How Much Do You Love Your Brand?

How Much Do You Love Your Brand?

It’s February, and that means the season of love is upon us! Whether you’re making googly eyes at your significant other, planning a Galentine’s bash with your besties, or ignoring the holiday altogether, the hype around Valentine’s Day got me thinking: 

 

How much do you LOVE your brand? 

💖 Do you get a big smile on your face when the name of your business rolls off your tongue? 

💖 Can you remember how you felt the exact moment when you knew you’d landed on THE ONE??

💖 Would you be left in tears, absolutely broken-hearted if someone told you that name was now off limits, that you could never be associated with it again?

 

If you answered yes to any of the above regarding your brand name, program name, podcast name, logo, etc… you need to run, not walk, to your initial trademark consultation.

 

I’ll be perfectly honest – not every entrepreneur is there yet. You might not be there yet. If you still feel kinda “meh” about your name, you probably don’t need a trademark. 

If you’ve been stuck in an endless cycle of brainstorming, but you haven’t quite landed on something you’re in love with yet, you probably don’t need a trademark. 

But trust me, you’ll get there one day, and when you do, I’ll be here ready and able to help! 

There is nothing that breaks my heart more than telling a client she has to go back to the drawing board with her brand name or logo. 

It’s a devastating blow, and it’s one that can become even worse when someone invests so much time and money into growing a brand they don’t actually own yet…

I’ve had clients spend thousands of dollars on brand development, product creation, website building, podcast production…all to find out they have to start from scratch with a new name, crossing all the fingers and toes their audience follows them. 

It’s the absolute worst news I have to deliver, and it’s why I’m so passionate about making sure we head off that disaster anytime we can by being proactive with brand protection.

Bottom line? If you’re in love with your brand, or even feeling those first butterflies-in-the-stomach, I-think-this-might-be-it jitters, reach out for a trademark consultation. 

It’s better to lock it down now than always pine for the one that got away. 

 

Schedule your consult here → Book A Trademark Consult

February 01, 2024 — Layne Lyons Pecoff
This one legal move could land you a dream client 🤩

This one legal move could land you a dream client 🤩

Big things are happening here at Team Layne Lyons! I had the pleasure of hiring a couple of new team members this past summer. I’m sure you can appreciate how daunting the hiring process can be, but it’s also super exciting. 

As I reviewed loads of applications and portfolios provided by so many talented women, I knew I had to start narrowing my list. After all, I simply couldn’t conduct individual interviews with dozens of applicants. 

One thing became clear, almost subconsciously at first: 

The applicants who ran their business as an LLC stood out from the pack. My attention was immediately drawn to them, and when I noticed this, I started to reflect on why. 

Here’s what I landed on. Keep in mind, this is not scientific or psychologically proven at all… it’s simply how my mind worked as a business owner looking to hire a couple of independent contractors.

1 - Anyone with an LLC already in place showed me that they take their business seriously and plan to go places with it. It’s not just a side hustle or a hobby. Rather, they view it as a real career. 🚀

2 - It showed me that they care about conducting business in a safe, legal and professional manner. 🙌

3 - By obtaining their LLC, they’ve proven that they are resourceful, attentive to detail and have the ability to follow through on a not-always-straightforward process. 🤓

 

Again, these are simply my impressions as an entrepreneur looking to hire other entrepreneurs to work on my team. I also considered plenty of other factors, but I thought this little glimpse into my hiring process might help some of you land a future client.

If you’ve been pondering the question of should I or shouldn’t I when it comes to establishing your business as an LLC, perhaps this is the little nudge you need. 

Are you wondering what the heck is an LLC, and why would I need it?? You’re in luck! 

I’ve written an article on how LLCs work and how to figure out if you need one. Check it out for all the details: Is It Time for an LLC? Ask Yourself 4 Simple Questions

Already convinced? 

Team Layne Lyons can help! Simply comment below, or email team@laynelyons.com, and we will connect you with dedicated pros who can help you complete the process. 

Already have your LLC? Kudos to you! If you’re curious about your next legal move, I’d love to chat with you about it. Comment here or email layne@laynelyons.com

 

Hats off to all of you business-building pros out there - you’re doing amazing! 

January 23, 2024 — Layne Lyons Pecoff
Time to Get Your Legal House In Order

Time to Get Your Legal House In Order

Welcome to 2024!! It’s a new year, full of new plans, hopes, and ambitions. 

After a wonderfully relaxing holiday break, I’m ready to hit the ground running to chase some big dreams and goals this year. How about you?

A common goal this time of year is to spend time decluttering and cleaning our homes. As we pack away holiday decorations and find space for the new gifts we receive, many of us take stock of what we have. 

We attempt to bring order to our homes so we can enter the new year with clarity, a fresh perspective, and a sense of order. 

I’d like to suggest that your business deserves the same care and attention. 

Now is a great time to get your business’s house in order, to make sure you have all the proper protections in place. 

Is your content safe from swipers? 

Is your brand name truly your own?

Are your payment policies clear and easy to communicate?

Will your clients understand and respect your boundaries?

