What are the best ways to protect you and your business legally? What considerations should you have? These are questions I asked Layne Lyons, lawyer and legal expert.
What you will learn in this episode:
- The importance of legal protection
- What are the consequences of ignoring legal protection
- How to make a safe contract
- The worst legal leaks and how to prevent them
About Layne Lyons:
Entrepreneurs need to protect their businesses and their peace of mind. As a lawyer and legal expert, Layne will help you have total confidence, knowing all your hard work is protected, so you can grow the business of your dreams without ever holding back or looking over your shoulder with worry. Layne believes that legal stuff doesn't have to be intimidating and overwhelming. She is here to make it simple, straightforward, and easy to understand with real-life examples and funny relatable stories to help you feel comfortable and ready to take action, so you can get your business buttoned-up and set up for success.
Connect with Layne:
TP: Hello, today, we're speaking about legal protection and my guest is Layne Lyons. Welcome, Layne.
LL: Hi, lovely to be here. Hi, everyone.
TP: You have stressed that you are passionate about protection. Can you tell us why? Can you please tell us your story?
LL: Absolutely. So, you know, I think the best way that we become passionate about something is when we have a personal experience ourselves and sometimes experiences that feel and you're going to hear listening to the story, it's going to feel like a negative experience. Right. Something that really could have stopped me in my tracks. But I actually was able to pivot with it and turn it into something wonderful. It was the catalyst for me becoming really passionate about protections. So I got burned. Yep. I'm a lawyer and I got burned. So I was coaching and I got approached by another coach to do a collaboration, sort of like a joint venture. And even though I knew better. I allowed myself to get into the working relationship with her with no written agreement. I mean, I know why I did it right. I did it for the same reason that I hear from a lot of my clients about why they feel before they work with me resistant to using contracts. Right. Everything was in the flow. Everything was harmonious. We were in alignment. And I didn't want to come in with a contract and make everything feel cold and harsh and argumentative. I didn't want to lawyer up, if you will. So against my better judgment, I remained quiet and we proceeded into the collaboration with no written agreement. And after several months of working together, she ended up swiping everything that we had created together and cutting me out. And I got completely burned. So all of my content was gone. All of my money that I invested was gone. All of the money that I was going to get from the collaboration was gone and all of my hard work was down the drain. And I know I should have known better because I'm a lawyer, for Pete's sake, but I really never imagined that anything like that would happen. And at the end of the day, there was nothing that I could do because I had nothing in writing to protect myself. But here comes the pivot. Here comes the good part. So, of course, when it immediately happened, I felt shocked and I felt angry and then typical me, I got motivated. And right then and there, I sat down to my computer and I began drafting all of the agreements that I wish that I would have had with her, like everything that I would have needed to protect myself. And when I was done with that, I reached out to several of my coaching friends to say, like, hey, what contracts are you using? Like as as a solo based online entrepreneur, what protections do you have in place in your businesses? What contracts are you using? And universally, I got the same answer. We don't have any. So I sat down, I realized the need for this, and I sat down and I started drafting all of the agreements that every entrepreneur needs to protect herself, her business and all her hard work. So I didn't start out just feeling woke up one day feeling passionate about protections. It was really because I needed to be protected and I got burned by not being protected, that I became so, so excited about protections and realized really what can go wrong in a woman's business when she doesn't have these protections in place. So that's where the passion came.
TP: It's a really great story. And I'm so happy that you didn't feel depressed and sad as such, but you really found your motivation and this grew for something better for everybody.
