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How To Create A Legal Plan To Cover Your Business Risks With Autumn Witt Boyd


TRANSCRIPT AUTOMATICALLY GENERATED Diane: [00:00:00] Hey, Hey, today's guest Autumn Witt boyd is a thought leader in the online business community, working with the likes of Amy Porterfield and Shelene Johnson, helping them to avoid costly legal mistakes in their businesses. But if you think legal protection is just for the big names, think again, every entrepreneur needs their business built on a solid legal foundation. Today, we're gonna dive into how to figure out what your legal foundation needs to look like, because not everyone's the same. Hey autumn. Welcome to the show. Autumn: Hi, I'm so glad to be here. Thank. Diane: So let's do a quick little intro to you and your business. Autumn: Okay. So I'm a lawyer. I am a copyright and trademark lawyer by background. And in 2015, I got tired of working for other people and not seeing my little kids enough. So started my own firm. So as we're recording now, it's about seven years in. And we have grown from being just kind of a one woman show to now we're a full service law firm. We only work with online businesses, so it should be all the people who are listening. Coaches, course creators, people who run memberships or agencies are our people. And we do kind of all the things now. So I still specialize in copyrights and trademarks, but we have employment lawyers. We do contract review. We do kind of all the things an online business might need. Diane: So this topic is simultaneously. Terrifying and freeing so terrifying when you mention something and it creates a, a gap that needs to be filled, but then freeing when you know that you have like, your pitu really covered. Right? So before we start talking about legal things, is there a way to frame this conversation just to damp down that kind of fear, anxiety so that people hear the message. Autumn: Yes. So I have actually added now to all of my. Our welcome call my sales calls. I have a big in red letters that says no judgment zone So I will add that caveat to this conversation. Someone told actually Tara McMullen, who you may know used to be tar until he told me years ago, she said legal is really intimidating. And I was like, well, I'm not intimidating. She said, no, you're not intimidating, but just the idea of it can be. [00:02:00] Stress inducing. So I just will share with you and anyone who's listening. There is no judgment coming from this way. So I encourage you to be gentle with yourself. You probably, if your listening did not go to law school, so take it easy on yourself. This stuff is not easy. And so I'm just here to kind of encourage and be a cheerleader and help. Kind of identify some things you may wanna think about. I'll give my disclaimer, this is a good time for that, which is, I am a lawyer I'm licensed to practice in Tennessee, which is in the United States. So if you are located elsewhere, your mileage may vary. Some things are a little different in other places. But you know, I'm not your lawyer if you're just listening to this. So please take this just as information to get your wheels turning. Diane: Awesome. So being in Europe, I lived through the great GDPR palette of 2000 and whatever, Autumn: 18. I re may eight May, 2018. I remember it. Well, Diane: And to be completely honest, I was probably a large cause of the panic of 2018 because I was so freaked out. I wanted everybody else to be as freaked out as I was because living in Europe, it had a much bigger impact. I'm probably one of the only entrepreneurs you would know. Who's actually spoken to the data commission. Right? Autumn: Well done. Diane: Right. Just checking things out. Right. I mean, it was very easy and they're very friendly. I was in Ireland at the time, so it was very, it wasn't what you're imagining phoning the government would, would be like, but even getting all of those ducks in a row. I still have stuff that comes up like a cookie report will spit out a weird cookie that I don't know what I'm tracking or I have some more custom. Based packages on my website. So my privacy policy, my terms of service have to change slightly. I have to think about things contractually, so? I feel like it's just constantly shifting land under my feet. So how do we even begin to think about legal in our businesses as like when I think foundation, I think solid. Autumn: Mm-hmm Diane: Solid is not a word that I feel when I think about my legal sit up. Autumn: Yeah. [00:04:00] Well, so I'll share kind of how I think about it and how we approach it here with our firm. So when you're just starting. The, it feels like you don't know what you're doing and it's kind of a mess, but the good news is your risk is fairly low because you don't, you're not making that much money you probably, unless you, you know, had a really high paying job or you had independent wealth or something, you probably haven't invested that much into your business. So there's not that much to lose. Like if something goes really wrong, You know, you just shut it down and move on. As you progress and where I think most of your listeners are more, in kind of a more stable frame or stage of their business. You do have more risk. You are, like you said, offering more packages, probably working with higher dollar engagements or, you know, clients or selling to more people. So all of those things kind of raise your risk. I start to worry more about legal as that risk RA, you know, gets higher. That could also be true if you're doing different things in your business. So I always give this example, I live in Chatanooga Tennessee, and they're like, you can skydive off a mountain, not far from where we are. which I find terrifying. But so that's a very high risk activity. Like if something goes wrong, you're gonna die or your customer's gonna die. that's very risky. You wanna put a lot of legal around that to protect you and the people and the business and your personal assets and all the things. But for most of what we're doing in online business, like if something goes wrong, maybe you have an unhappy