Hello brand Builders Community. Welcome to the Influential Personal Brand podcast, AJ Vaden. Here I am one of your co-hosts, and I am joined today by not only a friend, but also someone that we happen to be a client of. So you guys are gonna get to hear from Heather in just a few minutes, but I wanted to as always, remind you why you want to stick around and listen to this episode. Now, there are some episodes that we do that are for very unique niche groups of you listeners. And there are some that are for every single one of you today is one of those episodes that is for every single one of you, because today we’re gonna talk about what do you need legally to protect and build your personal brand. So we’re gonna be talking about the legalese of what you need for IP sales agreements, contractor agreements, employment agreements, all the agreements, right?
This is service agreements. We could go on and on, copyrights, trademarks, whatever the, wherever the conversation leads us. What I have found in my own business and in my own relationships through other entrepreneurs is people often just default to one of two things. They suck it up and go hire an attorney and then complain about it, or they do nothing. And Heather has created this awesome middle ground. And we’re a customer. We’ve been a customer for about five years. I’m a huge advocate, and we’re gonna learn all about the details of that. But ultimately, if you have any concerns around like, am I really protecting my business legally? Do I, am I doing anything to actually protect my intellectual property, which actually does have a lot of value, then this is a conversation that you wanna stick around to. Not to mention if you stick around Heather is also thrown in a really awesome free bonus for all of you listening, which we’ll also have in the show notes.
So, okay, now let me formally introduce her, cause I could go on and on about why you should listen. But she and I were just talking about how we’re both moms of two little, so Heather is a warrior of mama, which I love that. Also you’ll find that her I don’t even think it’s a side hobby project, but your second business, a legal website warrior. I love that you call yourself a warrior mama. She’s a nature lover. She’s a dedicated attorney, attorney and legal coach for world changing entrepreneurs, which is all of you, right? She’s also the creators I mentioned of the legal website Warrior, which is an online business that provides legal education and support to coaches, consultants, online educators, speakers, and authors, which couldn’t be more perfect, perfectly aligned to serve the audience that we also serve. And so, without further ado, Heather, welcome to our show.
Thank you, aj. It’s so great to connect. Oh my gosh, I feel like we’ve been in this very synergistic alignment for years now, and I was just telling you like just a couple weeks ago, right? I met Rory in person, which it’s always so fun, and I was really hoping you would be there. It’s so fun to meet people that I’ve either been connected to or have worked with or provided support to in person. It’s like one of my biggest joys. And so it’s really great to be here today and connect with you. And I’m super excited because your people are my people, right? My people are your people. We serve the same audience, and it’s a really important conversation.
Well, and I would also say it’s like, not only is it an important conversation, I feel like with the way that the virtual world of business is growing at such a unbelievable rates and the content creator economy it’s, it’s kind of a necessity. And it’s one that most people, one, they don’t chalk up the books because they’re going, attorneys are ridiculous. Why is this so expensive? I feel that way often, and I’m, it’s such a blessing that we were introduced to you so, so many years ago. Or they’re just going, I don’t even understand what this means. So here’s my first question. Why a God’s green Earth? Do legal contracts and documents have to be so confusing? Like, why is there so much legalese that just makes everyone else feel dumb?
Right? So it’s interesting, yes, you, you will get court’s writing opinions because their job is to interpret contracts. And so there’s so much that people don’t see about what has gone into legal drafting and the current interpretation of, of legal language that is super relevant to this conversation. Yeah. And so what I typically do, the way that I approach that, especially with small businesses where it’s like, usually what we’re doing is getting a core set of documents in place for them, right? A core set of tools that are going to cover their primary services, protect their IP, support, their JV relationships, or some of the ways that they’re promoting and growing the brand, right? But it really is a limited set for the most part. And I’m a big believer that people should understand these tools and know how to use them in their business and have confidence using them in their business.
