Are you a new coach who wants to start your business the right way? Or maybe you are an established coach who never got around to the “legal stuff”? Either way, contracts are one of the best ways to protect yourself and your business from an expensive legal mess.
Why are contracts so important? First, contracts build trust, and they send the message that you are taking your business seriously. Second, it’s just a matter of time before you get that client who keeps rescheduling last minute or asks for a refund after not engaging with any of the content. A contract can protect you when that happens. Finally, if you have a website, contracts can protect you from various kinds of liability you probably didn’t even know existed.
If you are seeing clients 1-to-1, have a website, or are using independent contractors, here are 5 contracts you can’t live without.
1. Client Agreement
Your Client Agreement is one of the most important contracts you can have as a coach. This is because it spells out all the terms of the coaching relationship so if there is ever a dispute, you have something to fall back on.
What kind of dispute? Maybe your client is unhappy with your services and wants a refund. Or maybe they thought you’d be meeting 1-to-1 when it’s actually a group coaching program. Maybe they took your recommendation, had a bad outcome, and now they want to sue you.
Your refund policy, a clear explanation of the coaching sessions, and dispute resolution terms should all be spelled out in your Client Agreement. Getting it in writing now is much less expensive than hashing it out in a lawsuit later.
2. Testimonial Release
One of the best ways to get new clients is by having former clients give you testimonials. A written or video testimonial builds credibility and gives you social proof. But you don’t want to use the testimonial without getting written consent from the speaker or writer first.
It is not enough that a client has sent you an email praising your service or has spoken to you with positive comments. To reuse those statements in any form of promotional context, the person who spoke or wrote them must first give their consent in a signed Testimonial Release.
3. Independent Contractor Agreement
If you are using virtual assistants in your business, or any other kind of freelancer like a marketing consultant or website designer, you need to protect your business with an Independent Contractor Agreement. There are many things that could go wrong in the relationship including theft of confidential information, solicitation of your clients, and liability if the freelancer messes up.
Your Independent Contractor agreement should address all of these issues. You also want to make clear for tax reasons that the worker is an independent contractor and not an employee.
Finally, you should have a provision saying any content or intellectual property created by the independent contractor is owned by you, not them.
5. Website Terms & Conditions
A Terms & Conditions might include a disclaimer that limits your liability for the outcome for the use of your site. It might spell out usage restrictions and prohibited activities while using the site. It may state what the company is prepared to do in cases of abuse of your site, like terminating an account. It can also claim ownership to the content and other intellectual property on the site. The Terms & Conditions is not required by law, but it’s a very good idea to have one regardless.