customer or you know, maybe violated something like GDPR or like email marketing rules. And that can be expensive. It can be a problem. But if you're a graphic designer, if you're doing one on one coaching or consulting, like the risk is fairly low, even as your business does grow All that to say, I kind of approach legal proportionately to risk mm-hmm So if you're running a 10 million business, the legal foundation you need is totally different than if you are a solo consultant, even if you're making half a million or more just the good news is you're still pretty low risk, even though that's a substantial business and, you know, a nice income you know, building a team. Increases your risk. Sending out text messages [00:06:00] to hundreds of thousands of people. Like there's lots of laws around that, that we're dealing with that for a client right now that increases your risk. So I would just encourage you to kind of think about what are the things you're doing in your business that might be risky. Like GDPR, for example, is a risk. But if, but a lot of that is in your control. So like you can make sure you're. Spewing email addresses out in public that you shouldn't be, or you're not selling them to other people without telling, you know, people who opt into your list that actually you're gonna get spammed by this other person. So you, you know, the, the more that you can do things the right way and kind of keep that in control, the lower risk you have. Does that give you a, a, like a, any relief? Diane: it does. I just, I just think it's amusing because we go back to what Tara was saying to, but like legal is really intimidating. So you look at GDPR and go like, well, the risk is kind of low. You could do this and this and this, and it'll all be fine kind of thing. Whereas we look at GDPR and we see all the legalese and it's. I'm gonna get sued for millions. They're gonna treat me like Google. And I spoke to a lawyer in the UK and I was like, well, this is what's happening. But like, I have no control over what these big companies are doing. He's like, yeah, just document Autumn: Right, right. Diane: the solution is to document it. I was like, I've been having sleepless Autumn: Yes. The, the legal term for that is CYA Diane Diane: yeah. Autumn: paper. That file. So what we Diane: I was like, I just have to go back into like my old ordered mindset of like, if it's on paper, I've warned everyone. Like it's all fine. Autumn: And with GDPR, I mean, the other thing is like, if you're working with, so some of it is out of your control, like you said, if you're using Google, like you don't control Google, but Google's a big company. Like if you're using some fly by night, you know, brand new app that nobody's ever heard of. Like that again, that's a little more risky Diane: Like red flag. Autumn: flag. Yeah. Diane: And I guess it, you know, the more customers you have that risk increases as [00:08:00] well, because they're in more locations, right? So maybe you have some people in Europe who are GDPR, but the us is getting is starting to like wake up to Autumn: Eh slowly Diane: you've got like, California's got some rules, I think. I, you know, Autumn: Congress is talking about it, but I don't think it's gonna happen any time soon. Diane: Yeah. I mean, you have bigger fish to fry at the moment. So I do think as that expands people will start to have those kind of panics things. Autumn: Yeah. And we see like, with having customers in multiple places that does, like you mentioned, ad complexity. I think people don't always think about with like some countries have really particular rules around refund policies and you know, cancellation and those kinds of things. So it, it definitely like every, every bit of complexity you add to your business kind of adds legal too, which we don't always think. Diane: Yeah. The one I love to share with people is that in the UK, you're not actually allowed to charge more for monthly payments. Autumn: That's true in the us for some things too, but nobody talks about it. Diane: Yeah, so here, because it's literally considered, like Autumn: It's like a bank it's like you're a bank, right? Diane: a hundred percent, you have to be registered as a credit institution because you're saying I'm charging you for the Autumn: Mm-hmm yeah. It's like an it's like interest. Yeah. Diane: A a hundred percent. So we're allowed like a small amount. And again, you have to like document what it was for, for like the processing and stuff. But the people who are like let's add 30% and see what happens and, and everyone in the UK is. Do you understand why we don't wanna pay this? Right. Like you are not my bank so I, I think, yeah, as you said, like it's the complexities all over the place. So now we've got a slightly more okay. Risk based approach. So currently my risk is X as I have all of my plans for my business. Should I also be having a legal plan as that risk increases? Autumn: Yes. Diane: mean, I can, I can guess what the answer's gonna be, but. Autumn: Yeah, so. We, like I mentioned before, we're a full service law firm. So there's lots of lawyers in this space and there's [00:10:00] nothing wrong with the approach they take, who just do one thing. Like they maybe just do trademarks. So they just do contracts. And what I have seen is a big picture strategy is just, I mean, it's like anything else in your business, it's like trying to do marketing and you're only gonna do one little piece of it. Like it just doesn't really work. So yes, having a big picture plan. As your business grows again, you might not need it from day one, but if you're hitting a couple hundred thousand dollars in annual revenue, you should be. Starting to establish, or I think this is, you know, one woman's opinion establishing a relationship with a lawyer or a law firm that you can turn to because you will start to see things pop up. It's not a matter of if it's when the longer you're in business, you're gonna have an unhappy customer or you're gonna have somebody under your group coaching program, who's unhappy and causing drama. like, there will just be, or you'll get a, a demand