Small businesses and entrepreneurs often end up on the short end of the stick when it comes to finding legal services. However, our guest in this episode aims to change all that. Mitch Russo discusses the law and how to protect yourself with attorney, legal coach, and success strategist, Heather Pearce Campbell. Heather shares why she decided to bring legal assistance to entrepreneurs and discusses several tips that are critical for every small business owner. Learn more about legal services for entrepreneurs by tuning in.
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The Legal Side Of Tribe Building: Providing Legal Services For Small Businesses With Heather Pearce Campbell
If you’re a coach, you may want to check out my latest SaaS product called ClientFol.io. It is a platform for coaches who want to radically boost their productivity, save time, have more fun in sessions and get better results too. The best part is it’s just $20 a month. Go to the website and check it out. This is a completely different type of episode. We normally talk to powerful tribe leaders who polarize with passion, purpose and mission. I love this topic, which is why I created the show but somebody’s got to protect both tribes and tribe leaders from getting into legal trouble.
I have invited my friend, Heather Pearce Campbell, a warrior mama, a nature lover, dedicated attorney and legal coach for world-changing entrepreneurs. She’s based in Seattle but don’t hold that against her. She is a mom to two little wild munchkins and the Founder of Pearce Law, PLLC, home of her legal practice. She is also the creator of the Legal Website Warrior, an online business that provides brand protection, legal education and support to information entrepreneurs. She does this for people all around the world.
She has happened to be a hoarder of information, papers and books while secretly dreaming of becoming a minimalist. She relishes an occasional rare night with her hubby, the date night, when the kids are miraculously asleep and she can soak up HGTV without guilt. She is also the host of Guts, Grit & Great Business Podcast, which I hope you’ll listen to. Welcome, Heather, to the show.
Thank you, Mitch. It’s so great to be here.
It’s so great to have you. This is not our typical episode but it’s an important one. The reason I think we have a real chance to add value to our readers here at the show is that we’re passionate about our missions but sometimes that passion leaves us a little bit exposed to potential problems down the road. What I want to do, Heather, is I want you to tell us a bit of how you got started. Why you’re doing what you’re doing? Give us a little feedback there.
I’m practicing law here in Seattle, Washington. This is where I started my practice. It’s where I went to law school. I’ve never left. I was the only one in my class that launched my own practice right out of law school. My journey has been shaped by a couple of things. One, I was raised by an entrepreneur myself. My dad was an entrepreneur, still is an entrepreneur.
In the first quarter of law school, my mom was diagnosed with glioblastoma and she ended up passing away the very start of my second year. That created a dramatic shift for me and how I viewed not only what I was doing but my willingness to commit time to other people, including in pursuit of my own career. I became very unwilling to do work or do anything that I did not want to do that my heart was not in.
At the end of my third year of law school, I took an issue in solo practice class. I looked around and I thought, “Why not instead of going and working for some big law firm?” I had interviewed at big law firms so I had considered that path as a way to get the experience that I thought I needed but it was so incongruent with what I wanted to do.
I didn’t want to sit in a cubby, be told what to do, who I was going to work for and pump out contracts for windmill farms. I wasn’t willing to do it so I launched my own practice. I’ve always considered myself a fairly creative person within the law. I got to work with some amazing law firms as a support person on some of the biggest projects that they had alongside building my own practice. It was a perfect combination for me.
I always considered myself a little bit of an outsider. I didn’t have any attorneys in my family. I didn’t know anything about law. I had zero connections to Seattle. I built everything in my career from the ground up. I realized in a hurry that who I love to support were business people and particularly small businesses. I could also see that they were not well served by our traditional legal marketplace.Small businesses are not well-served by our traditional legal marketplace. You can call it an access to justice gap. Click To Tweet
You can call it the access to justice gap. Small businesses in the US are tremendously underserved. About ten years into my career, I started looking at alternative ways to serve people and serve a very particular niche of clients in the small business space, which I serve virtually exclusively what I call information entrepreneurs. These are coaches, consultants, online educators, speakers, authors, people in the online world of business who are transforming the world through their information and services based around their information.
