Coaching is all the rage when it comes to starting your own business. Everyone is jumping into it, however, I'm not so quite sure everyone is really thinking it fully through for protecting themselves. It's one of those things that you really want to make sure you take care of yourself and set yourself up for success, legally, before you find out the hard way.
Karen Taggart is an attorney who now helps small businesses get their businesses set up and protected the right way. She went over some great steps to protect your coaching business.
The first thing Karen suggests is having a disclaimer in place. Karen suggests putting it right on your Home Page, but also put it in anything that you sell. Some states, like California, disclaimers are required if you're not licensed under the state to be in the healing arts practice. So depending on where you live, there may be specific requirements if it's health related, if they can make more money by doing what you're doing, etc. However, this shouldn't paralyze you from going out there and putting out blog posts, etc. You might be fine by not doing this, but protecting yourself will help you feel more at ease.
Is this something you have specifically sign? Karen recommends doing both. It's just usually better to cover yourself. You want to say things like coaching isn't therapy, you're not promising making millions in a month, etc. The main thing any legal document does is to set up clear understanding to avoid misunderstandings in the future.
The third thing you really should have is a Client Agreement. This should be part of your client intake process, even if it's not a paid engagement. Coaches are typically helping someone find clarity in whatever project they're doing. You want to say what you're going to provide, and what they can expect from you, along with what they can expect from you. Layout the time frame, the frequency of meetings, and how the meetings are conducted. Also put something in there if someone misses a meeting, how do you handle make-ups, cancellations, etc. It's all about trying to avoid surprises. Also cover the total due, the amounts for payment, and when payments are due. Money can also be a misunderstanding point.
One of main things the Client Agreement does is it shows the commitment between two parties. You also want to lay out what happens if either party isn't happy with the service, etc. Use your past history, if you have any to help guide what you want to avoid in the future. Karen also recommends using a program to have the client electronically sign the document.
Do attorneys having information about what's being realistic in what you're asking in your agreements? Yes, they can give you advice because if what you're asking is unreasonable, a judge can later throw that out in court. So it really doesn't do you much good to have it in your contract.
More About Karen: Karen Taggart helps wanna-be and new business owners feel confident and protected because they understand the basics of business law. As an Attorney for Entrepreneurs, she’s been featured by the NiceOps 2015 Planathon, Reverie Coaching, Motherpedia, NewMama Welcome Pack Blog Hop, Happy Wives Club Blog Hop, and as a Badass'd Biz & Ink's Garage Party VIP. When she’s not working on her business, you can find her spending time with her cutie-pie daughter and high school sweetheart hubby. Her recently-released guide — "Top 5 Things You MUST Do To Protect Your Biz" — is free and available on her website. Find out how to get started building a solid legal foundation for your business at http://karen-taggart.com.
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