LL: Yeah. Yeah. And, you know, I think here's the thing about protections that I've realized over so many. I've been a lawyer for twenty six years, and the thing that I've realized after focusing on this is that so many women entrepreneurs are looking over their shoulder worrying even if it's not conscious. Right. You know, we do so many things that are that we're aware of, but then we do so many more things like the tip of the underneath part of the iceberg that we're not even aware of. And I see so many women feeling this low level of constant anxiety, looking over their shoulder, worrying that something that they're saying or not saying or something that they're doing or not doing is going to come back and bite them in their buns. And what happens when I see the result of that is that women hold back in their businesses, whether they don't hit publish on their website or don't hit publish on a great blog article or don't share their best content or don't raise their prices or say yes to the bigger and better opportunities or really sign on those high paying clients because something inside of them, this energy is holding them back. So what my mission is, is to help women grow their businesses and help them feel empowered to have that confidence and peace of mind. That comes from knowing that your business is buttoned up, from knowing that you're protected and can get out there. You know, I know a lot of lawyers really come at this subject from like doom and gloom and all the stuff that's going to happen if you don't go if you don't do this and you're going to get sued. But I don't think about it that way at all. I think about it from the way of if you want to grow a strong business, you've got to lay the proper foundations. And legal protections are one of the foundations that will help you have a solid base for your business. Then you can grow anything that you want on top of that.
TP: You have mentioned that we should protect ourselves as an entrepreneur. What does it actually mean and what may happen if we don't?
LL: That is a great question. So let me start with what will happen if you don't. So I believe that getting sued as a solo entrepreneur is a long shot. That is something that has only happened to a handful of women that I have encountered and that I have that have come to me after they have gotten sued. It is a real long shot in business. But having drama flow into your business, that's almost guaranteed when you're visible, when you're on the Internet doing business with other companies and other women that you have never met. And money is changing hands. It is almost inevitable that at some point a little drama is going to flow into your business. So what's going to happen if you don't is that negativity, drama around client relationships, failed expectations, money policies, this drama and this negativity is going to flow into your business and topple the applecart when you're a new business. It's even more risky if you don't have your protections in place, because one bad experience can just make you want to put your head under the covers and shut things down. So and of course, when you're in business for longer, you are more at risk. So we've got to make sure that we're putting things in place to keep that drama out of our business. And which leads me into your second question. What does it mean to protect yourself and and really to speak to my point? How are we going to keep the drama out of our businesses? We do this and it means when you protect yourself, it means making sure that you have clearly stated policies, practices and boundaries with your business. So everyone is on the same page with the same expectations. The biggest thing that falls apart in a relationship between a service based entrepreneur and her clients is failed expectations and that, Tuuli, that can be on either side, either side can have failed expectations. So what I see a lot is an entrepreneur will have her expectations of what services she's going to deliver, what it includes, how much it's going to cost, what the boundaries are, what the communication policies are. She has all of those expectations that she's created for herself, but they're all inside her mind. She hasn't communicated them. She hasn't articulated them to clients who are coming into the business. And then what happens if she doesn't communicate them? Those expectations clearly state what her boundaries, policies and expectations are. She leaves the client to fill in the blanks for her. And what happens is the clients inevitably and one hundred times out of a hundred, fill in those blanks with way grander expectations than what she was ever going to deliver, especially especially when money is changing hands, the client comes in with a very different expectation. And then when we're working with a client who has different expectations and we didn't articulate we weren't the leader, we didn't articulate our expectations or our boundaries or what she could expect when working with us. And she's got different expectations that's going to lead to, in the best cases, disappointments and in the worst cases, disgruntlement. And that's that drama that's going to flow into a business when you're not protected and you don't have your policies and practices and boundaries clearly stated in your written contracts, then it leads to failed expectations. And those contracts need to be... Written documents and contracts need to be on your website, on your social media, on the emails that you put out, different versions and varying degrees of protections, but of course, with everyone you work with. So in every relationship, for every sale, whether it is a twenty seven dollars sale or twenty seven dollars product that you're selling or a twenty five thousand dollar product, you've got to have a written contract that clearly defines what the other party can expect, what you're going to deliver, what they can expect, and what I like to call the oh shoot part of the contract. And this is what's going to happen if things go off track, if things don't go according to the beautiful plan that you've created. So you've got to have your written protections in place so that everyone is on the same page.
When you protect yourself, it means making sure that you have clearly stated policies, practices and boundaries with your business. - Layne Lyons, Podcast Step Up & Thrive
TP: And it's so common that clients tend to expect so much more than you are ready to give.
LL: Yeah, exactly.
TP: And I don't remember any more, but somewhere I have read that if a client is satisfied he or she may be tells to one friend, but when she doesn't, then everybody will know.
