When most coaches first come to me, they already know they need to get their legals in place – they may have heard cautionary tales of refund requests or unrealistic client expectations from other coaches, or maybe their own coaches or coaching academies have stressed the importance - but they don’t know where to begin or what to prioritise.
One of my members this week compared it to the horrible feeling you get (if you’re anything like me!) when you take your car to the garage to be fixed.
You know it’s something you have to do, but you feel helpless and lost, you don’t understand the lingo and there’s a constant nagging feeling that you’re being ripped off.
Here then, to set you off on the right path, is a no frills list of the four types of legal protection you need to prioritise as a coach:
It could be a one to one agreement or it could be terms and conditions of service for an online sign up.
Either way this is your Number One Priority AND please please note that this is just as important, if not more so, when you are starting out and offering sessions to family, friends, and friends of friends.
Even more important to respect and safeguard these relationships, don’t you think?
Your client contract does all sorts of fabulous things, but most importantly it:
Sets the tone for your relationship with your clients
Saves you the hassle factor by making sure your policies are respected
Manages expectations about the nature of coaching and how it differs from medical treatment
Explains your client’s responsibility for taking action (you’re a coach not a miracle worker!!)
And protects you if things go wrong (HINT – this is the bit that helps you sleep soundly at night….not to mention your partner if you jointly own your home!)
These documents: make sure you comply with GDPR, cookie and other regulations; protect your content; and limit your liability in respect of the information on your website.
They do an important technical job in their own right – but they also make you look professional and like you are on top of your game (which, of course, you are :).
So make sure you get the right things in the right place and that they are up to date.
Even if you don’t sell your services through your website, you need the following:
GDPR compliant privacy notice
Cookie consent in line with the IPO 2019 guidelines
Wherever you collect contact details (check your contact form and any free gift opt ins), the correct consent to use personal data as you would like going forward
And in addition, if your clients sign up for your services through your website, you need your terms and conditions of sale.
You spend time and energy – as well as money - on getting great content together and building your brand. Make sure you look after it as much as you can by putting in place the following protection:
Protect your client materials with an IP clause in your client contract, making sure your clients know the materials are for their own internal business purposes only and not for sharing with third parties. Again, put a copyright notice at the foot of every page.
A written contract with any third parties that create things for you – graphic designers, Vas, web developers, copywriters and so on (if you don’t put it in writing…they keep ownership of the IP!)
Consider whether you should trademark your name. It is less complicated and expensive than you probably think….
Undertake a regular check of your IP and make sure you are doing all the things. It is an important asset of your business.
You need written contracts with all your important outsourcers and suppliers.
Typical examples would be VAs, web designers, social media managers and copywriters. You get the picture!
These agreements are important because they:
Bring clarity to the relationship which helps you to avoid future hassles
Make sure you get the IP in anything they create especially for you
Protect your tax position and make sure you have protection from any unwanted tax consequences.
If your supplier wants you to sign their contract, make sure it has these basic provisions to protect you.
They may not be uppermost in your supplier’s mind – in fact in many cases they wont even be aware of points 2 and 3.
I hope this list of basics is helpful for you.
Now you’ve taken the first important step to getting legally sorted, I’d love to help you keep up the momentum!
Click on this link to get my free client contract help sheet and to join my email list where you’ll receive lots of useful free legal hints and tips for coaches.
When you sign up you will also have the chance to join my Facebook Group ‘Legals for Coaches’, where I dive deeper with lots of juicy info and I can even answer specific questions you might have on the legal foundations you need to protect YOUR business.
I look forward to seeing you in there!