letter saying you've used somebody's image without permission. You are doing copyright infringement, you know, there's just, there's things that will pop up. Or you have a collaboration that goes bad. I mean, just, there's just, you know, business is about relationships and people are people, so things will happen. Diane: it's, such a, it's a key piece of a, like a contingency plan. Like I know a lot of people who grow and don't have contingency plans and that makes me wanna scream. But a big part of a contingency plan is understanding. Like you don't wanna have something happen to you and then find a Autumn: Right. That's the worst time, because it does take time. You wanna interview, you wanna get to know them, even, you know, best case scenario. It probably takes us a week, week and a half to onboard someone. And that's, if you know, we've got plenty of capacity, which we don't always So. Diane: Cause that's the thing. Or, and you wanna make sure that it's a relationship that if something hits the fan, they are available to help you. You're not competing with their other client who happens to be, I don't know, Tony Robbins, like your tiny little business is not gonna get Autumn: Any attention? Diane: In in, in, that moment. Right. So how far out do we think about legal? So is it a like, Hey, this is what I need right now. This is what I might need in three years. This is what I might need in five years, or is [00:12:00] this, this is so I'm gonna launch a course. I'm not, I'm just saying I'm gonna launch a course is one of the steps in my project plan for launching a course. What are the legal implications Autumn: Yes. Diane: this course? Autumn: Yes. It should be any new thing you're doing. You should just be thinking about it. And what we see happen a lot is that people come to us and they're like, so I'm launching a membership in two weeks and I need legal we're like, I really wish you had come to us three months ago because it does take some time to kind of work through the issues. And if we've got a draft, something, you know, to put it together, go through a couple rounds of revisions. It is, it's not like we can just spit something out. Like it is a collabo. Process to work on even just like a contract. So yes, I encourage people, you know, as part of your annual planning, if you're mapping things out, like go ahead and include that bef you know, almost as part of your marketing plan, like your contract. I can't remember if we've talked to us this before, but I almost think of your contract for a service or a product is like, At the end of your sales process, like that's where you seal the deal. It's not really done until that contract is signed and you're paid for it. So you need to be thinking about that as almost like an asset as part of your marketing campaign. Diane: I just wanna go on a tangent for a second, because I have a question that I wanna ask. What is the difference between. Me having someone accept my terms of service and them having a separate contract Autumn: So in the United States, we have a federal law called e-sign, which basically as long as you follow certain rules and they're not very stringent for online things like this, you have to take some affirmative action. So like you have to check a box, it can't be already checked or you have to type in your name or whatever. You have to have the opportunity to read it beforehand. So this can't be like, you get it over the phone and then you send it to me later. but as long as you can read it, first, you take some affirmative action and the person who's re who's receiving the signature is like keeping track. You know, there's some sort of audit trail, ideally which your software can capture that is just as valid. as a wet ink signature, you know, sitting down at a table with someone. Diane: [00:14:00] And is it just as valid as, so let's say somebody signs up for. A 12 week coaching package and on the checkout page, it says, you'll get this. These are the calls. These are the terms. Here's a link to the terms and conditions. Here's a ticky box sign out. Do I still need to send them a contract on top of that? Autumn: no, it's a good practice to send them a copy of whatever they agreed to, but you don't need to like have them DocuSign or SIG. Now the caveat I will put here is that if it's a higher dollar package, if there's like a weird refund policy or you have things you wanna really be sure they read because no one is going to read, no one is going to click through and read your terms and conditions. So, but that's almost more of a business like policy type thing. Like if there are things you wanna make sure they're aware of and you really want them to read it and understand it, then sending them a DocuSign will make them read it. Usually. Diane: what happens if those two things deviate? Which one rules. Let's say on the terms and conditions, it says like refunds are allowed within seven days. And on the other one, it says within 14 days, and it's like day 13 and they wanna refund, Autumn: So it's whatever they signed, Diane: but they Autumn: but ideally we don't want them signing different things. Diane: So actually, if you're doing really very standard things, you're better off having them. Look at your terms and conditions. If you're doing weird variable things, it might be better to Autumn: or you can put it on your sales page. I mean, there's lots of ways to communicate it, but, but consistency is ideal. we don't wanna bait and switch. We don't want, or a conflict where it's like, well, which one really is? Yeah. Diane: I think I just gave like about like full anxiety attack. I wish you could see your face. When Autumn: Like out. Diane: this is not from personal experience. This is just like, this is how my brain works Autumn: I have had people kind of a similar issue say, you know, I was hiring a contractor for X, Y, Z. They sent me their contract and I sent them my contract and we signed both. And I'm like, no, [00:16:00] just, pick one Diane: Right. Okay. Autumn: And if you need to change it a little bit, or if you need to add an addendum with some extra stuff, like that's