We all want a beautiful business, exquisitely crafted, that delivers magnificent results for our clients and gives us a wonderful life. Part of nailing business mastery is getting good at marketing what you do; the more you market, the more clients you attract.
As you sit back, you let out a sigh of satisfaction, your client base is building, you are feeling your way through the client sessions, you’ve embraced your strength and aware of your limitations.
Things are going well.
As you go through your business checklist, the things that make a business hum, you check off marketing, finances, and systems and processes but when you get to the legal aspect of business, you realise you have a massive gap. Like so many small businesses, you have overlooked legals.
As a businessperson, there are things that will come up where you will have need to cover off on – terms and conditions, payment processes, and client contracts. There is too much as stake to leave these things to chance. Like many things in life, you don’t know what you don’t know.
The first thing, when it comes to business legals, is addressing your mindset around the legal requirements and processes in your business.
If you remember why you are in business – to solve problems for your clients, based on the incredible relationships you develop, then implementing legal agreements in your business is all about developing the relationship you ideally want to have with your clients. Relationships reﬂecting your values and work processes, educating your client, and what will be fair to both of you in the dance that is your business and your purpose.
How do you adopt a mindset helping you to meet your (legal) obligations to yourself and your clients?
These five ways will help you:
- Your business is not just about YOU—it’s about relationships.
Understand that being a business owner, while being a wonderful personal journey, is also a responsibility that requires you to honour your business relationships. A key aspect is to have relationships thoughtfully drafted and available to your client through your legal agreements. This means how you do business, your payment terms, how you manage disagreements and how you will meet your obligations so none ever has to guess how you conduct your business.
- Embracing your legal requirements is about gaining negotiation skills.
These are critical to business success. The meaning of ‘legal’ is more than seemingly complex agreements and rules—at its core, it’s about the negotiation of common terms and conditions that are shared between you and your client about your service, your business, and your client’s obligations.
- Legal agreements in your business are a platform for negotiation, change, and discussion.
Examining and articulating your business relationships in agreements, terms, and conditions provides you with a platform to work from when you have to deal with a difficult or unexpected situation in your business. Without it, you have nothing to work from or towards, nothing to reference, nothing that can provide direction, and no platform for negotiation.
- Legal agreements are a quality control tool for your business.
Implementing business agreements with client and suppliers will require that you look at your business processes and your client interactions, to celebrate what is working, refine the ordinary so it becomes exceptional, and redesign or replace what’s not working.
- Embracing your legal responsibilities in business is an indicator of business maturity.
This means you have up levelled from a hobby mentality to that of a business person who considers their business worthy of legal protection and professional conduct.
Having business legals doesn’t necessarily mean having a legal document for every interaction you have in business.
It could mean having:
- a client agreement for your client work
- business terms and conditions for general services
- disclaimers for outcomes
- terms and conditions on your invoices so people understand how you to pay you and what they can expect in terms of cancellations and refunds
- a contractor’s agreement
- a speaking agreement
- a joint venture agreement for collaborations
- a non-disclosure or confidentiality agreement to protect your business ideas and discussions
Whatever the business interaction, addressing the legal position means giving thought to your interactions; quality assuring the processes involved; and articulating the processes, expectations, and the other party’s (client’s or supplier’s) obligations—all in a document that is made available to whoever you’re working with so they are educated and informed about what’s going on in their interaction with your service.
Knowledge is power for thriving entrepreneurs and clients alike, and your business legals mean that both parties can be comfortable in business interactions, because they know their obligations
First published in Hot & Healthy In Business Magazine, May 2019
Lawyer, Contract Specialist, Speaker & Advocate for Women in Business.
Drawing on more than 15 years’ experience as a lawyer and a woman in business, Shalini Nandan-Singh helps Australian service-based entrepreneurs protect their businesses and their bottom lines with empowered legal advice and contracts.
Encouraging listeners to #loveyourlegals, Shalini firmly believes that business legals should be an authentic extension of your business. Her goal is to educate audiences that, rather than confusing legalese, business legals should be an authentic extension of your business, creating positive business boundaries that support you in working with your clients with compassion and understanding.
Disclaimer: This blog is written to support business owners to consider legal requirements and issues that may arise in business. The information provided is for general and educational purposes only. It is not intended as legal advice for your individual circumstances. Please consult your lawyer for advice specific to you and your business.