First of all, you and I have a lot in common, which we both know since we’ve talked so many times but the one thing that I find interesting about your story is that when I was growing up, my mom would get called up to school and the teacher would say to my mom, “He only wants to study what he likes. He’s getting all As in Science and Math, Cs and Ds in History and English. He only wants to do what he wants to do. If he doesn’t want to do something, he puts up a stink and we can’t have him in the classroom.” My mother said, “What’s wrong with that?” I looked at my mom. She said, “I’m not going to crush his spirit because you want to push your way of him doing something. He’s going to do it the way he wants. That’s his life. That’s how he’s going to live his life. Either you get used to it or I’ll move him to another school.” She’s still right here in Boca Raton. I go visit her every week. She’s why I am the way I am. It sounds like you probably had a lot of that encouragement yourself growing up.
I get that some people end up in some ways being forced into entrepreneurship or something happens in their life and they don’t feel like it’s a choice. I do think there are certain people who just have it in them. It was either modeled for them or it’s a part of their personality. I was a pretty serious kid. When my dad sat me down at five years old and said, “If you want to go to college, you got to earn your way. You got to figure out how to get there.” I was like, “On it.” Saving money, asking for odd jobs, doing all the things.
I had a very entrepreneurial childhood where I was getting paper routes, buying and selling cars by the time I was 9 or 10 and doing things that most other kids weren’t doing because I was so focused on the responsibility of making my way to college and making sure that that happened. It did start young and I did have support through my dad and mom and being able to learn some of those little entrepreneurial things pretty young.
My dad opened up candy stores all over New York City and taught me the greatest marketing lessons of anyone I’ve ever learned from. How he used to roast nuts and vent the roaster out the front window of the store at 8:00 AM. By 8:45, we had a line of people in an area of New York that was mostly commercial. Those are the things that come naturally to people. I have a feeling that a lot of people reading probably come from similar backgrounds but in particular, they are entrepreneurs on a mission. One of our jobs, Heather, if you choose to accept your mission, is to help those reading with what can go wrong and how to prevent it when it comes to creating a tribe from a legal perspective. Where shall we start?
It’s a big world. I’ve been doing this work for years but I’ve always said, “The online world of business is the wild west of business.” The reality is that somebody can throw up a website overnight in a relatively short time and suddenly “be in business” but have no idea about marketing regulations, CAN-SPAM Act or privacy issues.
If you’re somebody who’s building a business and you’ve got a list that’s available to people around the world, which many of my clients do. You’ve got international regulations and other things that you’ve got to think about that a lot of people don’t and tell they’re in that hard spot. You’ve got some of the typical things to think about. How do you protect your IP? Do you have a business structure set up that’s appropriate for your business model?
Through your enrollment process, are you putting terms in place that help members of your tribe understand what the rules of the game are? What does it take to play in this space together? There are lots of the same issues that separately building businesses in the online space have to think about. You have to think about them in light of this added element of building a tribe and a community. That community element brings some additional things in the door like, “Where are they interacting? How does that translate into an additional liability for your business?” I tell people it’s about creating clarity.
You know this, Mitch because you’re excellent at business and you’ve been doing this for years. We’ve had conversations before that every touch point that somebody has with your business is an opportunity to set appropriate client expectations. Set expectations that match what you’re going to deliver. There are lots of ways that we can minimize problems in our business but if you don’t know how to think about it the right way, you can have something that started off as a relatively small scenario become a big problem in a hurry for you especially when it involves money, IP or client relationships. We could start it at any one of those points but my goal is to help people understand the roadmap so that they go into it with eyes wide open. They can be strategic and say, “Based on where I’m at, I can make the right decision for my business.”
There was a long list of things that you had talked about there. Let’s get more concrete. One of the things you said that resonated with me is when I want to start a community and that’s part of the power tribe system that I build, we start what we call the code of ethics. The reason we call it the code of ethics is because it is the instruction handbook of how you should act. More importantly, by telling people how they should act and making sure that we all understand how we should act.
When someone doesn’t act that way, two very important things happen. A, the community brings them back in line so we call that a self-healing community. The second thing that happens is that management is alerted to the fact that someone has violated the code and has a specific set of actions to take when that happens. You mentioned something similar to this. You didn’t use my words but you were saying around the same thing. What does that translate to in a legal structure or setting up the first thing someone needs to do when they build a community from a legal perspective?