And so what I will do, and, and even if you think about like the enrollment conversation, right? So you guys work with big names and big brands, and you help people build these amazing personal brands or do a huge, you know, book promotional campaign or whatever, right? That all started with an engagement of some kind, right? And hopefully legal language that supports that relationship. And what I will often do is like create the, the version that clients will use, and then if they need me to, in order to support those enrollment conversations, create a cliff notes version. Like, here’s what this section means. Here’s what we’re, here’s the goal and our objective for this section. Here’s so that they can have the conversation directly with a potential but everyday client. Yes. With a potential partner that breaks it down so they don’t have to feel intimidated about presenting that contract and actually enrolling somebody. Right. Or misrepresenting what it right means, right? Right. So there are ways to deal with it, but ultimately, you know, for folks listening that are like, oh, can I just have the one page contract? My question again is gonna be, do you want a one page contract? Like, are you so committed to that versus actual protection in, in your business? There is a difference.
Yeah. Actually I wrote this down. I think that’s really, I think that’s really good because I hear this often of why does it have to be so long? Why is it so complex? Like, can we just make it simple? And you know, it’s like what you’re saying is, do you want simplicity or do you want protection? And those, those often can be the same, but often not. And I love what you said about this you know, lawsuit or whatever it is going on. And I always remember back in English class, the example, the simple example is let’s eat grandma versus let’s eat grandma. Right? Those are two really
Statements all based on a comma.
Right? And I think
That’s exactly it.
Yeah. And what you really have me thinking is, shoot, I need to have you go back over all of our contracts,
And it’s sometimes I get frustrated because I know the US specifically. So for those of you who are based in the us, we’re way more litigious than many countries. And at the same token, you know, there’s sometimes you just gotta play the game even if you don’t like it a little bit. And so what is that game for people who are building their personal brand? So what are the fundamental assets? And when it comes to legal documentation for the, you know, author, speaker, coach, consultant out there, or one who is aspiring to do that. And I think that’s the first is, you know, I’ve just thinking of all the different conversations we can have around just ip, right? Just ip, we could have the next two hours. So we’ll just, you give us what you think this audience needs to hear, cuz I know you know it really well, but what do we need to protect our personal brand?
Yeah. Such a good question. And I, I wanna comment really quickly on your reflection of the US market being very litigious. Yes. And part of that is we are a very commercial mm-hmm.
If you are anywhere in the world, this conversation applies to you in part because the concepts are really the same wherever you’re at. And most likely, if you are like so many of AJ and Rory’s clients or like the types of clients I serve, your business is international. You are not, not restricted to your geographic boundaries and you are reaching people all over the world with your message, your opt-ins, your email newsletter, right? So, so the, it’s really important for you to understand the framework because mm-hmm.
So you may have to swap the actual strategy or solution, but the framework is the same. So that’s a quick overview. And if you’re reaching into the US because a lot of international clients get this wrong. They, they don’t think about their, their risk from the standpoint of needing to understand u US laws u us i p laws as well, just from the fact of reaching it because they don’t know legal concepts. Why, how would you, how could you know legal concepts if you’re not an attorney based in the US that does business law? Right? So for example, I had one client, really gang buster’s business, very well known. He’s based in Canada, but probably 70 to 80% of his business comes from US-based clients, right? He does live events, he does online events, he’s a speaker, he’s an author, right? He does all the things that this audience does, and he’s advertising on Facebook and social media platforms to the US-based audience.
And guess what? Get slapped with. Basically it was initially a cease and desist and then lawsuit from a US-based company who owned the trademark that he was using in Canada to reach into the US with. So even if you are established in your home base, if you have not done the research in the US around the phrases, the names, the things that you’re using, you could be in trouble. Right? And so for him, we ended up in this battle. It, it luckily, you know, I got involved early enough, we were able to keep the train on the, on the tracks, and we ended up buying out two registered marks from the US based company. And so now his brand can run wild in the US but that was completely an unexpected hurdle for him, right? And so, so it is just a reminder, I wanna set the context because it’s a reminder that if you’re listening and you’re in this audience, the world has become a lot smaller based on the digital age and online e-commerce. And you do have to really understand the rules of the road. So, okay. I know that sounds scary and people are like, oh crap, I just wanna turn this off right now.
Oh, that’s, so, honestly, that’s such a great reminder of for all of us, of going, you know, I mean, most of us would probably love to spend our money in other areas. Oh yeah.
