In this episode, Christina chats with Jeremy Streten about the legal must-knows that business owners need to be aware of to avoid trouble in their business.
hey busy business people I am here today with another entrepreneur taking action Jeremy stretton hopefully I said that way Jeremy helps business owners make sense of their legal stuff that they need to get right in their business so they can avoid trouble and I'm getting the scoop today on how he does it so stay tuned
[Music] all right hey Jeremy like why did you think business owners avoid getting legal advice for their business why are they putting that off Christina um it's a great question and I think that there's really three main reasons uh the first reason is that people don't like dealing with lawyers I'm a lawyer I've been a lawyer for nearly 20 years at the time of recording this and what I've seen time and time again is that people don't want to deal with a lawyer because they some lawyers present company excluded things that you know or at least act like they're better than other people and so they have that there's a bit of a a problem that occurs in the industry where they're kind of acting out and they're trying to they're trying to pretend that they're better than people and you know I think a lot of lawyers would probably take that as a bad badge of honor I don't but I think it's so I think it's a one reason why there's such a divide between lawyers and their clients the second reason is that a lot of lawyers charge on time uh so if you're you know if you're charging on time you charge on you know generally it's a six minute increment of time so if you you know chart if you do work for five minutes and 30 seconds or a minute then you charge one unit of time whatever that whatever that works out to be if you do see six minutes and 10 seconds you charge two minutes two two units of time so it's like double the fee and I think that creates a divide between lawyers and their clients where the client's trying to get out of the conversation or trying to get quicker advice or start questioning how much time spent on it because they're they're doing this this um yeah they're being charged based on the time on the time that they're spending on it um and the third thing is that there's a lot of legal terms out there that sound confusing you know like law is all based on Latin and Latin has all these big confusing terms and a lot of people just get turned off by the language of Law and it doesn't have to be that way you know lawyers can speak in plain English we can't explain things in a simple to understand way and so they're my three big reasons to answer that question Christine I don't know I hope I've answered your question there but I think that that's a it's a really important thing for people to understand that not all lawyers are like that and there is a better way of doing it well I think one of the other issues I know this me personally before I ended up with just like one of those Legal Shield things on retainer it's you don't even know if you need to ask the lawyer a question so it's really hard to just be like hey I've got to explain what's going on so I need your time so that I know if I need to actually book a paid consult with you like that one is a really tricky one too um how would somebody go about figuring out like do I even need to talk to a lawyer what are some like red flags that would be like yeah it's worth me giving you you know money for your time it's such an important question and it's one that I think comes back to really one word and that's education you need to educate yourself about what the legal risks are in your business as a lawyer I know that the normal legal risks that someone's going to have in their business and I know and and you know and you will know the business situation that you have but coming together it can be a very difficult uh thing because of what you've talked about there because uh people don't know what they're talking about so as an entrepreneur as a business owner if you can educate yourself about what are the normal problems that arise in law and then um and then you go to the lawyer to help you solve it I think there's a sometimes there's a divide there where people they think that they can educate themselves and they get to make the decision about whether or not they need to do something or not and that might work you know seven out of ten times I'm just pulling that number out but you know it may work it won't work a certain number of times but what I would say is that uh you know for the for anything that you're not sure about once you've got that education about what a legal aspect of your business is what are legal risk is in your business you can understand generally why you should do that or you shouldn't do that and then go and get the advice from the lawyer or the attorney they're the same thing we generally call them lawyers over here in Australia and you guys call them call them attorneys in America um and and um and get the advice about what you need to do and then you go forward with that confidence so it's really that education Christina that I think is so super important and something that a lot of people Miss uh but it's so easy to do that brought up like two really good questions have to figure out which one to ask first so one of them one thing you said earlier was you know a lot of legal stuff happens in Latin and you know you can speak in plain English so I know one thing I've heard people kind of tossed around is you know when you you have basic contracts and stuff that you send with a client when you're starting an engagement or whatever and those things are pain they're terrible to read They're awful and so there's