LL: Isn't that so true?
LL: So true because yeah, a happy client is going to tell in passing one or two friends and maybe a colleague or maybe talk about it once in a social media post of, wow, I worked with this other entrepreneur and it really worked out well. But when somebody is upset or bummed out and they and it's not you know, not everybody, of course, but when some people feel that they really need to be vocal about that and that's the danger. That's what I mean about the drama. When we're working with people we've never met, because if you've met somebody, you know, in the old days when we would meet our clients face to face and we knew who they were, think there's this energy exchange, we can both feel each other. We both know that we have the best of intentions. But nowadays there's like this, I don't know, kind of like anonymity about the web and about social media. And I see people off sometimes just really get out there and bash someone. And I think if we had that face to face connection, that wouldn't have happened as much. So we've just got to be it's got to be something to be afraid of. It's just something to be vigilant about and be careful and make sure that your business is buttoned up so that you don't disappoint people, so that you don't put yourself in a position where you're vulnerable to somebody's disappointment and potentially they're really their wrath.
TP: You mentioned those different possibilities. What may happen if we haven't protected ourselves? What are actually the most dangerous legal leaks entrepreneurs can have?
LL: Well, definitely, definitely the biggest the biggest legal leak, the biggest mistake an entrepreneur can have is not having written contracts because things can just go sideways around money, swiped content, drama filled relationships. You know, I always say the only thing worse than a disaster is a disaster with no disaster plan. And it's so true. Right? It's like there's the when something goes wrong in our businesses, all that what's guaranteed. The first thing that happens when you realize you've got a problem, first thing that happens, your palms get sweaty because you realize you're going to have to get into the nitty gritty and deal with this. But when you have written documents, you can allow your contracts to do the heavy lifting for you. You can lean on your contracts. You can stay out of the drama without ever having to be the bad guy. You can just lean on your contracts and say it's the policy of my business that and you fill in the blanks, like, for example. A client comes to you after you have been working together. Let's say she's in a payment plan and after you two have been working together for two months, she comes. She's still got four. Let's say it was a six payment payment plan and she still got four payments to go. You've worked together for two months and she shows up one day. She emails you one day and she says, I'm not going to be working with you anymore. You know, I found this other solution, and I think that's going to help me better and I'm not going to be working with you anymore, so. I'm not going to be making those extra to those those other additional four payments and immediately you get sweaty, you know, you're going to have to wrestle with her. But when you if you don't have a contract, right, if you don't have agreement, that legal leak is going to spring a leak and you're suddenly going to be in a flood of drama. But when you do have a contract, you're able to just very calmly, very, very gracefully go back to your contract. Take a screenshot of the section around refunds and let's just say, for example, your refund policy is just, for example, no refunds after seven days, but it's been two months. You take a screenshot of the section that says no refunds after seven days, you take a screenshot showing that the two of you both signed and dated the agreement and then you attach the agreement to the email. You send it off to her and she gets without doing any work, without getting sweaty, without getting wound up in the anxiety and the drama. You've allowed your contract to do the heavy lifting for you. She gets the email. She says, oh, yeah, I did sign that. I did agree to that. And then you're able to proceed from there. So, you know, your contract isn't just setting up how many sessions or what are the deliverables or what are they going to get or what are you going to deliver and how much does it cost and who owns the content? It's so much more than that because you've got all of these things in your contract that are going to help you if things do go off track so that you've got that disaster plan or if you will, that road map that's going to you're going to be able to go to the contract and the contract is going to tell you exactly what you need to do in the circumstance so that you're not figuring it out on the fly. You've got a hard copy written document that you can rely on to make sure that things stay on track.
TP: This is a really good tip and the contracts are really useful.
TP: Thank you so much Layne. And now it's time for our Quick Tips section, something that we do regularly on our podcast. And my question is, what is your biggest revelation about legal protections?