Be honest. Oh yeah. However, being the outside of the vehicles, right?
Yeah. But imagine building an entire brand around something and then to get a cease and desist. So it’s like, like everyone just let that like sink in for a moment. And that gives me a little bit of heartburn,
And I wanna get back
To your question. Yeah. That’s a good reminder to everyone of like, yes, you think it’s not, doesn’t pertain to you, but it it ultimately does
It, it ultimately does. And it, the analogy is like we get into vehicles, most of us every day, right? We put on our seatbelt, we, you know, do certain things before we drive down the road to make sure that we’re safe. In the online world of business, people just fly into that space. No seat belts, no understanding of the rules of the road, and yet they are entirely responsible for understanding mm-hmm.
I will just say, well, I’ll just second thought one quick thing is not to mention there not to frighten anyone, that’s not the point. This is helpful conversation, but I’m a part of EO at the Entrepreneur’s Organization here in Nashville. And about a year ago, maybe two years ago when everything was just going not so of everyone going digital and online, there were people out there intentionally hunting out websites that were not a d a compliant and then slapping you with lawsuits. Right? I mean, there are people that make a business out of your lack of policy understanding compliance and legalese. Yeah. You know, and you’ve got the whole thing with GDPR that, you know, it’s, there’s so much to learn. It’s like, it’s impossible for the everyday entrepreneur by myself to keep up with that just like taxes. Yeah. Which is why I think what you’ve created with legal website warrior is so, so helpful. Okay. I could get sidetracked five more times. So no,
Though though, these examples bring it to life, right? Yes. Because I think a lot of people sit back, I mean, before we went live, you and I were talking about how people just don’t look into this bucket, right? There’s so much resistance or fear or whatever. And, and I think there’s also what, what I see and have seen for years, cuz I’ve been practicing law for over 20 years now, right? It’s people discount themselves and the size of their business before they even get started. So I, I often hear like, well, I’m too small or I’m not really, I’m not really like that business that needs a A B, C X, Y, Z or whatever. Let’s be clear that 99.9% of all businesses in the US are small businesses. That’s right. We, you guys, we are the marketplace. We are the marketplace from a numbers perspective. Sure. You hear about all the big businesses, Starbucks and Nike and IBM and whatever those are, you
Know, our few and
Compare Microsoft. Yes. And of course they throw a lot of weight around. They’re big brand names. And when you hear about data breaches and stuff, it’s those big businesses that you hear about. But small businesses every day are battling the same battles in their businesses that they just don’t get reported on. Right. And, and it’s important to understand that collectively we have so much influence and so much sway and are responsible for such a huge percentage of, you know, annual G D P. I mean, it’s just massive. And so we also have to elevate our own thinking around where we fit and what our role is and the reality. And I’m a huge believer that a rising tide lifts all boats. The more of us that can get educated, especially in the mission driven, impact oriented business space, the better we can be at business. Amen. The better our peers are gonna be, the, the more impact we will all collectively have for good. And thi this is the whole point, this is the whole point of business of what I do, probably of what you do, right? I mean, I just feel it to my bones. It’s what I get up every day to do is elevate the level of business that my clients are in.
I love that.
So back to your question about like, where do we start? What do we really need? What are the essentials? Right? Especially as a personal brand or a, you know, different names expert based business, solo entrepreneur, right? But a lot of solos, like they end up building small teams over time as they build these businesses. So it’s not that we all stay there but what do we need and how do we not count ourself out of the conversation to begin with? So, and I have a framework and I think that’s probably what I will share at the end, right? That for people that wanna walk through and understand the whole framework, I’m laughing because in Rory’s live presentation a few weeks ago,
I have a framework for that. So I have a framework for this map and I, I give it away for free and I teach on it and I speak to it. And it is the same framework that I give to free to clients who go through my legal basics bootcamp. It’s the same framework that I walk people through for clients that want a risk assessment of their business and they pay me a couple thousand dollars to do that. It’s the same framework that I implement for my Catalyst Club clients that are paying me $25,000 a year to do this work inside of their business. Right? It’s the same. So you are getting the same framework I teach to my clients that are making two and 3 million in revenue a year and are really in that scaling phase and are playing catch up on their legal needs, right?