I’d love to help you start 2024 off with a solid legal foundation. Here are some easy steps you can take today: 

✅ Download and complete this Intellectual Property Inventory. It will walk you through all the valuable assets that belong to your business and help you identify how to protect them.

✅ Complete the 6-Point Profit & Protection System: a training that will show you the six key areas you need to protect in your business so you can grow & scale safely and confidently.

✅ Book a free consultation call with me. During your Rainy Day Readiness chat, I’ll get to know you and your business and will offer actionable advice for how you can get all the legal stuff buttoned up for the new year. 

"Before I worked with Layne, legal protection felt confusing and challenging. I often brushed it off because it felt expensive and lengthy to personalize, yet I really didn’t want to rely on general protections. Layne nailed it! … Now I feel much more protected and even more professional, like I have up-leveled my business! Taking the steps to protect myself and my clients feels like true business growth. And, it was so easy ... I am forever grateful to Layne for making me feel so secure in my biz!"

~Brandi Mackenzie 

Let’s make 2024 the year you truly reach peace of mind with the legal side of your business!

https://www.laynelyons.com/the-legal-umbrella

January 02, 2024 — Layne Lyons Pecoff
Your Key to Avoiding Legal Disaster ☂️☂️☂️

Your Key to Avoiding Legal Disaster ☂️☂️☂️

Have you ever gotten caught in a downpour…stuck without your trusty umbrella to keep you protected??

We’ve all been there at some point or another. Sometimes, it’s a minor annoyance. We sigh to ourselves and vow to check the weather apps before going out again, but usually, it’s not a big deal.

Other times, we can even turn our drizzly frowns upside down, transforming the unexpected downpour into a positive experience. Stomp some puddles, create some funny memories, look into the sky and see a fabulous rainbow.

But then…there are other times when the situation becomes much more dire. 

Say, for instance, you’re walking to an important interview for the job of your dreams. Now those soggy pant legs, muddy heels, and rain-slicked hair have the potential to wreak havoc on your hopes and plans for the future. 

Your confidence is shaken. 

Your meticulously prepared resume is splotchy and barely readable. 

You’re on the verge of tears, but suck it up knowing puffy red eyes will only make things worse…

Dear reader, we must avoid this last, worst-case scenario AT ALL COSTS!!

When the stakes are that high, we have to take ALL the precautions. We assemble an emergency prep kit:

Leave an hour early? ✅

Grab the hair & makeup supplies for emergency touch-ups? ✅

Print a half dozen extra copies of your resume? ✅

Throw a change of clothes into the car? ✅

Gather your rain gear, especially the umbrella? ✅

Will you need all these items and all that spare time? Hopefully not. But if you do, and you’re caught unprepared… YIKES.

Leaving your business exposed to the elements, without your Legal Umbrella up, is like tempting fate. 

The stakes are simply too high to continue without solid legal protections. 

It’s time for a quick checkup: 

Can you honestly answer a resounding “YES!” to these U.M.B.R.E.L.L.A. questions? 

👉  Is all of your Unique content safely protected from dishonest copycats who missed the lesson in high school about plagiarism? And if someone does steal your stuff, are you confident you can legally make them take it down?

👉 Do you have clear policies and systems to prevent chargebacks, ghosted payments, or refund requests? In other words, are you doing all you can to protect your Money??

👉 Are you 100% confident that your Brand name and/or logo isn’t infringing on someone else’s trademark? That it isn’t just a tad too close to a competitor’s name? (Hint: No, you can’t legally call your program “The Digital Courses Academy” to get around Amy Porterfield’s Digital Course Academy trademark)  And, on the flip side, are you sure no one else is riding your coattails, promoting their program with a way-too-similar name to yours?? If you have a huge following under the brand name The Happy Healthy Housewife, are you sure there aren’t any copycats using the name The Healthy Happy Housewife??

👉 Do you have clear boundaries in all your working Relationships? Do your clients know what they can expect when working with you? For example, do they know when they can (and cannot) expect to hear from you? Do they know what process to follow if they want to stop working with you? If you offer done-for-you services, do you have a clear scope of work and timeline for delivery, so everyone knows who should do what, and when? 

👉 Does your online empire, including your website, emails and social media platforms, have all the proper notices, policies, and disclaimers posted? Your entire E-presence needs to be protected with clear terms of use, privacy policies, and disclaimers about what you can and cannot do (ex: coaches are there to support clients in reaching their goals, but clients are responsible for all results).

👉 Is your Love-Life-Attitude protected? Do you feel free to set your own hours, work on your own terms, work with who you want, and do the tasks that light you up? Is your business set up in a way that is drama-proofed?

Dear friend, if you are hesitant to answer any of those questions in the affirmative, it’s time to batten down the hatches! 

First the bad news. 😱

Your business is currently vulnerable to potentially devastating, business-dream-ending storms that can crop up without warning.

Now the GOOD NEWS!! 🙌

The fix is easy: you simply need your trusty Legal UMBRELLA™ to keep your business dry in even the wildest of storms. 

My signature suite of 10 lawyer-drafted, solid legal agreements will secure and cover each and every corner of your legal foundation. 