been this kind of trend of creating plain English contracts and I've heard pushback that oh well those aren't legal because they're not written in legalese like what do you what do you have to say about that with like plain English agreements and contracts with clients yeah I think that anyone who says that that they're not legally enforceable um I'm not gonna be rude I think it's hogwash I think it's I think it's complete hogwash I yeah I've read I I've read and I've studied the law all around the world yeah from Australia where I'm based to the US to the UK to South Africa yeah India I I've studied it all and planning this definitely works and saying that it doesn't really means that you haven't tried hard enough like honestly uh it means you haven't tried hard enough to explain something in plain English because it does work and you don't need all those all those complicated words that are in the agreements but I'll I'll go with hogwash I think the hogwash is is um but I think people could probably get I said about that it's it's yeah it's nonsense yeah a lot of clients that really do appreciate it when whenever I show them because I I went through great pains to understand the contracts that I got from my lawyers and translate them into something that was easy to understand and I went through and rewrote them all because it was like every time a lawyer touches it it just gets harder and harder to understand and so it's like I I worked hard on rewriting them and playing English and my clients appreciated that most of the time they're like I understand what this is and what I'm signing and thank you and trying like to inject a little bit of humor in there and stuff like that because like they need to understand what it is
um and and I think that that's one of the the parts of law that lawyers do themselves a great disservice by by not doing that and and you know at the end of the day I'm glad that you said that you did that Christina because a lot of people don't they just get their agreement from their lawyer and that's what they use even if they don't understand it but at the end of the day you own your business you yeah you're you're accountable for what happens in your in your business and you're responsible for it there will be above the line behaviors and uh you know you need to make sure that you understand it you need to make sure that you're comfortable with it you need to make sure that you are willing to go and sell on it otherwise it just won't work so yeah yeah you've got to take action yeah I love the end of your podcast entrepreneurs taking action because you've got to take action because the butt stops with you and there's no no excuse of oh my lawyer told me to do it or my lawyer wrote this or whatever flies because you're the owner of the business when I started learning to ask like what sections of this are unenforceable like what have you included just because we're assuming they won't know that I can't enforce it because like that's just making to me that's making it unnecessarily complex like if I have to present my client at 10 page legal document that they can't understand and five of those pages I cannot even enforce and I end up with like a contract that takes me two weeks longer to get signed because they have to send it to their lawyer and their lawyer has to review it and then their lawyer says well these are unenforceable we would like them removed and like it just causes friction that's unnecessary like what do you think about those sections of the of the stuff being in there if you can't even enforce it anyway check it out unless unless it's it's unless it's designed to like as kind of guard rails on the operation of the business so I think that yeah one of the things that people get wrong so much in agreements is that they they don't Define like the rules I like to look at an agreement as really a disagreement in the sense of it's what's going to happen if we disagree uh and so having that procedure in place you can also have in there you know what you were what you're agreeing to have in there and whether or not that's fully enforceable well that I mean at the end of the day you know think about it if you're ever actually going to go to court um yeah I know that I know that the US is quite a litigious society and you know Australia's becoming more and more like that but most of the time you know it'd be the one percent of the one percent of of matters that actually end up going to court so I think unless it unless if it's not enforceable but it helps some understanding between the parties then it could go in there but if it's just legalese that is not enforceable because it's for whatever other reason to take it out it's not necessary and it's just complicated is everything going forward I've gotten where I kind of break those out into two different parts like one of them is just like I started calling it an mou a memorandum of understanding like hey this isn't legal but it's just so that we're on the same page and we understand what we're doing together and then here's the legal piece right here this is the actual legal agreement and kind of breaking those into two different sections because people get nervous about the legal agreement part the understanding part or like hey are we just on the same page with things they're like oh yeah okay cool yeah I agree we're doing the same thing but the legals where they're like oh crap I guess this to my lawyer and they have to review it and it's like oh my God all we're doing is like a 500 project this shouldn't take like two weeks in attorneys and Christina that works so well and that's a great analogy to that is like a will so if you're doing your will you're talking about