How to Take Inventory Of Your Online Business Assets (so you can protect them!)

How to Take Inventory Of Your Online Business Assets (so you can protect them!)

Let’s play pretend for a minute.

Imagine you decided to open a brick-and-mortar store selling candles. You have a variety of candles in different sizes, shapes, scents. There are specialty candles and candles for certain occasions. Your assets also include all the display fixtures, tables, signs, point of sale equipment, and so on. 

Before selling your first candle, you would create a list of your inventory, right? And then you’d likely go to your insurance agent and present the total value of your storefront plus all its contents (ie: your assets) to make sure you’re insured properly. 

That way, in case someone breaks in and steals your goods, or there’s a fire, your insurance is in place to cover the losses. But what if you failed to document the number, type, and value of all your inventory? 

Is the insurance company going to take your word for it when you claim a loss of 591 candles, 23 display fixtures, a Square reader, and $2000 worth of signage? 

Not unless you have a detailed inventory. 

Tell me, why on earth should you operate your online business any differently? Your assets are just as valuable as a store full of physical property. Online business assets include things like your online course content, PDF downloads, website content & design, blog posts, as well as the value of your name and good reputation with your audience. 

What happens if thieves show up, or if a figurative fire (say, a cease & desist letter) threatens to burn down what you’ve built? 

How will you prove what you own? How will you value the total of your losses? And most importantly: what insurance did you have in place to protect your assets and help you recover?

As an online business owner, your insurance comes in the form of bright, shiny circle Rs and circle Cs, aka trademarks and copyrights. There are other legal protections too, of course, but these are the big guns. 

You MUST take inventory of your intellectual property. This is the most valuable asset your business has, and if you fail to protect it, it’s like leaving your candle store wide open with a sign inviting thieves and arsonists inside. 

Ready? Yes, you can do this right now! 

 

STEP 1: Answer these questions

  1. Which of your business names, logos, and/or slogans are you absolutely in love with, as in, you would be brokenhearted to lose?
  2. What does your audience know and recognize you for? A program, logo, name, podcast? 
  3. Which offer/program/service are you most excited about?
  4. Which offer, program, or service is making you money right now? 

 

STEP 2: What kind of IP is it? 

  1. Brand Identity = Trademark Eligible (for example: names, logos, taglines, hashtags)
  2. Content = Copyright Eligible (for example, blog posts, online courses, PDFs, books)

Decide which piece is most important to secure right now.

Note: my advice is always to start with the name/mark you intend to be your house brand. It’s long-lasting, not seasonal. It’s your client-facing, consumer-facing brand that you have invested in and that your audience recognizes as uniquely yours.

STEP 3: Chat with me about it

Book a free consultation call with me where we’ll review your current IP assets. I can talk to you about what makes the most sense to prioritize, and then we’ll draw up an action plan to make it happen. 

Please don’t wait to take care of this! I have way too many of these calls turn into impromptu therapy sessions as people burst into tears after learning that it’s already too late. 😢

Book your call now → 

 

June 29, 2022 — Layne Lyons Pecoff
You Work Hard for That Money! Here’s My #1 Legal Tip to Keep it Safe

You Work Hard for That Money! Here’s My #1 Legal Tip to Keep it Safe

Be honest now: Are you doing everything you can to KEEP and PROTECT the money you work so hard to make?? 

It’s certainly exciting to see all those paid invoices roll in and all the new clients flock to your doorstep, but how safe are you from money woes like refund demands, chargebacks, and ghosted payment plans?

Allow me to share an all-too-common money problem I see these days: 

A client pays you via an online payment processor like Square, Venmo, or PayPal. A few weeks later, they apparently get buyer’s remorse, because you receive a notice from the payment company that they’ve requested a refund. 

This can go one of two ways: 

  1. The company sides with the customer, issues the refund, and you lose your money.

OR

  1. You present your signed contract with a clearly stated “No refunds after 7 days” policy, and the refund request is canceled. You get to keep your money! 🥳

Without a written refund policy in place, you have no way to prove that you should keep the client’s payment. Paypal/Venmo/Square likely won’t care if you’ve already rendered services or delivered the product — their main concern is keeping their consumers happy and feeling protected.

MY main concern is keeping YOU feeling happy and protected. 

That’s why I’m sharing my best, easy-to-apply tips for implementing a solid refund policy, right here, right now, just for you! 

When it comes to keeping the money you make, your first line of defense is your REFUND POLICY.