From client service agreements to payment policies, content protection to website security, and everything in-between, the Legal UMBRELLA™ package has you covered, to get your business buttoned up and legally compliant.  

Head here to purchase this package of industry-specific, fully customizable, easy-to-understand set of 10 foundational legal agreements → The Legal Umbrella 

Not sure this is what you need? Book a free Rainy Day Readiness Call with me, and we’ll get it figured out in no time! 

Together, let’s make 2024 the year you never leave home without your trusty UMBRELLA ☂️☂️☂️☂️

December 04, 2023 — Layne Lyons Pecoff
Just Google It = Worst.Advice.Ever.

Just Google It = Worst.Advice.Ever.

Google is one of those quintessential double-edged swords in our rapidly-evolving digital age. On the one hand, we have a world of information at our fingertips! On the other hand… we have a world of information at our fingertips…

Just the other day, I got curious and googled “what contracts do I need for my online business”? Even knowing ALL the things about this topic, I felt overwhelmed by the results! 

 

First of all, the ads. So many ads!! 

  • Ads for CRMs like Honeybook that offer contract templates…
  • Ads for Big Box Legal (side note: try searching “Legal Zoom horror stories”…that’s a terrifying rabbit hole!)
  • Ads for online document signing tools…

Then came the blogs. 

  • Essential Contracts Your Small Business Needs
  • Contracts You Need For Your Online Coaching Business
  • 6 Essential Contracts For Your Startup…

 

 

How do you know which to choose??

Am I a small business? An online coaching business? A startup? Do I need the contracts for a small and growing business? Or will the brand new business contracts do the trick? 

At this point, I was too overwhelmed to click on the Videos tab. I can only imagine the endless amount of content on Youtube.

I sat at my desk, imagining myself in my potential client’s shoes. In your shoes. 

How could you possibly know where to begin? Even if you narrow it down to the type of contract you need for your particular kind of business, which of these 1,842,975 websites is legit? Which is going to get you legally-sound, easy-to-use contracts that actually protect you in all the ways you need?

This is why I am such an advocate of NOT DIY’ing your legal. 

There’s a lot of stuff you can google and get away with early on in business – play around in Canva yourself until you can afford a graphic designer. One lopsided IG square isn’t going to make or break your business! Write your own content and follow some templates until you can outsource your copy to a professional. Whip out your calculator and crunch your own numbers until it makes sense to find a bookkeeper. 

But your LEGAL STUFF?? All those behind-the-scenes agreements that keep you safe from unreasonable clients, wild refund requests, dishonest brand swipers, and other bad actors? 

You can’t responsibly DIY that stuff. 

 

So what should you do? 

My advice is this: find a lawyer you trust – someone who has worked with lots and lots of businesses like yours. You’re one of my subscribers, so it’s safe to assume I’ve earned at least some of your trust. Contracts for online businesses, service providers, coaches, podcasters, course creators… 100%, totally my JAM, and I’m passionate about serving entrepreneurs like you.

Of course, there are other lawyers who have contract templates for businesses like yours, and you are obviously free to use their products! I know several who create some really high-quality work. 

Once you settle on a lawyer you trust (hi, is it me you’re looking for?), it’s just a matter of doing the dang thing, right? Presumably, this lawyer you trust has put out plenty of educational content to help you make an informed decision. Read up! Consume their free content. If necessary and available, reach out personally with a question. Any legit lawyer will be happy to answer your questions (within limits, of course) so you can make the best choice for your needs.

And then click that BUY button. The only truly wrong decision you can make here is to make no decision at all, continuing to float in legal limbo for the foreseeable future.

Get the contracts you need now, so you can start growing, sharing and scaling from a place of freedom and peace of mind, knowing you have solid protections in place to keep you out of legal hot water.

 

Here are some of my resources you can dive into to get familiar with how my legal templates can work for you: 

Read this article if you're not sure where to get started.

Discover The Legal Umbrella® method – all the foundational contracts you need to build your business. 

Browse contracts for business owners who don’t have the basics yet. 

Browse contracts to business owners who are ready to scale.

 

Still have questions? Reach out to layne@laynelyons.com, and we will be happy to help!

Now, step away from Google, and start taking some action to button up your legal 🙂

November 27, 2023 — Layne Lyons Pecoff
Why Every Entrepreneur Needs a Website Legal Disclaimer

Why Every Entrepreneur Needs a Website Legal Disclaimer

Today I have a quick legal tip to help you keep the drama away. That’s our motto this year, right? 

Drama-free in 2024!

Alright, let’s dive in with two quick questions:

  1. Do you have a website?
  2. Do you currently have a Website Disclaimer published on it?

If you answered yes to both, YAY!! 🎉🎉🎉

I’m so proud of you for having this key legal component already. I suggest taking a quick peek to make sure everything is clear and up to date. 

If you answered yes to #1 but no (or I’m not sure?) to #2, then this part’s for you!

 

What is a Website Disclaimer? 

Good question! People toss around the word disclaimer often but aren’t always clear on what it actually means. 