LL: Oh, yes. How easy it is to just get it done. So many entrepreneurs put it off, I think kind of hoping it's going to go away and I'm going to put my head in the sand. And eventually all this legal stuff is just going to go away. But first of all, it's not going to go away. And in fact, it's only going to become a potentially larger issue if you don't get it handled. But really, the biggest revelation is you can get all of your legal protections installed in your business in an afternoon. So when I think about how easy it is to get it done and I have a very, very special system that I teach my clients about exactly how to get there, legal in place quickly, actionable, check off a couple steps. You know. I know. I know. It's counterintuitive, right? Because I know that legal stuff can be intimidating and overwhelming for a lot of folks. They just hear legal and or we're going to talk about the law and their eyes just glaze over, like as if we're talking about math or something. But it doesn't have to be I because I know it's intimidating and overwhelming. I know it doesn't have to be so, I've created a lot of systems in my business, I think we're going to share with your listeners about a checklist and easy to use checklist so that you know exactly what documents, exactly which we've been talking a lot today about contracts. And I want to make sure everybody knows exactly which contract they need to use. Every online entrepreneur needs these six contracts that are in this checklist that we're going to talk about. It's just LayneLyons.com/checklist. And this is going to help, you know, exactly what is that very first step so that it's not intimidating and it's not overwhelming. What is the very first step and how do I take that very first step so that things become simple? Easy to understand. I'm a big believer in straight up plain English, so we've got to make it easy for people so that they feel empowered to take action. And I love to do that. And so, yep, that make it easy. It's a revelation. Legal can be easy. I promise you all.
TP: I'm so happy to hear that you already mentioned the checklist. And I really recommend everybody would come to show notes and you'll find the link there as well. And you have another offer. A little bit more specific.
TP: Yeah, definitely. Definitely. So if this is if you've been listening to this podcast, this awesome Step Up and Thrive podcast and you've been saying I might need to get my legal ducklings in a row, quack, quack, I might need to get my legal docs in a row, I invite you to download the checklist. It's easy to use. Simple, just as we were just explaining, it's going to help you get started. But if you've been listening to this episode and you have that tingling feeling in your toes that tells you, oh gosh, I needed to handle this like yesterday, then I invite you to book a call with me. It's super easy. You can just go to BookWithLayne.com. We'll have it in the show notes for you and yes, on the call, I'll take a deep dive with you into your specific business. I'll help you identify your exact exposures or places where you are vulnerable in your business. And then I'll help you craft the exact club free tailored to your business to help you plug up your legal leaks. And I want to offer that to anybody who's listening on the call free with me BookWithLayne.com.
TP: There was one small but. It's concerning US and Canada, as I remember.
LL: Yeah, absolutely. So I am a US attorney, although I want to remind everyone, just real quick caveat, listening to this episode today, this is not legal advice. It's legal information for you to use as you grow your business in the area of business growth. And of course, we don't have an attorney client relationship from listening to this episode. But I want to remind everyone that I am US based and Canadian based. And so any listeners, I invite everyone to download the checklist because everyone listening can benefit from this. It is everything that in my business is GDPR compliant. So it will, of course, serve any of the audience listening from the EU and globally in the other continents as well. However, for the call that's extended to the US listeners and Canadian based listeners, because those are the laws that I'm an expert in, which is just one more tip. I'm sure we talk about this all the time at the Step Up and Thrive podcast, but be an expert in your area. Don't try to be all things to all people, because if I tried to know the laws in every single country, in every single corner of this world, then I would be an expert in the things I'm an expert in. So there's a little free advice, free to take it, free to leave it, be an expert and stay in your expertise area.
TP: Thank you so much, Layne, and thank you for joining us and sharing all those tips. You mentioned this checklist. You mentioned free call. Are there any other places our listeners could come and follow you or get more information about you?
LL: Absolutely. I am on all the platforms with the same handle -- Layne Lyons, JD. So just the initial J as in Juliette and D as in Delta, that's the designation that we get here as lawyers here in the US. So I'm at Layne Lyons, JD on Instagram, on Facebook, on Clubhouse, Twitter, LinkedIn. You can find me anywhere under that same handle and I really look forward to connecting with all of you. I hope what you got from this episode is that I am not your typical lawyer and I really come at things trying to make it easy. And actionable, so I look forward to connecting with with all of you, and I'm so grateful to have been on the show. Thank you, Tuuli.
TP: Thank you.
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