Important note: I am not telling you that you have to offer refunds — that’s your business policy, and it’s up to you to make that decision. What I am saying is this: Whatever your refund policy is (even if it’s that you don’t offer refunds), it must be crystal clear, in writing, and communicated to your clients/customers in the right places.

Alright, so how do you accomplish this? 

I’m so glad you asked!  

Your refund policy must cover: 

  • How much of a refund you’ll give (50%, 100%, etc)
  • How long the refund period is (7 days, 30 days, 90 days, etc)
  • What your client must do to request a refund

Add this written policy to:

  • Your 1:1 Client Agreements
  • The Terms of Use for your online courses, group programs, and digital downloads 
  • Your Website Terms and Conditions (in the “commerce” section) 

Don’t overcomplicate this: your refund policy can be short and simple. Just make sure you cover all the above elements! 

To be rather blunt, without a stated refund policy in place, your money is in danger. 

But the good news is that it’s a quick and easy change to make! Once you get that refund policy in place, you’ll have peace of mind knowing your money, your hard work, and your business’s bottom line is safe and sound.

 Are you already my client? You’re in luck! All my contract templates provide you with everything you need for your crystal-clear, well-communicated, super-protective written refund policy.

Need help with your refund policy or any of your client agreements? Click HERE to book a call with me, and I’ll get you all set up.

June 29, 2022 — Layne Lyons Pecoff
3 Easy Steps to Protect Your Online Empire

3 Easy Steps to Protect Your Online Empire

Online presence is everything these days. From your website to your social channels to your email list, your e-presence is crucial to your visibility and success as an entrepreneur. 

Have you ever wondered: Is all of your online real estate actually safe and secure?? 

Most of us do a darn good job keeping our physical real estate safe. We lock doors and windows, install security systems and cameras and ask our friendly neighbors to keep an eye out when we leave on vacation.

We put up window coverings to protect our privacy. We know where the boundaries of our property are so we can be sure we aren’t encroaching on our neighbors, and they aren’t encroaching on us. 

Guess what? Your online real estate needs the same kind of protections! Without three key pieces in place, you are leaving the door open to legal drama.  And it is my mission to make sure entrepreneurs like you don’t make that mistake! 

Today, I’m sharing the top 3 ways you must protect your online presence - the what, why, and how of it all. Let’s dive in!

First, you need to have your Website Terms and Conditions clearly posted on your website. Basically, the terms and conditions language sets up all the ground rules for your website. It tells anyone who visits your site how they can and can’t use your content (no swiping allowed!). It covers your online commerce policies, how you handle disputes, and it declares a limit on what your financial liability is in case things go off track. 

This is your #1 most crucial line of protection that you must have before going live with a website. 

Next up is your Privacy Policy. This lets everyone know how you collect, use, share, store and protect your visitors’ information on your website. Basically, it’s a promise to your website visitors that you won’t share or misuse their personal information, like selling email addresses to spammers. Having your privacy policy posted gives people confidence that you respect and will protect their privacy. Also, failing to have a privacy policy that is GDPR compliant can result in hefty fines. Not good!

Lastly, you need to have a Website Disclaimer. This is a statement that tells people who you are and what you do. More importantly, it tells people who you are not and what you do not do. This clearly defines what you will (and will not) bring to the relationship, preventing you from being blamed for any negative results. It’s like a very important asterisk declaring *I am not a medical professional/This is not an attorney-client relationship/My marketing advice does not guarantee your launch success/Consult a qualified CPA before acting on the financial education I provide…etc, etc, etc. 

If you already have these things in place, amazing!! I suggest taking a quick peek at each of them to make sure everything is clear and up to date. 

Missing something? Don’t panic! But do take action ASAP so you don’t get yourself into any legal hot water. You can grab my customizable templates via the links below:

Website Terms & Conditions

Privacy Policy

Website Disclaimer

Better yet, you can grab the Legal Foundations Bundle and save yourself loads of $$ and headaches! It includes these 3 key contracts, plus 7 other foundational agreements, including a 1:1 client agreement, testimonial release, and more.  

You’ve worked hard building your online presence. Take action to keep it safe, secure and drama-free. You will be so glad you did! 

June 29, 2022 — Layne Lyons Pecoff
Don’t make this $60k mistake

Don’t make this $60k mistake

Oh boy, do I have a story for you today! 😅

As a business lawyer for women entrepreneurs, I’ve seen my fair share of contract drama and legal mistakes, but Amanda’s story really takes the cake. It truly highlights why drafting your own contract can be a total nightmare.  

Amanda had spent months preparing for a huge launch. She spent countless hours perfecting her product, hired the best contractors, and she networked like crazy, creating relationships with nearly 100 affiliates. She handled ALL the details — everything except her affiliate contract. 