So, so again, you’re not too small, you’re not too small to learn this, you’re not too small to get started on this. So where do you start? Step one, and this is even before we get to like some of the essential business contracts, is do you have a business legal entity set up? Right? It is the difference between protecting your personal assets and what you’re building on the personal side of your life and not protecting it, like hanging that out to dry. And I, I spend a lot of time on this point and some people listening are like, yeah, yeah, yeah, I’ve had my entity for years. But understand 60% of the US marketplace of small businesses in the US marketplace, sole proprietors, 60%. It’s a massive number of people that never get to step one in my framework of actually setting up a proper legal entity.
Whether that’s a C corporation, whether it’s an L L C. Yeah. So it is a really relevant issue. And if you’re listening thinking like, well, you know, I’m kind of an island, I have a home-based business, I’m just a coach or whatever. No, stop it, stop minimizing yourself because there is real liability that goes along with your business model, with your work. And even though the liability might be less than, for example, running a on location-based gym
So real one real quick question, I won’t derail promise. Do you have a entity preference for people getting started? Recommendation?
I totally do. And it’s because most of my clients fit within this particular model right now. There’s always exceptions. So if you’re listening and you’re like, look, I’m gonna, you know, here’s where I’m starting, but my ultimate goal is in five years to, you know, build this mega machine and spin it off and sell it for a hundred million dollars. Like that’s a different path. You’re more of a traditional startup path. You need to start in a different place, right? Who I’m speaking to are the personal brand builders that are creating a business because through that business model, they get to fulfill their personal mission in the world. They get to do meaningful work that changes the lives of their clients, changes their industry landscape. So it’s about, it’s actually about being able to do the work. Mm-Hmm.
That that’s who I’m talking to. And if you are there and you’re like, okay, great, and maybe you build a small team, maybe you do other things and your business doesn’t totally look like just a solo personal brand builder, entrepreneur for life, that’s fine. You’ve got flexibility. But I would recommend the l l C model because it’s easier to manage mm-hmm.
So it’s not that complex, it’s like filing a single form, but what it does is it results in some tax savings for you if you’re an L L C and you’re really starting to generate revenue. So this is also one of the benefits of setting up an L L C is you have some flexibility in tax treatment, you can make that election at any time and really bring some additional benefit into your financial life. Amen. So I know check, check six, check. Yep. So, and yes, if you have questions, get in touch, go visit any number of my past, ask me anything lives like this is something that I drill into people and cover a million times. So there’s more out there on this topic. But also if you’re like, well, does this really apply to me? Again, when do you hire an attorney? Is if you’ve got something really unique and you just need custom advice, right?
Right? And then let’s pretend you’re like, okay, I, you know, my next step is that I’m building out more of my online presence and maybe I wanna create my first digital course. Great. Going online, which a lot of people have had to do, right? Thank you Covid. I spent a huge portion of the first year of covid, like trying to help anybody in my database. Like, get online, get your stuff protected, get the website protection package, right? Whatever. It’s, it, the online hub, often as you evolve in, in these types of businesses, becomes like your home base for your business, right? You’re setting yourself up as an expert in the space. You’re publishing articles or blogs or maybe video tutorials or something that drives traffic to your website. Again, builds credibility, right? You might do other things as well as you evolve, launch a podcast mm-hmm.
So the difference, and, and you know, for folks listening that are like, oh, well I can just go get some free templates online,
Well, and not to mention on that note of borrowing with the bunny
Oh, right. Or even worse, somebody else’s business listed in your like
Oh, people. And, and this is, you know, I have to get on my soapbox for just a minute because on this point, whether it’s legal, whether it’s somebody else’s content, right? Like we all have different areas of expertise. The thing that I teach repeatedly and embed into my audience and my list and people that show up and engage in my life calls is if you did not create it or hire somebody to create it or pay for the right to use it, do not even for a split second, think about taking this off the internet. You can get in such hot trouble so fast. So for example, let’s talk about even just taking something legal related from somebody else’s site. One, if it’s truly worth taking, they paid
For it, right? And it’s customized and it
It’s customized. They hired somebody to do it. So tell me how you feel about showing up and taking something that they paid somebody else to create for them. It’s just unethical and there’s not Wow.