There’s a framework that I walk people through about legally protecting your business, successful legal protection. The first bucket is having a business entity. Even before you’re building community, the thing that I’d want to know is do you have a proper business structure set up? This is worth mentioning because in the US, 60% of small business owners, anybody making less than $3 million per year, remain sole proprietors.
They don’t even set up a formal business entity. You’re shaking your head because you know the importance of that. I always start there because people need that reminder. If you’re reading and you’re in the bucket of this online space, the coaching consulting education information space, you’re building a tribe, please go back a step if you need to and set up a business entity. That is the only way to separate out your business liability including what you’re doing over here in the tribe from your personal life and your personal assets.
Two reasons why that’s important. One, if you follow Heather’s advice here then the things you spend money on for your tribe becomes deductions from your income and taxes. That’s the first thing what Heather said does. The second thing is that the profits you make can be passed back to you so that there’s only one tax return instead of two.
If you set up an LLC, a subchapter LLC for example, you have a good basis for operating a small business. Heather, I’m not an attorney so if I’m out of line, you tell me. There’s another very important thing. Let’s talk about that too. There’s the element of protecting your intellectual property. Help us understand how the legal entity protects your intellectual property as well.
There’s a couple of points to be made. Once you create an LLC, you are able to take advantage of portions of the tax code that you otherwise don’t have access to if you remain a sole proprietor. It’s hugely advantageous. This is why there’s a phrase that says, “Companies create wealth, individuals get taxed.” It is true. Build a business. If that’s what you’re going to do, start with the first step, make sure that you’re incorporated.Set expectations that actually match what you're going to deliver. Click To Tweet
The other thing that we’ll do as a side benefit that surprises people is it will change your mindset about how you show up in your business. The difference between dipping your toe in the water and being fully committed. I’m new in the paperwork, the licensing, all the things related to my business. It changes the relationship you have to your business, which drastically increases the likelihood of success that you’re going to have.
It makes it real. It’s not a hobby anymore.
What I have found is that a lot of people in this space especially when they’re consulting or coaching minimize what they’re doing. Even though they’re changing the world, they minimize the legal ramifications of what they’re doing like, “Little old me running my business from my basement or home office.” No. You have to deal with the same issues that other businesses deal with. You have to have a strategy that’s right for you.
The other thing you raised is intellectual property. Once you have an entity created, it changes the way that you would approach the intellectual property. Let’s say that you’ve created something like Power Tribes or a signature offering, program, name, group and you want to get trademark protection for that. You need to have a business entity set up that is the registered owner of that mark. If you’re going to allege business damage to your business, you have to have a business set up. You can’t claim damages as an individual if you have created an intellectual property asset that belongs to your business.
That’s where having things done in the right order and the right step makes a big difference for people. A woman reached out to me and wants to get a trademark registration for her work. She’s in the bucket with so many others where she’s still a sole proprietor. I said, “We need to talk first about incorporating or setting up an LLC and then pursuing that registration.” That’s an important point.
IP generally, for folks in this space, the same folks that you’re working with, the same folks that I work with, when you say intellectual property, for most people, I don’t know what comes to mind for you. A lot of people from a legal standpoint are like, “Trademarks, copyrights.” Think of your brand or business as a mountain, including if this is a business that’s serving a tribe.
The top of that mountain, the snow-capped peaks, that’s what’s protectable with a trademark. This is going to be your business name, your tagline, a logo. This is what’s visible to the marketplace. It’s usually around brand identity. You protect that stuff with trademark registration. The rest of the mountain is the body of your work. You’re probably making amazing video content, writing articles. You’re doing all of this online education because you’re an expert and you’re building a tribe.
The rest of your work, all of this amazing content you create, maybe frameworks or systems, that’s protectable with copyrights. That’s the quick analogy for trademark versus copyrights because people sometimes don’t know how to distinguish those things. Trademarks are on top of the mountain. Copyrights are the rest of the mountain. It’s the bulk of your work that you create in this space. A huge percentage of your business value is going to be in your IP.