Almost as an afterthought, Amanda Googled “affiliate agreement” and typed up a short and sweet contract that outlined payment structure and such. 

Launch time rolled around, and… Everything was a SMASHING success!!! 

Amanda’s sales went through the roof, exceeding all her expectations. She was THRILLED!!!

Her affiliates were thrilled too. She stayed true to her written agreement with them and paid out their generous commissions. Everyone did their own versions of a happy dance! 

But then (there’s always a “but” to these stories)... 

The refund requests started rolling in… 😬 Amanda had offered a super generous refund policy, promising a no-questions-asked-no-time-limit refund, and when all was said and done… she had to refund 38% of her overall sales. Which, to be fair, isn’t too far out of line with industry standards. 

She honored her refund policy, of course…but what about all those affiliate commissions she had paid out on the refunded sales? Her affiliates needed to pay her back, right? After all, those sales they had sent to her were no longer sales… they had vanished… 

Her affiliates said no. 

And they were well within their rights to do so — the contract Amanda had drafted for her affiliates said absolutely nothing about refunds!!  Nothing in her contract said her affiliates would need to return commissions for refunded sales. 

YIKES.

Because Amanda used an incomplete, DIY contract for her affiliates, she lost more than $60,000… a mistake that could have been totally avoided with a proper contract!! 

Wanting to avoid this kind of nightmare with future launches, Amanda wisely sought legal advice. She booked a call with me, and I reviewed the contract for her.

The good news? I pinpointed the problem right away: the missing refund language. And I helped her with a new, complete, lawyer-drafted agreement. 

The bad news? Amanda had learned a very expensive lesson, losing lots of sleep and lots of money over it. 

Dear reader, this is why I am so passionate about what I do. This is why I talk about the importance of investing in legal protections from the start. 

⚡ Crystal clear refund policies. 

⚡ Crystal clear affiliate contracts. 

⚡ Crystal clear terms of use for the products & programs you sell…

These are absolutely necessary for you if you want to protect the money you work so hard to earn. 

Are you wondering if you have the right kinds of written agreements in place?  Head over to laynelyons.com to browse our contract templates. Our new search function makes it super easy to zero in on what you need. Just hover over Get Contracts, and choose your path forward! 

You can browse according to the type of business owner you are.

June 29, 2022 — Layne Lyons Pecoff
Overwhelmed With Legal For Your Small Business? Start Here

Overwhelmed With Legal For Your Small Business? Start Here

There are several reasons you might be tempted to continue running your business without proper legal protections in place. 
  • You don’t know where to start.
  • You don’t know what you need to protect now, and what can wait until later.
  • You assume it’s going to cost too much.
  • You’re happy to just swipe generic language from the internet.
  • You’ll worry about it later. 
  • Everything will probably be fine anyway, so why bother?

Does any of that sound familiar?

Here’s the thing, dear reader. Everything is always fine…until it isn’t. And the degree to which you leave your business exposed and vulnerable will dictate just how un-fine it will be. After serving clients for over 26 years as a small business and trademark attorney, I know firsthand that, eventually, most business owners’ luck will run out. It might be in the form of client drama, stolen content, or worst-case scenario legal issues, and it is never fun to clean up the mess after the damage has been done. 

Think about it. The best time to take care of the legal side of your business is when everything is bright, sunny, and calm. If you wait for the gray clouds and angry skies to roll in… you might find yourself in the middle of a legal thunderstorm, and you’re gonna have to do some serious clean-up afterward.

I hope you are finding yourself in a bright, sunshiny place right now, and I sincerely hope you’ll stay there forever!

But is it worth risking all that potential damage, just because you “hope” the weather won’t take a turn? 

I want to make it as easy as possible for you to get your business buttoned up nice and tight. Let’s finally cross LEGAL off your business to-do list! 

Just keep reading, and choose what best fits your current business situation:

If you…

Work With Clients: you must have a written Client 1:1 Agreement in place. This gets you both on the same page before you start working together. It creates clear boundaries around money, scope, and your shared content. With all of the housekeeping handled upfront, you can begin your working relationship with clarity, harmony, and immediate trust.

Sell Digital Products, Courses, or Group Programs: you need a written Terms of Use agreement. This sets up all the rules for the purchase of your group programs, digital downloads, online courses, evergreen products, and more. It covers the use of your content, payments, and more in any transaction when you have less direct communication between you and your customer.