You know, it’s like, this is like one of those things. It’s, it’s like what I tell my kids all the time, I’m like, at the end of the day, no one, not every mom specifically is not gonna know all the things that you do. So only you’re gonna know the choices that you make. And it’s like, this is like, you know, parenting 1 0 1, it’s like act like someone’s always watching and would you do this if mom was standing right next to you? And it’s like, I do that. I am a big believer in, in God and it’s like, I’m always like, nobody else might see this, but he does. So totally. What am I doing? And I think a part of it is, it’s like it’s gonna come to bite you in the tail. I literally read through other people’s stuff and I’m like pretty sure that’s not your company. And they’re like, oh crap. Missed that. So glad you saw that. I’m like, ok, you should probably go back and read that, please. Well, Anna, no, I have a quick question for you because I wrote this down as you were talking so I didn’t forget we would come back to it. So this has been an ongoing conversation in our own company because this is where I get free legal advice for two minutes.
Happy to provide it, right? Better listen up folks, listen up.
But like, we have like five different product and surface offerings, right? We have courses, we have memberships, we have Immersives, we have Mastermind, we clearly have products. So like we have all these different things. We do book launch fulfillment, we have lots of offerings. And the question has been to simplify, do you need a service agreement for each one of those individually, right? Or the complaint has been, oh, can’t we just like have one that mentions everything And our default has, like, I know it’s more annoying, it creates so much work when we do like company-wide updates, but we have a service agreement for every single thing individually. Mm-Hmm. Is that overkill or could we consolidate?
Oh, this is such a good question. And as brands grow, this really becomes an increasingly important question. And if you’re listening and you’re thinking like, well, I just have, you know, two or three things right now that I am doing in my business, still super relevant. Because you need to be able to make strategic decisions as you grow. And the the key part of this conversation because there are multiple ways to, to do what you’re asking about, right? And yes, you can have a client service agreement that looks like an actual quote unquote traditional legal agreement. People either sign it physically or through like DocuSign mm-hmm.
I have read and agree to the terms of purchase whatever, which I have never done ever, but okay, right.
Optimize for numbers, optimize for the ease of enrollment. That can, that can work all the way up to multiple hundreds, even a couple thousand, you can do terms of purchase with that process, right? And some people, even with higher dollar amounts are still gonna prefer digital because it’s better for their business model and their business system. Mm-Hmm.
So generally what that looks like is memberships you know, any digital offers that are pre-recorded. So courses, you know, those kinds of things that are hosted on platforms optimized through terms of purchase, a digital click. You have to do it the right way. Let’s be clear, there’s lots of wrong ways that people are still doing this. Sure. So you have to do it the right way to have adequate legal protection. And that’s part of what I teach inside of my website protection package. But if you go through the effort of, and it’s not that much effort, I’ll be clear, it’s just about knowing where to put things, what order. A lot of people just do this stuff out of order. Mm-Hmm.
Right? Gotcha. Now if you’re running, let’s pretend like one of my clients is running to just launched like a $29,000 a year. Pretty elite. Like it’s invite only membership club for women. That’s combination like networking, you know, masterminds. She’s bringing in like really famous people in the business world to talk to these folks. So she’s very high level. Do people want to click a box and enroll that way? Probably not. Yeah. You really, if you have that business model, you are optimizing all the way for user experience and you’re optimizing to also create and ensure that you have very high level clients in that experience. Right? Optimizing for clicks for easy enrollment means you’re gonna have a few misfits mm-hmm.
Yeah. Super helpful. Really good. And I think that just even those little points of delineation just help so much of like, what do I need when, yeah, so totally. I’m watching the clock and we have like seven minutes. Okay. And so we talked a little bit about entity structure, super helpful business contracts, right? Mm-Hmm
Super easy to implement.