what you're going to leave to your your family or your friends or whoever when you die there's lots of things that you have there's jury uh you know there's there's cars there's houses there's paintings all the stuff that you have there's a Temptation with a will to put all that into the will right but then as soon as you sell any of that stuff then you've got to go back to the lawyer and redraft the will so you're better off having that outside the will document and it's the same with an agreement you're 100 right have it in in a document that you understand that you don't need to go to a lawyer to change because it's actually just the guard rails of how the business is going to be run so I think that's a great a great way of doing it as well you can either have it in the agreement or have as a separate document to go forward that's smart I don't even know you could do that with Will so I learned something new today yeah cool um something else you mentioned is like you're in Australia and you've been all over the place and I know especially here in the US that lawyers have to be licensed in all of the different states they have to understand the different state law and federal laws and like so lawyers kind of specialize in all these niches kind of like doctors I know your business is actually helping people worldwide as well as your personal experience like if somebody's wanting to work with you and you're worldwide do they need to be concerned about like your ability to speak to local things or how does that I don't even know how to ask that question correctly but I know that sometimes people are concerned about so yeah and it's a it's something that that I think is is an important thing to get on the table so we're not the business legal life cycle isn't about providing the actual work the lawyer works so it's not we're not providing documentation we're not giving specific advice to your situation we're doing the education piece so we're educating you about why you need to take these legal steps we're educating you about why these things are important so that we then Empower you to go and work with an attorney to do that work we actually have a referral service as well Christina where we can actually refer people to uh an attorney or lawyer and we have we have like networks around the world of of lawyers that um that we've built and that we're building uh to help us to do that as well so so our product isn't about isn't about actually going in there and doing the work if I was going to do that it would be a I did a massive law firm with people all over the world and I'm just not interested in that in that what I'm interested in is is that education piece that you know when we come back to what we talked about earlier you know what people get wrong and it's not understanding what they need to do and why they need to do it so so my books talk about the high level concept and the funny thing Christina is that as someone who's been around the world and talked to lawyers around the world the law is actually really similar in in what it achieves uh you know the the book that I wrote in Australia but I changed it to the UK law which I went to because it's like the basis of most laws around the world or at least in the western world uh because they colonized part of the world um it is um it was only about 20 different in Australia and a lot of that was just terminology in the US it was only about 25 different to the Australia and the and the UK version so at a high level of what you need to do in your business from a legal perspective it's it's very very similar and so so I help you to understand what it is that you need to do why you need to do it then that empowers you to go to see your own lawyer or to you know we can refer you to one so that you can find out more about what you need to do make sure that you need to do it and then they go and help you actually do the work that you need to do so kind of tying back into one of those very first questions that I was asking about or it was you know how do you like know when to talk to a lawyer if you help them know when to talk to a lawyer fantastic [Laughter] well that's that's exactly what we want to achieve yes I mean I know it okay so now we're talking about like the law is kind of the same you know around all over the world so no matter where our listeners are at like what are some common mistakes or things that most people just do not understand when it comes to like business and the law so we've talked a bit about agreements uh and actually documenting agreements you know one of the the phrases that I hear all over the world and I was in the UK you know about a month ago or maybe two months ago now actually and um and I was talking to some business owners over there and it was the same thing it's oh yeah why bother having an agreement because it's not worth the paper it's written on and that is yeah and that that's an agreement with say a business partner or it might be with your clients or customers it might be with your employees right and um you know when you when you're really diving to that statement which is one of those you know those things that people say you know it's not worth the Papers written on and and then you delve into it you ask a question why people's they can't stop for a second and and the reason why 99 times out of 100 that I've seen is because they didn't get the right advice about doing the agreement they just pulled something off the internet or they grabbed something from a friend it's not worth the paper it's written on if you just if you don't invest the time and money to making sure that it is worth the paper through or not because no two agreements yeah you refer to a