Let me explain with a simple example. You and I walk into your living room and see a giant grape juice stain on the new white rug. 😱

Your first question is Who spilled this? 

I can either say: me, I spilled it, I take responsibility, aka, I CLAIM responsibility.

Or, I can say: it wasn’t me, I didn’t spill it, I DISCLAIM responsibility. 

In your business, whenever you teach anything, give advice, share tips on social media or via email, you are making yourself vulnerable to someone using that advice, getting a negative outcome, and then coming back to blame you. 

Having a DISCLAIMER lets people know that you are not legally responsible for the actions your clients and website visitors take, and that you can’t be blamed if someone applies (or misapplies) information from you or your website. 

Basically, it puts your website visitors and clients on notice that they are responsible for their own actions, and it’s up to them to determine whether your information is applicable to them or not. 

 

Who needs one? 

Anyone doing business who has a website. Yes, really!

 

Can you give me an example? 

Of course! Your disclaimer is like a very important asterisk declaring something like: 

*I am not a medical professional

*Working with me is not a guarantee of results or future earnings

*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. 

 

How does this disclaimer protect me?

Your disclaimer tells people what you DO, and more importantly, what you DON’T do. It defines what capacity you’re working in, and what capacity you are NOT working in. A good disclaimer should clearly outline whether you are a licensed professional or not (aka, a health coach ≠ a doctor, therefore cannot provide medical advice). 

It differentiates between professional advice and education. The legal tips I share here and on social media? They are for education NOT legal advice. 

Anyone who works in the wellness industry definitely needs to state that they are not qualified to diagnose, treat, heal or cure any illness or disorder. 

If you do any mindset work with your clients, it’s vital that you are crystal clear that you’re not a licensed therapist or counselor. That way, they understand that you are not providing mental health services

If you provide marketing advice or services, you need to explicitly state that your work and/or information is not a guarantee of future earnings. 

The key piece to this is that, when you are protected with a solid legal disclaimer, you can feel free to show up online with confidence. You know that the things you say, share and put out into the world aren’t going to be used against you in a negative way. And if someone tries…well, you have a rock solid legal foundation to quickly and easily handle it, sans any drama or fear. 

 

What if I don’t have a disclaimer yet?

Don’t panic! But do take action ASAP so you don’t get yourself into any legal hot water. 

You can grab my customizable template here, or better yet, you can grab the Legal Foundations Bundle and save yourself loads of $$ and headaches! It includes 10 foundational agreements you need to keep your business protected, including a 1:1 client agreement, testimonial release, and more.  

November 20, 2023 — Layne Lyons Pecoff
Living Your Passion 😍

Living Your Passion 😍

Do you ever see a cool new resource somewhere online, enter your name and email, and then a few months later, realize you have no idea who is really behind the emails you've been receiving each week? 

Guilty! 🙋♀️

The online business world is jam-packed with so many AH-mazing free resources, it can be easy to go on a freebie-collecting spree. 

Maybe that’s how you wound up on my email list. If so, welcome! If you landed here some other way, also welcome!

I hope you’ve gotten value out of my resources up until now, but I have one nagging little concern…

I’m worried you don’t really know me. That I’m just another anonymous online-preneur filling your inbox with legal tips you’re not sure you’ll ever use. That you aren’t sure I’m really here to help you as best I can (spoiler: I am!) 

Truth be told, that makes me a little sad. 

Because I really, truly care about each and every person I encounter on this wild business-building ride. I want to get to know you, your business, your passions, your WHY. 

That’s why I’m going to break the ice first. So here goes! 

Hi! I’m Layne!!

No alt text provided for this image

Adventure-loving digital nomad (currently on the Big Island in Hawaii!), partner to my husband of 20 years Grant (an uber-talented artist), & business and trademark attorney for women entrepreneurs.

But wait, hear me out — and this is important!! — I am NOT “that” kind of lawyer. Trust me, in my 26+ years as a practicing lawyer, I’ve been around more than my fair share of that type.

You know the ones. Grumpy demeanor punctuated with gruff, pointed questions. Slightly (or totally) condescending tone when “explaining” legal stuff to laypeople. Monotone wardrobe of generic navy and grey pinstripe “professional” suits. Always seated behind big, imposing desks. 

No thank you!

I left behind the “traditional” world of litigation and law offices long ago, striking out on my own to follow my passions. 

And so, for the past 20 years, my husband and I have hopped all around the world, living the nomad life, mostly internationally, mostly on tropical islands, living life vibrantly and fully. 

I founded Layne Lyons Legal, a boutique law firm all my own, true to my personality and sense of purpose. Everything I do today is centered around one singular mission: to help women entrepreneurs put solid legal foundations in place so they can grow and scale confidently and without fear!

I want each and every one of you to never fear: 

  • Sending a less-than-professional contract to a new client, causing them to judge you (or worse, back out!)
  • Having your online course swiped and duplicated, without any recourse to stop it
  • Realizing a client never made payments on their payment plan and having to get into drama with them, just to collect money that is yours
  • Hiring a less-than-honest (or less-than-competent) contractor without clear protocols for ending the relationship
  • Private clients or group program members encroaching on your boundaries, to the point that you’re spread too thin because you’re way over-delivering
  • The threat of a lawsuit, any lawsuit, because of a legal gap you’ve allowed to linger

THIS is my passion. 