Let’s cover a very important but simple misconception. Here’s something I always thought to be true. All I got to do is put a C and a circle around the C next to Mitch Russo, all rights reserved 2022. I’m then bulletproof. This is what I was told and for many years, that’s all I did. A lot of people might have that misconception. Tell us first, why it’s a misconception? Secondarily, what should we also do besides that?Setting up a business entity is the only way to separate your business liability from your personal life and your personal assets. Click To Tweet
What Mitch is talking about is your copyright notice. Putting a copyright notice on your work. In the online space, this is important. First of all, let me backtrack and say that it’s not required by law. Copyright in the US rests with the individual once a work takes tangible form. You’re this amazing photographer. Every time you create a photograph, a digital image, you own the copyright to that work.
Understand that copyright doesn’t protect the idea. It protects your unique expression of the idea. For people that are writing articles, setting up frameworks or systems, doing workshops, it doesn’t protect the idea itself. It protects the unique expression of that idea so it’s an important distinction to be made. The point of the copyright notice is to put people on alert that that’s proprietary.
There are a couple of things in regards to using the notice that people will get wrong. One is if you look for that notice on websites, you’ll see that so often websites will just change the year so you see copyright 2021, even though that website has been there since 2015. Copyright originates when the work was created. You don’t want to keep updating that copyright because that’s a little bit like putting your stake in the ground. “I created this in 2015.” Truthfully, a website is an evolving work. Your copyright notice should say, C in a circle, Mitch Russo 2015-2021. It should span the gap of time that that particular work has evolved.
The other thing that people often get wrong is thinking copyright notice in that way is enough. No. It’s to be able to pursue damages. Let’s say somebody infringes that particular work. To be able to initiate a lawsuit, claim damages or get damages, you have to have a federal registration for that work. That’s a process where you get put on file with the federal government that you created that work.
What that does is it allows you to pursue statutory damages in the event of infringement and recover attorney’s fees. This part is important because that can be cost-prohibitive for people. That can completely prevent them from being able to pursue an infringer. They have to pay their attorney fees out of pocket.
Let’s try to step this up a little at a time and summarize where we’ve come from so far. We need an entity. How much would you say it costs to create that entity? Just average.
It depends on where you’re at and what level of support you need. I coach people through that process and I’ve got an LLC formation guide on my website. Some people are totally scrappy and they’re willing to do it themselves. LLCs, as far as the formation process, are pretty straightforward. You do have to have an LLC operating agreement, put in place as part of that process. You can get guidance from a local attorney on that. There are also templates.
It’s important if you have more than one person. If it’s larger than you starting a business, you need to get one-on-one legal support because that’s a little bit like a partnership or even more, if there’s 3 or 4 of you. You’re going to have some more complex issues to deal with than somebody who’s just setting up a sole member LLC. The range of costs generally is going to be between, let’s say, $500 or $1,000 up to several thousand dollars depending on what level of support you need, the complexity of it and the filing fees that relate to that particular state.
I know that some people are very much just starting out where that’s a lot of money but in relative terms, that is a very simple but important step to take that costs, what I would call a relatively small amount in the big picture as to what you’re creating.
Let’s be clear that if you’re pretty scrappy and you’re willing to do a little research online, you can file the document yourself to create the LLC and pay the filing fee. In some states like Wyoming, it might be $50. It’s low. In some states it’s going to be $200.
It’s very expensive in Florida. It was $145. I had to give up a couple of McDonald’s burgers for that one. Step one is let’s get a legal entity in place. A couple of grand or less is great. Step two is to take a look at what transformation you’ve been selling. For the most part, what does it take to register the trademark with the federal government? How much does that cost?
I offer a trademark registration single class, single mark. You can get a word mark or a design mark. If somebody was going after a logo, that’s a design mark. It’s for $1,497.
For $1,500, you’re starting to picket-fence your assets and your company. So far, we’ve only spent about $2,500, maybe $3,000, which in the big picture of what you’re creating, I would call what’s part of the setup. Step three is it’s time to set up what I would think of as the rule structure for your tribe. Give us an idea in legal terms, A, what is that document? B, what it takes to create it?