LegalShield before Christina and that's a great service I think it's a great product and it's really helpful and and you know at the end of the day you you know most of their agreements you need to customize for yourself and if you just try and rely upon the agreement that you download off the internet and it's probably not worth the Papers written on over here in Australia you know it's scary how many times people come to us with an agreement that refers to U.S law uh because they've downloaded it off the internet or they've found it on the or they founded some on the internet and it it scares me because and even in the US you see ones that you know might be a company based in Delaware that has you know something they've seen from uh from a Texas uh law and it refers to that they haven't thought through the actual implications so I think the big thing is it's not worth the paper it's written on if you don't invest the time and money making sure it's right and that's probably the the biggest thing that I see worldwide people getting wrong because that's think I'll just go and fix that later you know what sometimes that works and sometimes that that's okay it's the times when it doesn't work that you you will wish that you had spent a little bit of money and uh yeah I determine investing the money in making sure that it's right and that comes into employment agreements so for your team members it comes into you're dealing with your customers and clients and it comes into if you've got a business partner making sure that you're on the same page um I know there's so many services out there now like what rocket law and a whole bunch of other ones like it's so easy to just go find things now I mean even some of the just like document creation services like I think adobe's got some templates and stuff Panda doc all those other ones that like let you send agreements they have so many templates that are like so so so close like most of the time like cost saving wise I'll find some of those templates and I'll at least send it over to the lawyers at LegalShield they'll be like hey can you take a look at this this is what I'm trying to do does it make sense and you know they'll add about five pages of legalese to it um to make it make sense and then I'll go streamline it translate it back down to English [Laughter] I mean there's so many different things right I mean we talked about agreements which is obviously one with employees a business partners with clients I feel like it's important to do it even on smaller projects just you know appropriate sized agreements for appropriate size risk like I'm not going to send someone a 20 Page legal document for a 500 project like that doesn't really make it and the reason it's like sorry the reason for that is that you know whenever whenever two people come to some sort of agreement or some sort of understanding there understanding of what that means is based on their own experiences their own interpretations you know all that stuff that's in the back of their head and they might agree to it at that stage but then a year two years three years down the track they might have a different interpretation of it you might have a different interpretation of it your goals might have changed their goals might have changed so having it in writing actually and doing it properly stops those disagreements from coming up that end up costing lots of money with fighting with lawyers so I get it I get that those services are easy and as I said I think they do a great job as a starting point but I think there's more work that's involved on the back of it and as I said I think legalshield's a great service because I do provide that help sometimes it's not in in in plain English uh but you know as best you can
well I mean I think it's good to go over the agreement with your clients too I mean it's I know that's one thing that people have a tendency to do is just to send a proposal in the contract and all that kind of stuff just straight over especially with all these services like you know Panda Doc and stuff like that now that you can use where you can just like poof poof and it'll just send it to people and it's ready to sign I like to sit down and actually go over it you know I want them to know what it is they're saying for specifically the reason that you mentioned like it's we get a chance to talk it through and make sure that we're on the same page otherwise people ignore it and just be like yeah okay whatever this sounds good let's just sign you know they either ignore it or they send it off to the lawyer for review one of the two they're kind of almost is no middle ground like you'll very rarely get that one client who will actually read it but most of them are it's one or the other so I think that's really important um to actually make sure you're having that conversation with your client so I love that you brought that up I think that's great what are some other kind of main things that people need to pay attention to when it comes to the law I mean I know there's like intellectual property is another big concern like what are some things that you would advise there so that was going to be my next one so it's over on the same page there Christina uh so intellectual property yeah so really understanding what intellectual property actually means and what you need to do to protect it uh yeah there's a lot of misconceptions out there about what you can actually protect and then how you can actually go and protect it like people don't understand say copyright for instance um say my book for my book the business legal life cycle I have copyright in that book in you know worldwide and no one can copy my book but nothing stops someone from going