What’s yours? 

If I had to wager a bet, I would guess that your business is based in large part on that passion. And if that’s true, you have found yourself in the right place. Welcome to my little corner of the internet, where you’ll find support for your passion-led business, where I’ll make legal stuff less overwhelming and (dare I say?) FUN!

Legal stuff is serious business, it’s true. But I believe wholeheartedly that when you are empowered to build and fully understand your legal foundation — when you know your business is buttoned up and legally protected…

  • You show up with more confidence
  • You say YES! to more opportunities
  • You feel true peace of mind & security
  • You become free to grow by leaps and bounds! 

Stick with me, dear reader, and I promise to send you loads of value. I regularly offer bite-sized,  easy-to-immediately-apply legal tips; stuffy lawyer jargon explained with ease; funny anecdotes from life on the Big Island; and, of course, lots of GIFs. You can find all of this good stuff right here on LinkedIn, on Instagram, Facebook, or personally delivered straight to your inbox

Comment below and let me know a little bit about you! Tell me what lights you up, tell me about the WHY behind your business. This kind of stuff is why I am here, so share away! 

PS: If you’d like to hear a little more of my backstory, head here to check out my full bio!

October 24, 2023 — Layne Lyons Pecoff
Quick, check your contracts for this super important clause!

Quick, check your contracts for this super important clause!

You know I love a good, solid contract — but did you know that up until this darn pandemic struck, many contracts were missing one very important piece?

Yep. It was a little piece that we in the legal world once thought didn’t really apply to online businesses. But 2020 and its ensuing chaos taught us differently…

I’m talking about the FORCE MAJEURE.

Today I’m going to explain what the heck that means, why it’s soooo important these days, and (bonus!) I’m going to give you the language to add to your contracts right now, for free!

 First, how do you even pronounce Force Majeure?  [FARWS] + [MA] + [ZHUR].  It’s French, so feel free to get a little fancy 💫

 Now, let's get down to business…what is Force Majeure and why do we need it? In French, it translates to “greater force,” and it basically refers to an act of God. As in, a force greater than we could anticipate or overcome. 

In the legal world, Force Majeure is a clause in a contract that allows parties to be excused from performance due to unforeseen circumstances. 

 Force Majeure is kind of like your “get out of jail free” card to use when events happen that are out of your control. Examples include acts of nature such as hurricanes and floods, and acts of people such as riots, strikes and wars. 

Add to that list government lock-downs, travel suspensions and other unexpected restrictions from a global pandemic. 😷

 When you can’t complete your promises under a contract because of an interruption that is totally out of your control, a Force Majeure clause in your contract will release you from the obligation.  

Sounds pretty important, right? So why did so many pre-covid contracts fail to include this clause?

Basically, it was the conventional belief among us lawyers that Force Majeure clauses weren’t really needed for online work. In theory, online work is flexible enough that you could still complete your obligations in spite of outside challenges. 

Covid smashed that theory into pieces pretty quickly. 💥

Now, all of my contracts include a Force Majeure clause as a standard, and because you know I’m committed to making sure your business is buttoned up and tight as a drum, I’m going to give you your very own version for free.

First, open up your current agreements and scan them for your Force Majeure. Do you see one? (spoiler alert: if you’re using one of my templates from the past two years, it’s there!)

If it’s already there, yay!! Now you know a little more about why it’s there and when you may need to use it.

Not there? 

Good news! You can add your Force Majeure clause to any new contract going forward.  If you are using one of my older contract templates, then just copy the paragraph below and insert it towards the bottom, just above the GOVERNANCE section.

In case your contract is missing this very important clause, here’s my gift to you: 

Your brand new, super-powerful Force Majeure clause → 

 FORCE MAJEURE.

<Insert your Company name here> shall not be liable for any costs or damages due to delay or nonperformance of this Agreement due to a Force Majeure, including acts of God, acts of people, government-imposed restrictions and safety measures, quarantines, travel suspensions, and any other event beyond <insert your Company name here>’s control, whether foreseen or unforeseen.   

That’s it! Now, should you ever need to terminate an agreement for qualifying reasons, you can do so with peace of mind knowing you are legally within your right to do so. 

 If you need my help updating your contracts, or if you have any questions about Force Majeure, just comment here or shoot an email to team@laynelyons.com. We are always happy to help!

  PS - Need some of your very own top-notch contract templates, expertly drafted by yours truly? Check out my contract kits at The Legal Umbrella™ for all the details! 

September 04, 2023 — Layne Lyons Pecoff
registered trademark image on a desk

Legal Umbrella®👈👀… Notice Anything Different About Me?

Are you ready for some FABULOUS news??? I have some for you, along with some sage advice (and maybe a little tough love) for you as you continue to grow your business. 

First the fabulous news….

