I’ve been looking forward to doing this podcast interview, because I get SO MANY legal questions from people who would start a business, but are worried about doing things right.
Truth be told, I think a lot of people use the legal aspects of business as an excuse to hold themselves back from actually going for their dreams. They let it be complicated and mysterious, even though it’s not, and because it’s “complicated and mysterious,” it’s “not their fault” they haven’t started yet.
You & I know that’s bullshit. 💩
Equally though, there are people out there who are ready to go, but have a question they can’t quite seem to figure out, and don’t want to pay a $1,000/hour legal fee to get pointed in the right direction.
This podcast is for BOTH types of people: we dispel the myths of the legalities of business, I’m talking with a REAL business lawyer, and I ask all the questions I’ve ever had around legal stuff in business, all the questions I’ve heard from clients, AND all the questions I’ve heard from wanna-be entrepreneurs who like to use the legal stuff as a crutch. 😉
PLUS, I’ve got a checklist below of all. the. things. Jamie & I talked about in this episode, so you can use it as a go-to guide for getting your business off the ground, or for getting your legal ducks in a row if you’ve already started, but want things to be more “official.”
After this podcast episode, you’ll have all the information you need to get going… or know where to look to find it. And if you have any other questions, you can hit up Jamie, today’s interview guest, at @hashtag_legal on Instagram, or via her website link below.
What We Talked About
- Jamie’s background as a lawyer & why she’s so passionate about what she does for solopreneurs and entrepreneurs, instead of practicing the corporate, commercial law she practiced at the start of her career.
- The absolute basics of what you should do from a legal perspective to get started when all you have is an idea & no established business yet.
- Why LLCs are such a good choice for most first-time business owners & other business models to be aware of.
- Sole Proprietorships & Corporations
- S-Corps as a tax status
- Getting a partnership agreement set up by a lawyer to avoid a painful “business divorce.”
- Rules around product sales & packaging requirements.
- Legal rules around websites, online marketing, and email marketing.
- Intellectual property & how to protect it.
- The difference between trademark & copyright.
- Ideas can’t be protected by copyright. It has to exist outside of your mind before you get a copyright on it.
- Common law copyright rights vs. registering a copyright.
- GDPR & what you need to know about email marketing.
- Common law trademark rights.
- What you need to know about contracts – either as someone being hired or someone doing the hiring.
- Her advice to the Business Bitch community:
- Be patient
- Get really comfortable with failing. (And her own experience with this when she was getting started with Hashtag Legal.) I also share my own epic failure experience & the good that came out of it.
Where to find her online.
- A free negotiation worksheet: hashtag-legal.com/negotiation
The Solopreneur’s Legal Checklist
- Form a company: LLC, possibly another type depending on your goods or services
- Make sure the name you want is available & doesn’t infringe on someone else’s trademark
- Maintain your LLC: have business bank accounts, credit cards, sign documents in the name of the LLC, etc.
- Set up a partnership agreement with a lawyer if you have a business partner.
- Staying on top of your annual reports.
- If selling a physical product, make sure you’re compliant with regulations. To find out what those regulations are, ask around for people in that niche who do things similar to you & find out where to get a list of regulations. Find out what your labeling requirements are. Start by Googling it, if nothing else.
- Ask an accountant about sales tax.
- Website to-do’s:
- Terms & Conditions to protect your content & limit your liability. (Disclaimers, etc.)
- Terms & Conditions for purchase & sale of digital products. Intellectual property, refund policies, login information responsibility, etc.
- When you get to the point of being able to afford custom Terms & Conditions, hire a lawyer to help you.
- Use a mainstream email marketing software to be compliant with unsubscribe rules.
- Put an email opt-in on your website & don’t just add people because you feel like it. Wait for them to opt-in.
- When creating a contract, include:
- Timelines & deadlines for both parties
- Payment terms & rules around late fees (& asking for an upfront deposit)
- Project scope (what is & isn’t included in the project)
- Original content protections to avoid copyright infringement. Make sure that you’re indemnified so they pay the fees if you get into legal trouble for what they create.
- Limitations of liability.