and the packaging outside, that’s your company name, your brand name, your slogan, your tagline your logo, those are your trademark assets. And of course, there’s a lot of value in that. And we’re going to talk more about that in the future. Now we open up the box, and we look inside the contents of the box are literally content. And those are your copyright assets, copyright assets, our original works of art or authorship.
So this includes written works, audio works, visual works, anything like blog posts, your website copy, your social media captions, your podcast recordings, videography, photography, graphic design, anything that is an original work of art or authorship qualifies as a copyright asset. When you own the rights to a copyright asset, you have the exclusive rights to the use of it, to publish it, to repurpose it, to create derivative works based on it, to license the use of it to others, to profit off of it.
When you have the exclusive rights to the use of a trademark you the name of your company, the name of your brand, the name of your program, you have the exclusive rights to the use of that commercially in connection with your industry generally in connection with the types of products or services that you’re selling. So there’s a lot of value in protecting your intellectual property. And the first step is understanding what IP is, and identifying the IP within your business. And I’m willing to bet, if you’re listening to this, you’re probably hearing it and thinking okay, well, I already have some IP assets.
So take some time to identify what those intellectual property assets are. And we’re going to talk more about that in future episodes. And then fourth. And finally, I want to talk about legal and ethical considerations when you’re marketing and advertising online. First up is when you’re collecting data from users online, maybe in your marketing efforts, you have a free resource, otherwise known as a lead magnet, where you are collecting people’s email addresses, their name and email address, in exchange for joining your newsletter, accessing a free download or a program of some kind, or attending an event, whatever it might be, if you’re collecting anybody’s personal data, even if it is just their name and email address.
Making sure that you are staying on the clear side of marketing online and promoting your services and being very clear as to what exactly your clients can expect can help you avoid refund requests, disgruntled clients, bad reviews, your reputation being affected, etc. And I welcome all of your questions. So please send us a DM on Instagram or you can submit your questions through our Ask Yaz form TBODB.com That’s thebusinessofdoingbusiness.com You can type it out in full or you can go to tbodb.com. And I look forward to hearing from you and if you liked this episode, share this episode with a friend.
Specifically someone who is also engaged in business activity is selling services or selling products online. I always like to think of a business as you know, you want to build the brick fortress, you don’t want to build the house of cards, you don’t want something that can come tumbling down. And it’s not sustainable. And you can’t rely on it. You want something that you know, can withstand the test of time. And the test of entrepreneurship, because there are a lot of things that can come your way, it’s not a matter of if you’re going to face legal issues.
It’s a matter of when, and the goal is to be prepared and to be proactive and to be ready to face it head-on, not waiting for the other shoe to drop or waiting to do damage control because damage control is always more expensive. It’s always more time-consuming, and it’s all avoidable. You know, we can be proactive, we can take action early on. And I’m here to help you do that. So please leave a review. If you can share this with a friend. I will chat with you in the next episode. Talk to you soon. Peace.
Hey, friend. Thanks for listening to this episode of the Business of Doing Business podcast powered by coaches and company.com. If you enjoyed what you heard, please share it with a friend or to your social media and tag us at Coaches and Company. And if you haven’t already, subscribe to the podcast so you never miss an episode. The best way to support this podcast is by leaving us a review wherever you’re listening to it now, it takes just a few seconds to do so and makes a huge difference to us as an independently produced podcast and can help us continue to create great content for our listeners.
Also, you can find more tips and resources for your business by visiting coaches and company.com and by following us on Instagram at Yasmine Salem Hamdan, and at coaches and company if you have any questions or comments, any topic requests for future episodes, or maybe you want to be a guest on our show, you can reach me directly by emailing Hello at coaches and company.com. Thanks again for listening and I’ll see you next time!