This bucket in my framework is the second one. It’s your contracts bucket. All the rules between people live inside of contracts. This is how we manage a business, business relationships and groups. There’s a lot that can live inside of the contracts bucket but you’re talking about everything from somebody visiting your website and engaging with your content there.
Maybe that’s how they enroll in your tribe, depending on how you have it set up. You’re going to have terms in place that handle that enrollment just like if you’re doing offline work. Say you’re running a workshop or you’ve got a client coaching relationship in place. You’re going to have a standard client services agreement in place to cover that. You’re going to say, “Here’s what I’m delivering. Here’s what you’re paying for. Here’s what you can and can’t do with the information inside of my services.”
This is also what people don’t realize about contracts. It’s the gatekeeper to RIP. You can put terms in place that protect your intellectual property inside of these documents, which is critical to people running online businesses and exposing their IP in a lot of places. It’s contracts. Contracts are what we’re talking about here.
There are two parts to a contract. The first part is the business arrangement between you and the person that you’re contracting with. The second part is the stuff that the lawyer does to make sure that your business arrangements are proper and legal. We’re going down the scrappy entrepreneur’s checklist of what it costs to get stuff done. Let’s say I want to get a contract done so that before I enroll anybody in my tribe, we have some terms and conditions in place so they know who we are, what we’re doing, how they should act, what they’re entitled to and what they’re not for what they pay. How much does it cost to create that contract roughly?
Let’s backtrack and say that you are charging people to join this tribe. It’s part of a larger service or community and it’s a paid offering. If it’s an online enrollment, you’re going to have that inside of a document called terms of purchase. If you have some other way of enrolling people, let’s say you’re a little old-fashioned, you do all your sales calls and enrollment over the phone, there are people who do this, this is going to be a document that looks much more like a client services agreement or a standard document that they would sign, unless you have it somehow managed in an online portal or online space.
Does the question become how complex are your services? There’s no one contract that looks alike depending on what somebody is doing inside of their business. Let’s be clear that a small business attorney is not for everyone. A small business attorney who serves a brick and mortar plumbing shop in Virginia is going to be very different than the type of practice that I have serving information entrepreneurs in the online space. Generally, it’s between $500 and $1,500, depending on what you’re doing.Copyrights don't protect the idea itself; it protects the unique expression of that idea. Click To Tweet
That’s the long answer but it depends on who are you working with from a legal perspective? Do they understand your business? Are there ways that you can get automated support that is still very tailored to your business without having to pay somebody for their one-on-one time to create that? Those are what I coach people through.
There’s one question I had for you because I’m going to play devil’s advocate. I’m going to say, “Why don’t I go to LegalZoom? For $100, I can get everything that I want. Tell me what the advantage of not going to LegalZoom or going to LegalZoom for that matter. Why would I want to go to LegalZoom?
People go to LegalZoom for the budget. That’s going to be the first primary driver. The second thing is speed. They probably needed this document yesterday. The real sticking point in the traditional legal industry is the time it takes to connect with an attorney, vet them, make sure that they’re a real fit for your business and then wait for them to create the document and collect all the information. LegalZoom is going to be budget and speed.
The question that I ask people and I’ve dealt with lots of folks who have started with LegalZoom is, “How do you feel once you’re done?” It’s always this empty space. They sit there for a minute like, “I think I feel fine. I think I took care of mine.” I’m like, “Do you really know?” The problem with LegalZoom is it doesn’t deliver confidence and any transformation in the way that they lead their business or have business policies or business practices that support them from a legal perspective. That’s what’s missing. It doesn’t come with any education or transformation. It delivers zero confidence.
The other thing about LegalZoom or any big box providers is they are tailored to the world at large. They’re not tailored to any particular kind of business or a very specific niche that deals with intellectual property, business practices or online business habits that look a certain way. The reality, unfortunately for any legal document, is it is only as good as it is clear and as it matches the scenario for which you need it. That’s it. That’s what makes a contract good or not. Is it clear? Does it match your specific scenario?