My second trademark, Legal Umbrella®, has been successfully registered!!! 🎉🎉🎉 

Yup, this month I received my second shiny gold seal certificate from the United States Patent and Trademark Office granting me official ownership of the name Legal Umbrella® (swoon). You might be thinking... wait, I've seen her trademark before.. you're right. My first trademark was for THE Legal Umbrella, and now we're streamlining and expanding our protection even more.

We are all celebrating here at Team Layne Lyons. The disco ball and dancing tunes have been going non-stop! 💃  

This was a hard-won victory, and now that I know the trademark belongs to me, I feel relieved and very excited for the future.  

Now my team and I have the thrilling (but oh so arduous task) of changing every. single. mention. of ™ to ®.  We are editing every page on my website, all of my marketing materials, every contract in my shop, all of it. And every time I see that sexy little ®, I get goosies all over again. 

I did it!!

Now, on to the tough love and a bit of a confession.

You see, I waited too long to apply for my trademark. By the time I applied, I was already using it everywhere. I had a whole program fully built out, with years of visibility and a big following. I was using the name EVERYWHERE. People were coming to my business saying “I need that umbrella thing you have.”  

Seriously, more people knew me as the umbrella lawyer than as Layne Lyons. Thank heavens I was able to successfully register my trademark.  But can you imagine if I hadn’t been successful? 😱😭

I would have been forced to take EVERYTHING down, cry a whole lotta tears, change all of my branding, rename all of my programs, start all over again, and hope against hope that some of my audience would follow me to the new name. It could have been a total disaster. 

And for the whole 16 months that it took my trademark application to make it from start to finish, I was biting my nails and silently begging the trademark gods to make it work out okay. 

Nobody needs that kind of stress!

So, my advice to you, now that I am on the other side of this exciting and majestic achievement, is this: 

Don’t wait to secure your trademark until you have already built your whole brand on your name.  

Get in early. Did you know that you can actually trademark your name BEFORE you even start using it? I call that new product line, I will be filing for the trademark before I put it out into the world.

What’s your trademark?  Are you already using it? Is it high time to protect it? 

You may be hesitant to move forward, like many of my clients were. There are a lot of misconceptions out there. People think they aren’t ready yet, that they can DIY it or use a cheap big box legal service, or that it’s too expensive or complicated to deal with now.

They don’t realize how much legal strategy is actually involved to take a trademark application from start to finish (there’s a TON!). They don’t realize the potential for road blocks along the way, like misfiling in the wrong category or getting scary-sounding office actions. They don’t see the value of having a qualified, tenacious lawyer in their corner, ready to guide them through the entire process and handle it ALL for them. 

The hard truth is, you do not want to be the receiver of the bad news that I unfortunately have to deliver to some clients. The heartbreak, stress and even panic that comes with being told your name is no longer yours, that you have to change EVERYTHING… 

Whew. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. 

If you have a brand you actively market, earn money from and love to pieces, you absolutely must trademark the name. I am so relieved that I can continue making a name for myself as the “umbrella lawyer”, and I want you to feel the same way.

Is it a significant business investment? Yes.

Does it seem a bit daunting right now? Probably yes.

Is it worth it to hold that beautiful, shiny gold seal in your hands? ABSOLUTELY YES!!

Let’s get the ball rolling on your trademark. All it takes is booking a consultation with me right here: Book My Trademark Consult.

On our call, we will talk about your specific business set up and your future plans and goals to identify the trademarks and brand assets in your business that need protection. Then, I’ll go over the trademarking process with you, in plain English. And of course, I’ll answer all of your questions so that you feel clear and confident.

You’ll leave the call feeling clear as to whether pursuing your trademark registration is the best next step for your business. And if you want to move ahead, we will talk about what it looks like to work with my law firm.

If you would like more info before booking, or you want to do a little homework before our call, you can read all about trademarks right here: The Legal Umbrella® Trademark Services.

I can’t wait to chat with you about this ultimate, next-level protection!! You are going to feel so much peace of mind, just like I do now, knowing that your brand is really, truly, yours.

PS: Here’s what one of my fabulous clients had to say about working with me to get her trademark: 

“Before I worked with Layne, I couldn’t have told you the difference between a ® and a ™ symbol, and I certainly could not have told you how it could benefit my business to trademark it. But Layne explained everything to me in terms that I could get, she is so practical in her explanations of the legal “stuff.” After talking to Layne I felt confident in what I needed to do. And when I decided to pursue a trademark, she kept me informed every step of the way. Now I am excited to know that the business I have been working so hard for (and the name I adore for it) will not be at risk of my having to take it all down and start over. You can’t put a price on that kind of peace of mind!”

— Megan, founder of FORK THE FOOD RULES®

July 03, 2023 — Layne Lyons Pecoff
What To Do When a Client Doesn't Pay

What To Do When a Client Doesn't Pay

What happens when someone refuses to pay you money you are owed? Will you get paid? Will you have to walk away? Is it worth taking legal action? It’s going to depend on your written agreement with this person.

🚨Don’t have written agreements in your business? Yikes!! Do not pass go, do not collect $200, go straight to this article to find the protections you need ASAP: Overwhelmed With Legal? Start Here. 