fine, but we should ideally have only one place. Because, cuz I guarantee they're different for at least one or two things. And then that's a nightmare. Like which one did we really mean? Diane: Yeah, that seems to be a big one, like in the contractor space with like a Autumn: Like freelancers. Yeah. yeah. Diane: Okay. Autumn: So you don't have to have your own, you can sign theirs and you can read it and you know, make edits if you need to. That's another soapbox I will get on is that most contracts are negotiable other than those check the box, you know, terms and conditions. But. Diane: Yes. Yes. Okay. Well that, that makes me feel really good, cuz I make a real effort to make sure right above the check boxes, all of things, including the refund and then it's terms and conditions. But I had that moment the other day where I was like, should I also have a contract for this? And I was like, I don't know what to put in the contract. Like, do I need to go and get a contract template? what would you say to people who are like, okay, like I can think three months into the future, right? There are some people who are just like, that's, that's my capacity. That's as far as I can see, what, is there anything that you could be like, okay, listen, these five things apply to everybody and they will give you maximum CYA Autumn: Yes. Yes. Diane: And so even if you're in advanced business and you have a membership and you have a course and you should have legal agreements up the Wazu, if you've got these five things, Autumn: You're in pretty good ship. Yeah. Yes. So contracts is always the first one. And when we do a legal strategy call, I always go through every, go through. I say, tell me all the ways you're making money. So it hit me with all your revenue streams. And then I asked them about other things that they forgot to tell me. There's always one or two that they're not thinking about. And I asked, do you have a contract around each of those things with, with your purchasers or whoever, whatever, if it's an affiliate, if it, you know, add revenue, however you're making money, are, is there something in writing around that? So we start there because I wanna protect your money maker to start with. So that may be, you know, a project in and of itself to make sure you've got contracts [00:18:00] around all of. That's number one. Number two is making sure your website is compliant. So some of the things we've already been talking about having a privacy policy is required in all 50 states in the us, because everyone's doing. Business with California, so you can't get around it. If you're touching the UK. or Europe, you've got GDPR, which is just a higher standard. So you gotta have a privacy policy. No brainer required. And then we also encourage a website terms and conditions, which is basically a contract between your business and the people who are visiting your website. So it tells them can they, can they copy your images and use them? Can they take your freebie and, you know, sell it in their own chat? You know, you can kind of put some rules around how people interact with your website. I don't find most many people have blogs with comments anymore. That used to be a big thing. You could put some rules around commenting and that kind of. But if you have any weird interactive parts of your website, you might want some things around that. If you got a quiz, you. All of that can kind of go in your terms and conditions. And then disclaimers and disclosures. Those words are so similar. but they mean different things. So disclaimers is like what I gave at the top of the show saying, I'm a lawyer, but I'm not your lawyer. So if you have, if you're touching anything professional, like nutrition, medicine, even life coaching. Certainly business consulting you'd want an earnings disclaimer, like, Hey, I'm not promising. This is information. Take it and do with it, what you will, but I'm not on the hook if something goes wrong. Diane: I have one, on my podcast show notes that basically says this is not advice this is a conversation it's for informational purposes. Use it as you like consult professionals. Right, because I talk about a lot of topics and it's all over my website. Right. We're in 170 odd episodes. Like that's A lot of pitu to cover Autumn: Yes. Yes. Good job. So almost everybody needs a disclaimer. And then if you are sharing, if you are getting affiliate commission on anything that you're talking about, or if you have a, an Amazon storefront that you link to or anything, any. Anything you [00:20:00] share that could be considered, you know, affiliate revenue or ad revenue sponsored content. That is again under us law, federal trade commission rules. You have to disclose that you have a relationship with whatever company you're talking about. So that's a disclosure. The other website thing that I will highlight that is no one's talking about. I I'm get, my soapbox is getting a lot of use on this episode. Diane Diane: some deep breaths before, before we have the, the website thing that you are probably not Autumn: that you are probably not doing. correctly is using testimonials. There are actually rules around this. We see it come up most with people who are making like income claims. So if you're highlighting a client who made $200,000 in six months after working with you or for diet nutrition, like I lost 12 pounds in one week. There are rules around who you can highlight because you know, all the advertising rules are basically to make sure that you are not misrepresenting your results or misrepresenting what someone might get from working with you. So they want the FTC wants you only to use testimonials if they're quote unquote, typical of the results that people get. And we all highlight our superstars because those are the good testimonial. Diane: like off the top of my head name three websites that have got testimonials that are anything but typical because I know the backs stories. Autumn: Yeah. So you can still do that, but you have to do it in a way you have to have some special language and you have to, everyone should be keeping records of your client successes