My favorite conversations with business owners as they are starting their business, and obsessing over protecting their assets and preventing their liability:
Client: “My number one priority is protecting myself and limiting my liability.”
Client: “Oh I’m good, I found some forms on Google, copy-pasted them and just changed my company name…”
Me: *face palm*
I get it guys. (Kind of). You’re a smart, capable person. There are zillions of forms on the internet, and a swift Google search should get you something resembling what you need. A few keystrokes and minutes later you have a frankenstein-ed agreement that *should* work. Right? I’m sorry to burst your bubble, but today I’m debunking that notion - why you actually SHOULDN’T trust those forms you find (and use) on the internet.
1. You’re not going to eat food if you don’t know when, where and how it was made. Why would you use a form off the internet that you don’t know when, where, by whom, or for what purpose it was made.
If you are truly concerned about your liability, protection, and covering your bases, you should make sure that your forms are made to fit your purposes. Period.
2. I’ve never met a generic form off the internet that wasn’t missing something. Like something really important. I’ve come across “rock solid” forms missing big ticket items like indemnification, medical waivers and photo releases. I’ve read Privacy Policies for online international businesses that aren’t GDPR compliant but claim to be. I’ve read Member Agreements that forget to talk about charging + billing their clients.
Between law school, all my years practicing as a corporate attorney, and my even more years of working in the fitness + creative industries as a studio owner, business investor and consultant, I know EXACTLY what needs to go in those forms of yours. And It’s easy peasy for me to spot exactly what’s missing.
Even if you do manage to find a decent form online, it still needs a thorough read-through to make sure it covers your bases.
3. I’ve never met a generic form that explained things easily + adequately. Agreements don’t have to be filled with run-on sentences and sentences the size of a paragraph, or be confusing on purpose. In fact, they should be exactly the opposite. Concise. Clear. Easy to read and understand. Gets the job done in in the minimum number of pages possible.
What happens when things are confusing - you don’t know what your agreement really says. You don’t fully understand your rights and obligations. You don’t really understand what your clients are bound to. See where I’m going here?
4. Laws + regulations differ across states and industries, and now even internationally. Did you know that if you have an internet business with potential international clients + subscribers your business should be compliant with the terms of the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) that came out of the EU? Or that certain states require fitness studios to register with a regulating board? Or that depending on your industry you may be required to have additional language in client agreements protecting your client?
Chances are, unless you know all of your state + industry’s requirements, you’re going to miss something, potentially huge. Best case scenario it’s an easy fix, maybe a small fine/processing fee. Worst case scenario, your business is exposed to crushing liability or debts.
5. You have 24/7 access to a knowledgeable, experienced, friendly attorney + business coach who can provide you with agreements and documents for the equivalent price of a couple training sessions. Or one paid social media post or blog. Or a nice dinner out. Yup, that affordable.
Help in the contract/agreement department shouldn’t cost you an arm and a leg. Save yourself the headache, the time you’ll spend staring at a computer screen trying to edit someone else’s agreement to make it “yours”, worrying that the form you have won’t be sufficient enough to cover your bases if something goes wrong.
There’s a TON of great free stuff on the internet - videos of puppies, recipes for a great dinner party, workout videos. Your piece of mind shouldn’t be free. Protecting you and your assets shouldn’t be free. You know the saying - you get what you pay for.
You know I’m always here for you guys. If you want to discuss the state of your business’ agreements: email me, leave a message below, message me on Instagram, carrier owl me a scroll, whatever’s clever. I got you covered. (Spoiler alert: my initial 15-minute consults are COMPLIMENTARY so what are you waiting for?!)