Okay, back to our regularly scheduled content: 

Let’s consider a hypothetical situation. 

Mary is a VA who bills her client at the end of every month. She works 10 hours per week at a rate of $30/hour. This month, Mary’s $1200 invoice goes unpaid. She stops work per her contract, sends multiple reminders, and she gets nothing but crickets. 

Uh oh. 

Mary realizes it’s time to try something different. So she remembers the advice given to her by a friendly lawyer (it was me!), and she takes a screenshot of her contract clause about payments, plus a screenshot of where her client signed and agreed to her terms. 

She also takes a screenshot of a very important piece of her contract, one that just might get her paid: The Arbitration Clause.

She sends these off, along with one final, firmly worded email. It said something like: 

Dear Client,

This is your final notice that you owe me $1200 for work completed during the month of X. You have violated our contract terms by failing to pay the invoice. Please see the payment terms here: (screenshots, aka, the receipts).

Since I have not received a response from you and the payment is now XX days past due, I will be requesting arbitration, per the terms of our contract: (screenshots/receipts go here). 

The arbitration fee will be $650. The company will contact you to set up our virtual hearing. Should they conclude that you are in the wrong, you will owe $1200 + $650 to cover the fees for arbitration. 

I will be contacting the arbitration company in X days if I do not receive payment on my outstanding $1200 invoice. 

Sincerely,

Mary

🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥

Short, sweet, and to the point, with all the necessary receipts. Now, in my experience, it is a rare delinquent client who will opt for arbitration. 9 times out of 10, that invoice will be paid. 

But what if it’s not??? 

In cases like this, I recommend using an arbitration company. My go-to is FairClaims.com. They charge a flat $650 fee, so if you have an unpaid invoice worth more than that, it’s often worth pursuing. Especially if you are confident you are in the right according to your written contract. 

An arbitrator will set up a meeting. You will present your evidence, aka your signed contract and any invoices/receipts, and they will issue a decision. 

If all your legal ducks are in a row, you get paid, your client is on the hook for the arbitration bill (and hopefully learns a very valuable lesson - you gotta pay your people!). And you? You move on with your drama-free business. 

Bottom line? Your written contract is your best line of defense against ghosted payments and unpaid invoices. And, it must include an arbitration clause!!

Check your contract right now and see if it has this important section included. If not, you need to add one. 

Here’s some language you can use, for free!, if needed*: 

DISPUTE RESOLUTION.

Should any dispute arise between Client and Company, it would be preferable to work it out amicably, but if that is not possible, Client acknowledges and agrees that the dispute will be resolved by FairClaims.com.  Client agrees to participate in the arbitration process in good faith, and further agrees that the decision made by the Arbitrator is binding, not subject to appeal, and enforceable in any court of competent jurisdiction as a judgment of law.  

As I mentioned before, should you need to enter arbitration for a dispute, I highly recommend FairClaims - not only is their fee reasonable, the process is smooth and easy to navigate. Their tagline is Be Heard. Resolve. Move On. My kind of people! 

I hope this was helpful for you, and while I hope you never have to worry about shifty clients and unpaid invoices, if you do, now you can handle it with ease and the least amount of drama possible. 

Tell me: did your contract have an arbitration clause already, or will you be adding one? Hit reply and let me know! 

PS: Shop all the super protective legal contracts you need for your business at LayneLyons.com

*Quick reminder, this sample contract language is not legal advice, it's education and information for you to use as you grow your business. 

May 31, 2023 — Layne Lyons Pecoff
Hire the help you need NOW (without getting burned)

Hire the help you need NOW (without getting burned)

Tell me if this sounds familiar in your business: 

Ugh I just wish I could clone myself!

There are not enough hours in the day!

I just don’t have time to do it all!!!

And yet, too many of us drag our feet when it comes to hiring help.

😖 We aren’t sure which tasks to outsource

😩 We worry about finding the “right” person

😨 We stress about trusting someone else in our business

😳 We are afraid our “people pleasing” tendencies will keep us from being assertive or clear about our expectations

🤢 We get a little queasy thinking about having to fire someone

So we scan those #JobOpp threads in our entrepreneur groups. Scroll through a dozen LinkedIn profiles. Type up a job description and then revise it over and over again, never actually posting it. 

And then we continue scrambling to keep all our plates in the air. All alone. Wearing our “one-woman-show” badge as we dream about sipping smoothies on the beach.

What if I told you that one small but mighty piece of paper could help?? 

One piece of paper that creates an airtight, super clear, ultra-protective understanding between you and your new contractor??

It’s called The Legal Umbrella® Contractor Service Agreement, and you can download it right now!

This written hiring contract gives you all the confidence you need to hire safely, to communicate your expectations clearly, and to trust that you are fully protected every step of the way. 

This agreement is perfect for any online-based entrepreneur who needs to hire an independent contractor (like a VA, graphic designer, social media manager, etc). It covers all your bases:

  • What your contractor will and will not be doing for you (scope of work)
  • Clear definition of the nature of the Independent Contractor (not employee!) relationship
  • Who owns what — intellectual property/content ownership provisions
  • Confidentiality boundaries 
  • Drama-free termination guidelines should either party need to end the relationship
  • Dispute resolution for those just-in-case situations

All of these important pieces establish clear boundaries, expectations and guidelines for your working relationship. 