Want to Hire a Team Member: you must use a written Contractor Service Agreement. This powerful agreement covers the scope of the working relationship, definitions of the nature of the relationship of the parties as Independent Contractors, Intellectual Property ownership provisions, confidentiality provisions, termination of the relationship, dispute resolution, and more.

Speak on Podcasts, Stages, or at Live Events: you need to use a Professional Speaker Agreement. It covers your entire agreement with the host, including whether and how you may make an offer from the stage, your requirements for audio-visual support, ownership of the Intellectual Property created at the event, cancellation by either party, coverage of expenses, and much more.

Want to save even more with a complete bundle to fit your needs??

Check out 3 of my core foundational bundles. From just-the-basics-ma’am for the beginner to the whole enchilada for course creators, I’ve got a bundle that’s perfect for every stage of business:

Just the Basics: #1 Priority Mini-Disclaimer Pack

For the entrepreneur who wants (or needs) to take baby steps, your Mini-Disclaimer tells people what you do, and more importantly, what you *don’t* do. It is the number one legal protection you must have in place to stay out of hot water! Post your official legal disclaimer on emails, your website, social channels, client handouts, and more.

Protect My Website : The Big 3 Website Protection Package

Protect your online real estate with the three essential agreements you must have before hitting publish on your website: your Privacy Policy, Terms & Conditions, and Website Disclaimer. Stay compliant with international privacy laws and keep your business safe.

Create & Launch My Course Legally : Course Creator Bundle

Everything you need to create, launch and sell your online course legally. This bundle includes the 7 key agreements you need to protect your content and your profits: Terms of Use, Testimonial Release, Privacy Policy, Terms & Conditions, Website Disclaimer, Contractor Service Agreement, and Affiliate Agreement. Launch your course with confidence and peace of mind!

Want the ultimate one-stop solution, a bundle with everything you need to build a strong legal foundation?

You need The Legal Umbrella™ Foundations Bundle.  

This suite of 10 extraordinarily protective, lawyer-drafted contract and agreement templates offers you the security to run a successful business with peace of mind that legal issues aren’t going to rain on your parade.

It includes ten essential contracts, many of which were listed above as à la carte options. Save big by grabbing the whole bundle today! 

  • Website Terms and Conditions
  • Website Privacy Policy
  • Website Disclaimer
  • #1 Priority Mini-Disclaimer and #1 Priority Mini-Mini-Disclaimer
  • Client Agreement 1:1 
  • Terms of Use for Group Programs/Digital Products/Online Courses
  • Extended Payment Plan
  • Credit Card Authorization Form
  • Testimonial Release
  • Live Event Publicity Release

Read more about how each template protects your business, and why each one is so essential: The Legal Umbrella™: Legal Foundations – Layne Lyons Inc 

I know it’s tempting to continue operating your business in a legal gray area. It can feel intimidating, overwhelming, and like a whole lotta work when everything is probably going to be fine anyway, right? Well…you already know how I feel about that 😉 

Trust me, it is not worth the risk to remain unprotected in your business, especially when you have the perfect solution right here, ready to use! 

Shop my easily-customizable, always-in-plain-English contracts now >> Get Contracts – Layne Lyons Inc 

Have questions about which contract or bundle is right for you? Just leave a comment, or reach out to team@laynelyons.com and my team will be happy to help! 

June 29, 2022 — Layne Lyons Pecoff
Be Like Taylor Swift

Be Like Taylor Swift

What do Coco Chanel, Sara Blakely, and Taylor Swift all have in common? Besides being amazingly talented and successful women, I mean? 

They all recognized the massive power of their brand and took swift action to protect it early on (pun intended). 

💎 Coco Chanel’s famous interlocking C design has stood the test of time as an immediately recognizable symbol of luxury and quality craftsmanship.

💎 Sara Blakely registered the brilliant product name Spanx mere hours after dreaming it up while sitting in Atlanta traffic and now presides over a billion-dollar company.

💎 Taylor Swift has dominated the music industry while also warding off lawsuits from various clothing companies, rival artists, and even a Utah theme park. 

When you have dreams of dominating your industry, it only makes sense to do everything you can to protect it. And when you do it right, you can sleep easy at night knowing your brand is buttoned up and secure. Do you think Taylor Swift lost a single minute of sleep when she heard she was being sued by a random amusement park? Not a chance! 

I see sooo many entrepreneurs who have great brands (including fabulous product names), but they aren’t protecting themselves, and it makes me really nervous for them.   

I’m especially looking at you, podcast hosts & online course creators!! 

