One of my very favourite parts of creating content for my members only site was interviewing amazing experts for my Get It masterclasses – who doesn’t love a nice chat with an interesting person?
Throughout the series I talked to inspiring women from all different fields, and gathered up as much information as I could to help you out with your next unconventional launch.
First up, I want to feature Suzanne Dibble, the brains behind the Small Business Legal Academy.
Suzanne is a multi award winning business lawyer with vast experience ranging from acting for PLCs on billion pound projects to helping micro businesses with their day to day business law requirements.
Having worked with Richard Branson, Simon Woodroffe and many other famous entrepreneurs and having been a board director of a £100m+ turnover company, Suzanne is particularly commercially minded and entrepreneurial in her outlook.
There seems to be this innate fear and confusion that comes alongside all things “law”… to the extent that we just want to hide behind our computer screens touting garlic and holy water.
However, when you’re selling info products, online programmes and coaching services, adopting this “death by denial” approach really can be the final nail in your coffin.
I asked Suzanne to share her top tips for getting your head around the legals once you’re ready to launch that next big thing:
Arm yourself against liability
With online courses, or any type of online business, actually, the first thing to think about is protecting yourself from liability.
If your info product is out of date, or if somebody misinterprets your advice, they could bring a claim against you. To prevent this you want to but as many “blocks” between you and that claimant as possible.
- Put together a robust set of Terms & Conditions. Outline detailed disclaimers as a way to prevent liability, and make reading and acknowledging these terms a non-negotiable part of any transaction.
- Invest in business insurance. You should always have insurance there as a backstop, just in case somebody does make a claim. Make sure you read all documentation fully so that you’re aware of all coverage, exclusions and the impact on premiums should you claim.
- Trade as a Limited Liability Company. If you’re trading as a Sole Trader, your personal assets will be at risk should someone make a claim against you. As a general rule, you only really need to change your business to an LLC if your business is high-risk, or you’re making over £25k in profits. Speak to your accountant for more information.
Protect your IP
Your IP, or Intellectual Property, is all you have if your business is built on online content, info products and e-courses.
Wording around the safeguarding of your intellectual property should be featured prominently in your Terms & Conditions.
If you don’t have the right phrasing in your Terms, customers could download your digital content then ask for a full refund. Legally, you would have to comply.
Additionally, you want to prevent unlawful sharing of your content by adding a “copyright” statement to all materials, including your website and any downloadable content. This typically involves the copyright symbol, your name, the year and a short disclaimer.
Manage contributor expectations
If other experts contribute to your online programmes, you need to set boundaries from the get go. All problems can be circumvented by signing an agreement.
You want to make sure that the materials provided are exclusive to your programme, and will not be shared elsewhere. You should also state how you intend to use their content, so that your contributors know what to expect.
Prioritise web policies
Certain web policies are legal requirements.
Create concrete affiliate terms
Affiliate marketing is a very popular way to both earn an income and secure more sign ups for your online programme. However, it can get problematic if you don’t have “black and white” Terms in place.
For starters, you need to be very clear on the % an affiliate can earn per sign-up. You should also state when those payments will be made. It’s recommended that you wait until your refund period is over or you could end up losing money.
You can also get in quite a lot of trouble if your affiliates overstate the benefits of your product. You could be fined, or even be sentenced to jail time if an affiliate exaggerates when trying to sell your online programme. Include an appropriate disclaimer in your Terms to limit any liability.
Stay on this side of the pond
America definitely leads the way in terms of launch strategies and marketing techniques – learn from those. But remember that they also have an entirely different legal systems.
Do not take legal advice from a website that does not specialise in your country’s law.
Suzanne’s full masterclass can be found over on my members only site. Be sure to check it out if you want to know more about:
- How to figure out whether your content has already been infringed
- The copyright protection checklist
- The biggest legal mistakes experts make when launching
- The legalities of naming your online products
- Trademarking signature programmes
Getting ready to launch? Get your hands on this…