if you are using testimonials, because if you ever got called on the carpet, you would have to show like either, yes, this is typical. Or if not, you have to have disclaimers saying what your typical results are, which most people are not even tracking. Diane: Right. Autumn: So if you look at a weight loss website, like a big like weight Watchers or something like a big corporate one, you'll see these all over the place. Like results, not typical. Typical weight loss is X, Y, Z. Diane: Right, right. That that's interesting. I've seen the results are not typical, but I never realized that you were actually supposed to say what Autumn: What typical is? Diane: because I think a lot of people in business use or like the business consulting one with the, like, I made a million dollars by [00:22:00] just breathing differently for 30 seconds. Autumn: Near, near the coach. I was near the coach Diane: Yeah. Like, I, I, I once saw a picture of the coach and Autumn: millions just popped into my bank Diane: But I think we think we're covered by the disclaimer of like results may not be typical, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, which is like the huge disclaimer that everyone adds. But I didn't, I don't think I've ever seen one that said with typical results are Autumn: Yeah. All of this is supposed to be, which I think is ethical, like being upfront about what you can expect from the product or service. Diane: Yeah. And I guess it's, it's in line with, you know, a while back. I I'm sure it's the same in the us, but in the UK influences promoting actual products. We're responsible for like the product. Autumn: Oh, yeah. Well in the us, that's true. Yes. So as an influencer, if you are sharing, you know, you can get in trouble too. If you're sharing testimonials of other people and they're not typical, like you have to include those same disclaimers too. Cause it's, it's on the person who's doing the sharing. They're like little mini ads. Yeah. Diane: Okay. So Any other bombs you wanna drop today? Autumn: the, the caveat I will say here, and I don't wanna say this is not a big deal because it is like, this is a real law and the FTC takes it seriously, but this is another one of those, like, think of the proportional risk. If you have a very small business, the chance that you will end up on the FTCs radar is fairly slim. You know, the businesses who are getting in trouble with this are very large and are, you know, spending millions on advertising and. Cheating or fooling a lot, lots and lots of people getting lots of complaints filed against them. Like that's how this gets started. So take a breath. We wanna do things the right way. but Diane: but we don't all have to like take our websites Autumn: yes, yes. As, as you get bigger, though, you do need to take some of these more seriously because you do become more of a target. Diane: And I think, you know, for me, one of the things I always say to people is like, here's your plan? Like, where's your like refund pot? Right. Because a lot of issues in small businesses can be solved by giving someone their money back.[00:24:00] But the problem is, is if you Autumn: If you don't have it Diane: back, then you're now suddenly you have legal costs and PayPal disputes and, and all the things. Whereas , if you had a part and you just went, I'll just give you a money Autumn: right. You know, you're gonna get 3% no matter what, are probably gonna be unhappy. So you just kind of count for that. Diane: We forget about that. We forget that. Yes. Legal is terrifying. Yes. It's really scary to get like a letter or anything from a lawyer because lawyers are trying to scare you into doing whatever they want you to do. I'll never forget. And one of my, I was selling my flat and they came back with an issue. and they sent this letter and my lawyer sent it to me and she was like, I have to show this to you. And I freaked out. It was last thing on a Friday. I don't think I slept. It was a long weekend when I finally got hold of her on like the Tuesday, I was like near hyper ventilation. And she's like, Diane, it's just a letter threatening to send you a letter threatening you. Right. And, but that's the response that we have. Right. But we have to have that moment of like how much risk is there that couldn't be solved by just giving someone their money. And saying, I'm really sorry. Here's your money back. Autumn: Yeah. Well, and to that point, 95% of the issues that we deal with on a day to day basis, are these like unhappy customer or. You know, some, something small goes wrong and, you know, even we have had a couple clients who've been reported to their state attorney general for, you know, consumer protection things. And almost in every event, I'm like, give them their money back. they, that's why they did that. Like, you didn't really break any laws, but they're just real mad and they, you know, that's their leverage point to try and negotiate. Diane: a hundred percent and people like, they know they're scared of lawyers, so they know you are scared of lawyers. Autumn: know it will probably work. Diane: Exactly. Exactly. so. When we're thinking about the plan. So we talked about signing one contract when you're hiring contractors. So I'm thinking about like flipping it. So like not our legal stuff, but when we're signing, I don't know for a copywriter or a designer or whatever it is. [00:26:00] Are we thinking like, should that be on our project plan as well? So like, you know how we said, like, okay, as we're thinking, I'm gonna launch a course, one of the steps should be like, what do I need to legally think about? Should one of the steps also be, Hey, what about all the contracts I'm gonna have to sign? Autumn: yes. Yeah, anytime you're hiring a vendor and it doesn't mean, again, what's the risk. If you're paying $2,000 to hire a graphic designer to do you know, your launch ads, that's not a big investment. It's not that much risk. You might not wanna spend $3,000 on A lawyer going through and doing a revision cuz the contract may be terrible, but it's not that big a deal. But you probably wanna at least take the time to