The one thing that stands out in all of what you described to me is, “How do you feel when you were done?” I’ve used LegalZoom particularly for speed and budget. All I could say is that I hope that this parachute opens when I find myself on a plane that’s going down. The real issue is yes, I have a parachute. It might open, might partially open or might not. That is how I think of what LegalZoom is.
If you don’t have the budget, I would advise somebody at least to do LegalZoom and then later go to Heather or somebody in your area that you trust. Let them take a look at that and upgrade that to better customize it for you and your business. The thing is that you only specialize in one thing, which happens to be all the people that I know.
I don’t know bakers, people who own bookshops and dentists’ offices. I only know the people in our industry, which is internet marketing. I hate to use that term. Speaking, coaching, consulting and training is the way I see it. I would want to gravitate to someone like, “I don’t think you would hire me to build your medical practice. First of all, I don’t even like doctors. I’d rather not. Second of all, you hire me because you know that I can build a coaching business and that’s what I do. It’s where my thing is about.” From a sensibility standpoint, it is best to work with someone you could get support from. The other thing is that if you have a question with LegalZoom, who do you ask? I guess there’s maybe a help desk with some students manning the help desk or something. I don’t know.
This is the challenge with those big box legal providers. I’ve had people with all the things in the shopping cart, take a screenshot of it, send it to me and say, “I’m about to try to set up my LLC through LegalZoom. Does this look right?” I’m like, “Do you have ten minutes? Let’s jump on a call real quick and I’ll walk you through what they put in your inbox.”
The problem with LegalZoom is they take advantage of people not knowing. They recommend 89 additional things that end up in your basket. You’re $1,000 or $1,500 in on LegalZoom. They get their money. You could have paid that to a small business attorney who is scrappy, understands your business model and had your money go just as far. That’s the struggle.
I have a huge heart for entrepreneurs. I am an educator first. I’m a coach myself. My personality is I want people to have the transformation. That’s missing in our traditional legal world. If you’ve looked at our legal marketplace, you’ve got hiring an attorney for one-on-one support over here on the left. Think of it like a big whiteboard. Clear over on the other side of the whiteboard, you have things like LegalZoom but there’s huge space in the middle. How does somebody get the support that they need if they’re a small business? That is why I created the Legal Website Warriors.
I was like, “I can serve the heck out of people in the middle of this space where they get an education. They get some robust tools but they don’t have to hire me one-on-one for every single thing because I also believe in automation, systematizing and being as efficient as possible.” The other answer to that question of how does somebody gets support is to show up and ask a small business attorney the questions you need to ask and see whether or not they feel a fit, even on being able to educate you about your options in the marketplace.
There are plenty of times where I’ll walk people through their options and say, “Here are the pros, the cons and your other options. What feels like a fit for you?” I’m not interested in selling people on something that doesn’t feel congruent but there are lots of attorneys that maybe wouldn’t take the time to do that.
One of the things most people don’t realize is that attorneys are here to build long-term relationships. When I moved to Florida, I’m in a completely different state from Taxachusetts where the Kremlin on the Charles used to sit called Harvard University. I didn’t know what it was like to live in a state like Florida. I didn’t know the laws. I don’t know the business customs and such like.
I asked for a referral and I got a referral to an attorney here. I ended up in a two-hour phone call with this brilliant asset protection attorney completely free. He didn’t even charge me a nickel. He was so interested in what I was doing because he was an interesting person. Later, I ended up hiring him and having him do everything for me but if it wasn’t for that first meeting, I never would have even known what he did.
Let’s go back to the topic at hand here. Here’s what we got. We got protection because we have an entity. We have some copyrights, registered our copyrights and maybe even trademarks. We have gotten some contracts in place and maybe even some additional documents for our website to protect us. What else does a tribe builder need to make sure that they have their body of protection?
This is about where your forum is. Bringing all these people together, you got to look at where they are showing up to interact. Is this online in a membership group? Is it part of your website? Is it on Facebook? Many people are building tribes and using Facebook because it’s free as a way to bring those folks together.