It’s a no brainer. Like if you don’t have those things and you need to go to our affiliate link to have a legal website warrior which I will put in the show notes, but if you don’t use our affiliate link, just go cause it’s worth it. The website protection kit is just such a no-brainer because people are hunting people like us out online and going, oh, they don’t have this boom, I’m gonna sloppy you with a lawsuit or you can just pay me this amount of money and I’ll forgo it. Like I know that’s Steves, but unfortunately, like I know three people that happened to with the A D I A D A compliance issue. Yeah. so just do it, right.
Just do it. And the final point I will add about that because it is kind of a templated package. You modify certain parts, but it is pre-built for this very, very narrow niche that I serve. It is not for the industry at large, it is not for bigger business. It is, it is not even for brick and mortar like, you know, mom and pop selling widgets, gidgets and gadgets, but like it’s for a very specific type of business. And so it’s literally pre-built to fit your business model right out the box. And that’s what I cared about doing with all of my documentation,
Which means a lot. And just little things like you don’t think about like earnings disclosures and
Just understand like any exchange of value that you have in your business, right? Maybe you’re hiring independent contractors or employees or, or you’re working with JVs or affiliates or you know, any number of ways that you’re exchanging value through your business. Maybe it’s additional services or offerings. Mm-Hmm.
The next bucket, and we won’t talk about all the buckets, right? And if you want more information on the other buckets, just go through my little freebie. It’s super fast. Five minute videos delivered once a day for a week, like five days. Yeah. So it’s super easy, very accessible. It’s gonna link you to other resources and things you can go take a peak at. But the third bucket ip, I really want to talk about ip, right? Because a lot of people are like, well what about ip? Understand you do a lot of heavy lifting to protect your IP in the contracts bucket. Mm-Hmm.
Yeah. Think of your brand or your business as a mountain trademark registrations protect what’s visible from the marketplace. So if you live close to a mountain, you know that like what sits above the clouds or your city or whatever is the Snowcapped Peaks the very top of that mountain. That’s what trademarks protect. This is gonna be your business name. Mm-Hmm.
And all of the folks that I serve are massive information publishers. Like you literally need to think of yourself as a publisher, like even Rory of a framework for that, of a framework for that, right? We publish when we’re experts in our spaces, massive amounts of information. So registrations are available to protect that trademark registrations, protect the top copyright registrations, protect the body of your work. So if you’re publishing books, if you’re, you know, creating a video series, like I said, all the ways that your work is actually taking a tangible form in the world.
I’m so good. And that’s such an easy way to think about it too. Yeah. Jessica, people get
Those, yes, get them mixed up all the time. And I just want, like, I’m such a visual person, I just want you to remember that analogy of the mountain trademarks are at the top, which means also that they’re a little bit more of an investment. They take a little bit longer to obtain super, super powerful assets to have in your business. And then copyrights, you can be strategic about what you protect. And my question for you if you’re listening right now is like, where do you start when it comes to co copyrights are much more accessible. You can file them on your own and it’s like $45, very, very accessible, right? So whether that’s a video suit series or a workbook, or maybe you’ve self-published a book, ask yourself like, what is the best expression of your work or your framework or your ideas? And start with that. Like you have core assets in your work, start with those. You don’t have to register everything, but start with what you know to be core to your work, right? Mm-Hmm.
Oh, this has been so helpful, y’all. Like we could literally go off and on and on talking about this. This is like scratching the surface as Heather mentioned. She’s offering a free little mini course. I’m gonna put the link to access that in our show notes. I’ll also put a link to her company legal website warrior. If you want to use our affiliate link, do it.
Check, right? I know there’s been, like I said, in parallel universes for so long. I should go check up and we can chat if there’s anything that you’re missing. But I so appreciate you. I what I want for people, cuz some people are probably listening and still feeling overwhelmed. Just understand. The thing that I love most about entrepreneurs is their grit. Like the perseverance, the willingness to like roll up those sleeves. Mm-Hmm.
Ah, so good. Heather, thank you so much for being here. Everyone else stay tuned. Check out our Cliff Notes version of this episodes and we’ll see you next time on the influential Personal brand. See you later guys.