Here’s the thing, you’ve researched your niche, come up with the best name for your product, course, or podcast, picked out the perfect font and brand colors, and you probably spent some of your hard earned cash working with graphic designers and branding experts. 

Now, you have your brand out there in the world ready to attract your dream clients. 

But, you might also be attracting folks who want to knock-off your brand or swipe your intellectual property.


Your brand is money in the bank and it needs to be protected.

Federal Trademark Registration is the ultimate, platinum standard you need to make sure your brand is secure.

Not only does it protect all the intellectual property you’ve worked so hard to create, but it massively increases the value of your brand in the eyes of future investors & collab partners. 

Plus, how cool will you feel once you can use that magical ® next to your brand name?? At least as cool as John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever.

via GIPHY

Sometimes, folks tell me that they plan to wait until they get bigger or have more sales to protect their brand, but actually, the time that you need protection the most is when you are starting out.At the beginning, you are the most vulnerable because you have fewer resources to defend your brand. So it's most important to get this piece handled from the outset.Learn more about all 6 areas of your business that need protecting: in the Peace of Mind Legal Foundations Mini-Workshop, I’ll lead you through a legal self-audit of your business’s current legal protections.Join the ranks of Coco, Sara, and Taylor and protect your brand today!Legally Yours,LaynePS: Not sure where to begin?? Go register for that free training I mentioned! You’ll walk away with the clarity you need to feel cool & calm about all things legal.
October 15, 2021 — Layne Lyons Pecoff
3 Quick Tips to Grow Your Biz

3 Quick Tips to Grow Your Biz

How are you ‘getting known’ to your clients?

If you’ve been in business for a while, you know that just building your website and posting on your social media doesn’t bring droves of dream clients knocking down your door. 

One of the main ways I’ve built my business by doing speaking events! 

Perhaps you even found out about me from one of my many podcast appearances or a talk I did at a summit with your favorite coach? 

I’m popping in today to share my top three tips I’ve learned from being on podcasts promoting my business, so you can get started promoting your business and attracting your dream clients. 

 

1: Make a list of where you want to speak and follow-up! 

Figure out whose podcasts your clients are listening to and where they are getting their information. I love asking my clients where they found me and what other podcasts they listen to because it gives me ideas for who to reach out to in the future. 

Next, pitch yourself and the topics you want to talk about. Remember to lead with value! Make it about the host, not you. 

Finally, follow-up. I don’t send one email and expect to hear back. I follow-up with hosts consistently to make sure they know I really want to be on their show. 

2: Prepare ahead of time! 

Make sure you know your talking points backwards and forwards. Be super clear on what you want to promote. I have a one page note sheet that I use when I’m doing my interviews that has the stories I want to share, a bit about the podcast and my other key messages. 

I also make sure that I set myself up for success by freeing my schedule up before the interview. This way I’m not rushing around, trying to tie up loose ends right before I speak. 

3: Make sure you're protected!

You have awesome information to share that you’ve worked hard to create! Make sure that you protect yourself. You need an agreement that addresses the ownership rights to your recording, the conditions of you making a sales offer to their audience, any promotions or additional benefits you will get from your appearance and much more.

Start getting visible ASAP, but first, make sure to do it right with your Legal Umbrella up! As an add-on to my signature package, The Legal Umbrella™, I also have all the contracts you need for speaking. I've got you covered whether you are the Speaker or the Host.

Click here for your Professional Speaker Agreement. This document protects you when you speak on podcasts, stages, at live events, on summits, etc. It includes detailed provisions on making an offer from the stage, your requirements for audio-visual support, ownership of the intellectual property created at the event, cancellation by either party, coverage of expenses and much more. Make sure you get it signed before you speak at any event.

Click here for your Guest Expert Speaker Agreement. This document protects you when you host experts on your podcast, summit, at your live event, etc. It includes detailed provisions on speaker and host obligations, promotional benefits and requirements, ownership of the intellectual property created at the event and much more. Make sure you get it signed before creating any recordings of your guest expert speakers.

With your contracts in place, you can be free to share your expertise without the fear that someone might swipe your content, use something you say in the wrong way or have misaligned expectations about the who ultimately owns the recording.

While I can’t promise that the speaking on stage “butterflies” will ever go away, I can say that being on podcasts and summits is a really great way to get in front of your dream clients. 🤩 I’ve noticed in my own business and heard from my clients that having these agreements in place has opened the door for more joint venture opportunities and paid speaking engagements.

Now I have to know—What’s your favorite podcast? Hit ‘reply’ and tell me!

Legally yours,

Layne

October 14, 2021 — Layne Lyons Pecoff