During these difficult times, I’ve received SO many messages from clients who are worried about how they can legally postpone their events and retreats, how they deal with clients who are cancelling contracts and what they need in general to legally protect their businesses.
As online entrepreneurs and creatives, it’s so important to support each other in our businesses. As we sit in our homes and practice social distancing, let’s try to remember not to disengage a a creative community. It’s so important to stand true in our missions. Nothing has felt more true for me during this crazy period.
More than ever, now is NOT the time to stop sharing our gifts and offerings. So many people need what we are offering more than ever right now! If you are a health & wellness coach, so many people need to focus on their health right now from home. If you are a business coach, so many people are thinking now more than ever about how to start an online business. If you are a love coach, now is the time that we need to teach others how to call in and share love.
With that being said, now is a great time to get your legal in order for your business. Now is the time we should be focusing on it.
So I want to share with you a few things about what you need to have in your business to be legally protected and if you have contracts, events or retreats that you need to reschedule, what can you do?
Because, I’m sure there are a lot of you out there that are thinking now is a great time to start my online business OR now is the time to grow your online business and I want you to do so confidently and without any risks of incurring fines, penalties or lawsuits.
What you need to make sure you legally compliant.
1. Terms & Conditions protects your content on your site so your visitors must request written permission from you in order to use any of your content. It also has a Dispute Resolution Clause which states that if a dispute arises between yourself and a visitor to your site, that the dispute will be settled through arbitration and in your home city and state.
3. A Website Disclaimer lets your visitors know that all of the information posted on your site is for general and informational purposes only, that you are not a CPA, attorney, doctor, etc and that they assume the risk if the participate in anything you’ve posted on your site about.
Client Agreements: Making sure you have a client agreement that details payment plans, how to get a hold of you, set energetic boundaries for yourself and your business, protects your content and confidentiality is so important!
What you can do if you need to cancel a contract, event or retreat? Or what do you do if someone is trying to cancel their part of a contract (such as speakers in an event)?
Force Majeure (“Acts of God”) Clause: A lot of contracts have a force majeure clause in them. This clause states that when there is an act of god, as listed in the contract, then the contract is null and void or your performance is excused.
If you currently have a contract in place, look at the language and see if there is a force majeure clause in it.
Make sure to read that language very carefully with the attorney who drafted it.
There may be specific language surrounding what is considered an act of god (such as fires, earthquakes, national emergencies, etc.). It’s most likely that a pandemic, such as this one, will not be included because it was not really foreseeable that we would be mandated for a forced quarantine.
If that’s the case, then the courts might find that you intentionally did not want this to be included in the contract and it would be difficult to get out of it.
If you have contracts that do not have this in place, then you might want to consider adding it in.
Impracticability Clause: An impracticability clause is an implied provision which states that if the whole purpose of the contract or your performance under the contract is “impossible” or “impracticable” then you are excused from performing.
Most states have this in place.
First things first, this clause states that there must be a contract in place in order for it to take effect.
What would make a contract impossible or impracticable? Acts of god, if you cannot travel to the event, if the venue is unsafe, if the state says that no more than 10 people can gather at a time.
What are the best practices during this time for legally preparing our businesses?
Offer refunds for events or contracts if you must cancel them.
If you are in a place where you cannot offer a refund, then it would be good practice to offer a ticket to the next event or extend the life of the contract.
Now is NOT the time to “borrow” documents or website documents from other coaches or online entrepreneurs! Doing so could infringe on the intellectual property rights of the attorney who drafted them.
Also, if you have standard templatized website documents from your website host, then now’s the time to make that switch!
You might not be fully covered from other people’s document or documents that are free from your website host.
Lastly, I encourage everyone to be compassionate and to give grace where they can. I know this is trying times and a lot of people are concerned about their income, but when we give grace to our clients and fellow entrepreneurs, we spread some love and compassion around.
I’m here for you as a resource during this time, if you have any questions or should you need any support. I do offer free 20-minute consultations and I’d LOVE to sit down and chat about where you need legal support in your business.
And if you need any legal documents to get your business set up, you can find them on my site here: https://nataliepuglisi.lpages.co/legal-templates/