If there is ever a question or dispute, you can simply refer back to your contract to find your drama-free answer. 

**IMPORTANT NOTE: If your new contractor will have access to any sensitive information inside your business (such as your client lists, financial information or your trade secrets), you need a different version of this agreement called the Contractor Engagement Agreement template. 

This contract is similar in many ways to the one above except it has much more robust confidentiality provisions. It keeps all of your secret info safe and protected! 

This version includes a built-in NDA (non-disclosure agreement), Non-Compete, and Non-Solicit. Use this one when bringing on anyone in the inner circle in your business - like an executive assistant, OBM, sales rep, or other person who’ll have access to confidential information in your business. 

Get the Ultra-Protective Contractor Engagement Agreement Now

Whichever version you need, make sure that before you start talking with potential contractors, you read through your entire agreement and customize it for your business. This will help you be prepared, confident, and at ease with your hiring decision. 

You have to get your hands on the right template first, though! 

Hiring a VA, designer, PR agent, copywriter, or other external contractor?

🌟🌟🌟 CLICK HERE FOR YOUR HIRING PEACE OF MIND🌟🌟🌟

The Legal Umbrella® Contractor Service Agreement

Hiring an executive assistant, OBM, director of operations, sales rep, or other internal contractor with access to sensitive info?

CLICK HERE FOR YOUR ULTRA-PROTECTIVE HIRING AGREEMENT

The Legal Umbrella® Contractor Engagement Agreement

Not sure which is best for your situation?? Comment below or email team@laynelyons.com, and we will be happy to help!

Oh, and in case you were wondering: I make my templates SO easy to customize! Always plain English, always easy to understand! You can customize yours in about 20 minutes. Yes, really!

May 10, 2023 — Layne Lyons Pecoff
Surprises - some you’ll love and some that will break your heart 💔

Surprises - some you’ll love and some that will break your heart 💔

Life is full of surprises each and every day. Some are happy surprises that put a smile on your face and a pep in your step. Others…not so much. A few years ago, a very real, literal life-or-death lesson was solidified for me in the Caribbean. At that time, Grant and I were living on a boat, hopping from one island to the next. Living an absolute dream, yes. But at the same time, the sea can be unpredictable and capricious. 

I quickly discovered how important it was to be prepared for…well, anything. Preparedness was the difference between sinking or swimming when conditions suddenly took a turn — literally! I saw how my greatest strength as a lawyer translated to ocean survival skills: the ability to look ahead and anticipate any and all problems that might pop up. 

That foresight and anticipation will be your road map when you’re faced with life’s worst surprises. As I often say, “The only thing worse than a disaster is a disaster without a plan.”

This has been a season of many unexpected surprises — both the happy and the challenging kind. It has been a season of leaning on my disaster plan, and also one filled with stunning beauty. 

Last year, Grant and I made the monumental decision to put down roots in Hawaii. We bought our dream house and have been knee deep in renovations to truly make it our own. Our new home has been the source of so many amazing surprises.

Soon after moving in, seemingly out of nowhere, an entire symphony of beautiful, vibrant orchids popped up along the rock wall in our garden. They have been putting on a display of such brilliance each day that I can’t wait to go outside each morning to see what they have in store for us. Each day, new ones bloom, old ones get bigger, more petals open or close. 

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It’s nothing short of stunning.

But those aren’t the only surprises the garden had in store for us. To my absolute delight, I discovered tons and tons of beautiful, perfectly juicy baby tomatoes. Just right there for the taking! Belonging to us, totally out of the blue! 

 

I lean on these beautiful surprises when the not-so-welcome ones pop up, as they have been doing with more frequency than I’d like lately. 

Starting with perhaps the unhappiest surprise of all. After two years of separation due to COVID-19, two years of worry and stress and collective family efforts to keep my mother safe from the virus, she was finally set to visit me here in Hawaii. Two full years without seeing one another! To say the anticipation was all-consuming would be an understatement!!

Then it happened. Life threw one of those curveballs again. Three days before her flight, my mother got COVID. Cue the panic and the worry and the fear and the canceled plans. Cue the complete and utter disappointment. 

Thankfully, after a very rough couple of weeks, my mother was on the mend and has since visited a couple of times!

Life happens, and it almost never asks for permission to proceed. Whether we like it or not, conditions and circumstances can change so fast, we get whiplash. Without the right mindset, the right “plan B” or the right awareness, surprises of any kind can be overwhelming. 

This is why I am so passionate about helping women anticipate unwelcome surprises - those little hiccups, roadblocks and obstacles that can, at best, throw you off your game for a bit, and at worse, wreak havoc on your business and your life. 

Have you had any unexpected surprises pop up in your life or business lately? Comment below and let me know. I’d be honored to laugh (or cry) with you. 

Here’s to nothing but happy surprises and smooth sailing ahead!

April 12, 2023 — Layne Lyons Pecoff