read it carefully and see like, is there anything crazy? And we even have some clients that we've kind of given a checklist like, Hey, if even if you don't send it to us, please just check and make sure it has these things. Cuz often it's missing. I see this a lot. They will put the person's name instead of the company name on the contract. You don't want that. They will not deal with how, what happens to the intellectual property. It just won't be in there. It nobody. So it's like, who knows, or you get the default rules, which is in the us, the contractor owns everything which nobody wants, but you can change that in a contract. But if the contract doesn't say anything, the contractor owns any, everything you don't want that. And then the big thing that we see is if either side wants to fire the other, like if we decide we're not happy, How does that work? Like, do they get a refund? Do you have to pay in full? Do you prorate it? Do you have to give notice often that's just missing so those are the things like if you're reading someone else's contract and you're like this isn't worth sending to my lawyer, I would at least look at those kind of key things. And again, you can probably negotiate if, if it's something really important to you. The other thing is just making sure it's spelled out, like what they're gonna do, what you're gonna pay payment schedule, you know, those kinds of. Hopefully that stuff is usually in there, but Diane: yeah, everybody's all over the money. Autumn: yes. And the scope of work Diane: is, this is, this is how much you're gonna pay me. And this is all I'm prepared to do for you. Right. That piece is covered. And I guess though, now post pandemic, we [00:28:00] probably also wanna make sure there's a little, there's like some kind of force clause in there that you at least know what's what's going on. I do think in entrepreneurial land and online land, we like to be really nice and really like, I understand that life happens and life happens and I hear people say this and then life happens to them. Autumn: And it's not okay. Diane: so remember how I told you that? Yeah, like really big risk over here with this person. And now it's happened and now you're kind of sitting there. So I do think having that little mental checklist of like, If I think of all the, what ifs, what does this contract say about it? That's I think that's kind of how I try to read one, but I am very well versed in trying to think of Autumn: you are thinking of all the things that could go wrong. you'd make an excellent lawyer. Diane: while I also think it comes from, I always joke with people that when they tell me a system, I'm already trying to think about how I can game it, which I think comes from audit. Is having to do all of those is to think through a system and think through where all the controls are. And I feel like once you've learned that you can't unlearn Autumn: it's hard to turn. I know they say lawyers are terrible. Well, entrepreneurs cause we are very risk averse and like we see how everything could go wrong. Diane: Yeah. Yeah. Like sometimes I see people do stuff and I'm like, really? I would never Autumn: But there's a lot of Cowboys out there. I know. Diane: Yeah. And then you go, like, what about this? And people are like, And so you like land up being the negative Nelly? Yes. I feel for you as a non-lawyer Autumn: I know. Diane: So one more thing I wanted to ask was about the recent changes that I know you have spoken about on Instagram and that has been in the press around like running subscription businesses, Let's be honest, we've really been taught to set it and forget it. And just happily start collecting the money after the free trial kicks in. Right. Which is not ideal, but it's pretty standard, but there's new law, right? It's fairly recent that like, you can't do that anymore. Or like you have to say like a billion notices. Can we just do a little summary of what that is? Cuz I think that's fairly recent. And I think people [00:30:00] probably haven't thought about that. Autumn: Yes. So this is again, we have our friends in California to thank for this. Although there are. other states in the United States that have of course slightly different rules but California's are the most stringent The, the goal with it. And I think we've all signed up for, you know, an app or something and we get the 30 day free trial and then we forget to turn it off, or we don't even remember that we have it. And then it just keeps charging us. And if you go and try and cancel it in the past, they have made that very difficult. so the new rules are supposed to both kind of remind you that you subscribe to the thing Before Before the payments kick in and then also make it much easier to cancel. So the new rules basically require either like a button on your website or a pre formatted email that you can send. And like that's all you have to do to cancel. There's a little bit more to it than that. I won't go into like the whole rabbit hole, but if you. have either like a membership or subscription model where you're doing a monthly or a yearly payment pay attention to this. It there's some things you need to change on your sales page. So there's some things on the front end you have to change. There's some things you have to change in your contract. And then there's just some process things you have to change, like sending these notices. Now you have to send, I mentioned in the beginning, it's a good copy. It's a good idea to send a copy of whatever someone's agreed to when they check that box. Now it's required. If you fall under these rules, not everybody falls under these rules, but especially like memberships and SAS are the big ones that I've been highlighting it for. Diane: Oh, I look forward to multiple reminder emails coming my Autumn: And none of it, it's, it's kind of like GDPR, which I felt like at the end of the day, like, it was a couple of annoying things you had to do, but it wasn't really that hard. The California thing is kind of like that. It's like, you're gonna have to do a little bit on the beginning and then you don't really have to worry