The other thing is posting proper notice. You can call it house rules or group terms. Hopefully, at the enrollment process, they’ve already signed off on the official terms but this is all about the touchpoints with your business where you have an opportunity to create clarity. Looking at where my forum is and how can I create clarity on where people are?There's no one contract that looks alike depending on what somebody is doing inside of their business. Click To Tweet
In this forum, you want to look for an opportunity to post those house rules that have the key components of how are we going to behave here? What are the rules? What language can we use? Is this a place where we swear a lot? Is it not? I’ve been in both groups. Is it a place where you can post your own business stories? Is it not? Is this totally a no-selling zone? It’s all of these things that come up. People accidentally end up learning these lessons later because they have to put out little fires in their community. Somebody’s going to be offended by that and somebody else won’t.
I got to tell you a very interesting story. I’m interviewing someone on the show. They said that their community is for women and those who identify as such. I’m a little older than the average bear so I’m new to some of these things. I then had to ask a question. “Does that mean that men are allowed in your group?”
This person paused for a second then she said, “If they want to be, they can.” Then I was thinking, “What happens if that person doesn’t identify as a woman? Can a man simply say, ‘It’s 5:45. I’m going to identify as a woman for the next twenty minutes, is that okay?’” I didn’t go into this but all these were going through my mind. “Wouldn’t it be great if we had a document that cleared all this up in advance?”
The issue about clarity is you want it to be supportive of the community that you’re building. You want to make it easy to understand, easy to follow, clear and conspicuous. This means not hidden, not minimized in tiny, small print somewhere. You want to be out and about with how this group operates. This issue that you’ve raised is important. There are gender discrimination lawsuits that happen against women-led, women-owned businesses that largely serve women. This is where on an issue like that.
If you fall into certain buckets where you think, “This could be problematic,” as an attorney that cares a lot about your business, I’m going to tell you, go get specific legal support with that issue so that you’re not stepping into a big pothole. You don’t want to ignore stuff like that. What happens is people think like, “I’ll deal with it later.” All it takes is a gentleman showing up and saying, “I’d like to participate.” Somebody could be handling that wrong and could be on the receiving end of a legitimate lawsuit.
Heather, we covered the basics of getting set up properly. If you spent the time reading this whole interview, you will understand what you need. If you do not have at least the bare minimum as we had discussed, Heather would also advise you to get that before you start taking money and building your group because it’s going to be important later when you least expect it. This has been a terrific time.
If I can for a moment, I also want to toot your horn. I know so many people who’ve used you have raved about how incredible it’s been to work with you but I’ll go one step further. If you go to her website, LegalWebsitewarrior.com, there is this little button called Services & Templates that you can click on. You can get a ton of great stuff for free. On top of that, Heather has some other advice there that would be important for you to see as well. Heather, anything else you want to say before we wrap this up?
It’s such a pleasure to connect with you. I’m such a fan of your work. This idea of building community and tribe is essential. It’s what we need to be doing. I want to encourage people not to feel overwhelmed by stuff like this. You learn marketing, sales and information technology as it relates to your business.
What I love about entrepreneurs is they have a heap of guts and are willing to put in some elbow grease. It’s what makes them brilliant and able to do so much within their business. Legal is no different than other stuff. There is a clear map and we’ve covered much of it here. The only other two things that I would refer to put on your list and look at it at some point is business insurance. Make sure you’ve got insurance support.
My one tip on that is connect with an insurance broker who has access to the marketplace that isn’t tied to a specific insurance provider. The final bucket is what I call dispute resolution strategy. Having led communities, things are going to happen, even serving clients. Whatever you’re doing, things are going to happen. Your dispute resolution strategy is a communication strategy. It’s so important.
Having an advanced understanding of the fact that business is one huge long game of telephone. Things can go wrong in a hurry to the extent that you have contracts, clarity and a successful communication strategy in place. It is money in your pocket. It’s time and energy back in your life. The one tip I have to get people started thinking about dispute resolution or communication strategy as its own bucket is the book Difficult Conversations. Go get it.
It’s my final plug. It’s an excellent read. It’s one of those that I say is easy to read and challenging to implement but it will serve you in your personal and business life. It will do wonders to change your thinking around disputes and how you convert something that would normally have you running and avoiding being problematic because as humans, we get defensive to reconsidering how you turn that into a client success and a win for everybody.