about it. Diane: Yeah. It's like, it's more of a pain in the, but, but if you really think about it, it's still falls under the lick. Just be a good human. Autumn: Yes. It's just a specific way. You have to be a good human. Diane: right. It's just like stop taking money from people who've forgotten. They're paying Autumn: Or stop making it really hard to cancel. So I was a member of rent the runway a few years ago. I literally had to wait on hold for an hour. and a half to cancel my subscription. It's [00:32:00] just so like, that's not okay. And I'm glad. they're changing that. And you know, if all of us have to do a little more work, it's a, a net gain. And this is another one of those where there's lots of lawsuits. If companies are not complying, you're gonna get sued. If you're a big company, you're gonna get sued. Diane: Yes. Okay, thanks for clarifying that. Cuz I know it's a new one. okay. we've touched on a lot of things, right? I feel like we've made it quite and scary. Autumn: I hope so. Diane: me a couple of times. And then you've brought me back from the brink. So, you know, I'm hoping that like the listeners having that same experience of like, okay, I can do this, I can do this. I can do legal where you've mentioned something like say the privacy policy or a terms. And they're like, Mmm, I don't have that. I know you have like a whole little space that they can go to. They can get some templates, they can get some resources, tell us how they get more autumn Autumn: Yes. Yeah. So I mentioned, we work one on one with businesses who are usually kind of mid six figures or growing to millions. But our contract templates are a really good fit for newer businesses or businesses that just aren't interested being that big. And frankly don't need. Custom really expensive legal services. So those are at our website. They're B It's just my initials. BFI spelled like firm F I R They're all there and you can kind of choose like I'm a life coach or I'm a graphic designer and you can see what you need. Lots of, lots of choices. We have over 30 contract templates and we use them. with our own clients. So we are constantly making updates and improving them. If we see a new issue come up, that hadn't been an issue before we'll add it. You know, I used to work with a wedding planner and she joked that her contract had, like, there was a bride's name on every term. I feel like every time we see something crazy happen, we add, you know, add something to deal with it. So they're great. They take about 20 to 30 minutes to fill out very easy to use. And then you're kind of off to the race. Diane: So to finish up, I always like to ask a couple of questions of all of my guests. First of all, what is your number one lifestyle boundary for your business? Autumn: Hard. No. Is client calls after hours and weekends?[00:34:00] Diane: to find after hours. Autumn: Well I may, I have an Australian client. I shouldn't have said that. I made my rules. Diane: edit that out. I'm gonna edit that out. What time do your American clients stop getting access to you? Autumn: Like 6:00 PM. Eastern time is typical and weekends are like, not even like I've had people try and get me to do things in a, no speak at a conference, even like any of that stuff. I mean, unless I'm traveling to the conference. Diane: Yeah, I mean, you still like have young kids Autumn: I, yes. I have three children at home, and a husband. ‘ Diane: You got some stuff to Autumn: Yes. Diane: okay. Secondly, what is the worst piece of cookie cutter advice you've been given as an entrepreneur? Autumn: Oh, definitely. higher, slow fire fast. So we have a whole team. I mean, we have kind of an agency model now and that's definitely, I've spent the last two years kind of learning how to be a leader. And yeah, I just think that's very shortsighted, like, especially, you know, living in a pandemic when people are. they have a lot of stuff going on, but being too quick to just cut someone loose when maybe, maybe for the record, maybe I'm the problem. maybe I have not given good instructions or let go of, you know, I've delegated without authority or, you know, all the things we can do wrong as leaders. Diane: Yeah, I met a, a guy at, at a conference and we were talking about teams in particular and he was telling me how he just couldn't keep a VA. And like, like they just weren't performing. And he had to get rid of them and everything. And I was like, how many of you had, let's just say it was double digits. And I looked, I, I looked at him and I said to him, I'm gonna be really blunt. You are the Autumn: I was about to say what's the common denominator. Yeah. Diane: And he was like, no, but, and I think it was this advice of like, I've found people, they're not working people just let 'em go. And you're right. I think in the online space you grow so fast in the corporate space, you manage one person and then five people and then maybe 10 people, but you do it with somebody sitting next to you who manages. right. So you have that mentorship and that coaching that goes along with it. And I think we have this huge gap, which is why I'm like, [00:36:00] I'll get on my soapbox now, but we have this huge gap in, in terms of teams and leadership and management and team dynamics in the online space where. It's not supported, like it is in corporate and we just expect people to somehow learn how to do it. So I think that's incredibly self-aware to be like, oh actually, am I firing the person because of them? Or because of me, I couldn't possibly comment. I can't imagine it would ever be you. Well, this has been an amazing chat. I love talking legal with you. It always makes me feel like simultaneously, like terrified, but also really, really calm by the time we finished talking. Where is the best place for people to chat with you on social, to see all the like legal things they can be thinking about in the most friendly and non-judgmental way. Autumn: Yeah. So we're on all the places it's AWB firm. So that's our website, that's our Instagram handle. , so those are the places. Diane: awesome. Well, thank you so much. This has been fabulous.