We had a whole department to TimeSlips corporation. What would happen is we would escalate client service problems to one person. His name was Alan Singer. He had one job and that was to take that disgruntled individual and at the end of the conversation, turn them into an ambassador for the company. Alan Singer was amazing at this so we get this horribly, mean, angry person. Within twenty minutes, this person was singing the praises of the company and sharing the story of how the company took care of them.
By the way, I have a secret. I’ll only tell you Heather so don’t tell anybody else. I was Alan Singer. Even when the company reached over 100 people, I still took those elevated customer service calls because first of all, I love doing it. Second of all, I knew what the outcome was going to be. I always wanted to be the one that answers. It’s a lot of fun.
It’s an empowering thing to be able to change the nature of a conversation like that so it does become a win for your business. Unfortunately, most people make a misstep in that process because they’re driven by fear or wanting to avoid it. We’re not comfortable with conflict most of us. It’s not how we’re wired. It makes us ridiculously uncomfortable. Learning about conflict and some strategies goes a long way.
If all else fails, get yourself an asset protection attorney.
That’s the backend strategy for all that personal wealth that you’re building.
You want to shield that from being available in the case of the law. The best lawsuit of all that could be filed is when the opposing counsel says there’s nothing to get. What’s the point of suing him if there’s nothing there?
When you reach certain levels of business that becomes an important strategy. My final thing is I offer a free resource. I’m sensitive to the fact that some people may still be feeling overwhelmed. They may have read this conversation and still be like, “The list is long.” The reality is I want to reiterate, you can do this. I want you to understand the map so that you feel empowered to take the right next step. I have a free resource called Legal Basics Bootcamp.
It will walk you through some of what we talked about in a structured order. It walks you through my five bucket frameworks for business legal success. You can find it at LegalWebsiteWarrior.com/legalbasicsbootcamp. That will drop you into a free training that walks you through what we talked about. We’ll give you time to digest it because we all need time to understand this stuff and begin to implement it.Entrepreneurs are a heap of guts, and they're willing to put in some elbow grease. And it's what makes them brilliant. Click To Tweet
The other thing is that once you’re on my list, I host a monthly call. For people thinking like, “I have questions and I maybe don’t want to pay for a massive consultation with a lawyer.” If they don’t have the good luck that you had of crossing paths with one who gave you an awesome complimentary session upfront. Some people don’t find that.
I host a monthly Ask Me Anything Live. If you’re on my list, you can join that call and ask me any questions at the intersection of law and business. I will try to support you. It can’t be legal advice because it’s in the context of a group but I will give you examples of what I have done and what I might recommend in certain circumstances.
That’s a great resource. It’s not only generous of you but it’s savvy of you, Heather. People will get to know you in that call and probably want to hire you. It makes a lot of sense. If you’re not doing something like this, what an incredible example of a great marketing strategy but yet if you’re doing it only for that, it won’t work.
You need to have the desire to help. You have to have that heart, which Heather has some spades. Get ahold of her, join that free group and ask questions. Go to the LegalWebsiteWarrior.com/legalbasicsbootcamp and check it out. Building a tribe only makes sense so why not be protected if it doesn’t even cost you anything at least to find out?
I want people to have the education upfront. I want to give them the map because in the past that has lived inside of a legal black box. I don’t like it there. I want people to feel empowered just like you do with your coaches building a coaching business. I want them to be making decisions from the standpoint of knowing it’s the right next decision. Not guessing, not throwing a dart at the wall and not taking Uncle Bob’s advice that knows nothing about their business. We see this happen all the time.
Heather, it is always a pleasure chatting with you. Readers, if you’re enjoying this show and you know others who would benefit by knowing this particular show or others, share it. It would be so valuable to us for you to do so. I hope it would enlighten those with who you share it and elevate you in their eyes. Do somebody a great favor, share this incredible information and protect them too. Heather, thanks again. I can’t wait until we get a chance to talk again soon.
Thank you, Mitch. I appreciate you.
- Pearce Law, PLLC
- Legal Website Warrior
- Guts, Grit & Great Business Podcast
- Difficult Conversations
- Legal Basics Bootcamp
- Ask Me Anything Live
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