Legal is intimidating unless you’re a lawyer so who better than a lawyer to make it feel simple and straightforward so we can get it covered and get back to our less scary zone of genius? 

Autumn Witt Boyd walks you through a reasonable risk-based approach to covering your business butt that will have you sleeping soundly.

Key Takeaway

Nine times out of ten in the online world, legal demands come from unhappy customers and can be solved with a refund.

We talk about

  • How to set your legal foundation
  • Creating a legal plan for your business
  • When it’s time to get a lawyer of your own
  • Your terms versus your contract versus their contract and what to use when
  • 5 areas that even advanced businesses need to consider to ensure they are legally covered
  • Autumn’s lifestyle boundary for her business
  • The worst cookie-cutter advice Autumn’s been given on her lifestyle business

About Autumn

Autumn Witt Boyd graduated in the top 10% of her class from Vanderbilt University Law School (a Top 20 law school) before ultimately landing as a senior associate at the premier copyright litigation law firm for photographers and stock photography agencies.

After spending the first 10 years of her career battling over copyrights and business issues in courtrooms across the U.S., Autumn left BigLaw behind to start the AWB Firm in 2015 so she could spend her days helping entrepreneurs build, protect, and scale their businesses the right way, instead of fighting with other lawyers.

When it comes to intellectual property and business strategies, Autumn is known as a thought leader in the online business community, working with influencers like Amy Porterfield, Chalene Johnson, Corinne Crabtree, and many more, to help them avoid costly legal mistakes while scaling their businesses. She’s also passionate about making sure solopreneurs and side hustlers who may just be getting started have access to the type of protection they need to build their business on a solid legal foundation with customizable contract templates.

Autumn is mom to twin boys, Sam and Tyson, and daughter Vivian. Her husband David is also an entrepreneur — he runs a construction estimating company, Quantify, LLC, and invests in real estate development projects. She definitely knows a thing or two about juggling!

Autumn loves to socialize (over coffee, or better yet, a glass of champagne!), read a good novel, monogram and put glitter on anything that sits still long enough, travel to new places, finish half marathons, and spend time outdoors.

Autumn is licensed to practice in Tennessee.


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The information contained above is provided for information purposes only. The contents of this podcast episode and article are not intended to amount to advice and you should not rely on any of the contents of this article or episode. Professional advice should be obtained before taking or refraining from taking any action as a result of the contents of this article. Diane Mayor disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on any of the contents of this article.