I like this concept I'm going to adjust it I'm going to put it in my own words and sell it off you can't protect ideas you can only protect the expression of the idea and so especially with creators they need to understand that and that there's not a lot you can do to protect that that information because you know ideas yeah ideas are really worthless unless you go and take action and you go and implement it and so and so if you've got an idea there's nothing there's not really anything you can do to protect it unless it's something that you can get a patient from um or for and that's really around a novel process so or something like that so I think that that's something that people need to understand what they can actually protect you can you can definitely protect from you know employees stealing clients or you know taking you know intellectual property from your business you can protect all that all that as well but at a general level ideas are meaningless it's the implementation of the that matters and how you go about and do that um the other one is trademarks so every business has a trademark it's the name of the business or it's their logo uh you know there's a lot of misconceptions out there about actually registering that logo uh you you don't need to register the logo if you're not going to try and build some big business or anything else you know you can you can have an unregistered trademark if you're just if it's just going to be you trading that business you don't need to go to that expense uh because it's it's not something that you have to do and it's one of those things that if you look at a lawyer's checklist of what you need to do when you start up a business it's register a trademark and it's like yes that's that is right legally right don't don't misunderstand me from a Leo protection as a lawyer to protect the lawyer we have to tell you to do that but from a practical business point of view it's an expense that you don't need it's a few thousand dollars that especially a startup business operator doesn't need and the other thing around that Christina it's amazing how many times I've seen a business start up with one name they go and spend the two or three thousand dollars to register a trademark and then they come to me three years later and say look we've decided to change that company name so we need to register a new trademark and it's a waste of money so what in the life cycle if people are interested and they check out more about the life cycle they'll see that that's phase five and phase five is is about protecting your intellectual property but it's after the first four stages which is the conception is Phase One startup is phase two initial clients is phase three and then bringing on employees is phase four and the reason for all the reason it's after all of that is that uh we want to make sure that you've actually got a viable business before we go to that expense and we want to make sure that we've got a viable Pro product and and everything before we go to that expense so so that's why it's where it is and it's one of those those misconceptions and yeah as I said from a legal strict legal point of view it's not necessarily what a lawyer will tell you because they've got a yeah they're covering their backside I'm looking at it from a business point of view as well and saying why spend the money on on a from a from that from that perspective that makes a lot of sense I know I've been in business for a little over 15 years and I've changed my business name twice I probably won't change it again because it's annoying and I finally picked something that's like most business owners don't start with a relatively generic business name you know they start with something that's like oh it's fun and it's cutesy and it's like four or five words long and has all this packed full of meaning and you know after two iterations of that I was like I'm not gonna do that anymore I just like picked two words that felt meaningful smashed them together so it was like uh spark an initiative that's how we ended up with sparkative I'm the only one that's ever going to know that or mean anything but I have a made-up word and it works everybody misspells it but that's okay it's cool we got it um I know the other intellectual property that I see people protecting a lot is like if they've created systems um like I have our Authority explosion where we're doing like tons and tons and tons of content for somebody inside of like one like we do their book and all of their blogs and social posts and email blasts and videos and like all kinds of stuff in six months and so we have that program that is kind of an idea but like you see people trademarking that kind of stuff all the time does that make sense or is that pointless or what do you think I think that um that we're talking about registering a trademark that's just protecting the name and the brand of the business yeah if you've invested all that money in doing it then then great you know you invest all that money when you when you know that you've got a viable business so yes you can go and register at that at that point in time 100 and if you're going to invest that much money in putting all that all that stuff there which I think is awesome then yes go go and register the trademark at that point in time but prove it out first and make sure that you're not going to change the name because it's a waste of money otherwise that makes a lot of sense I know people are creating custom programs and stuff all the time nowadays they're like you know masterminds and trademark and all the craziest things so it's like everybody's like you need to go trademark that I'm like I don't know what the point is so look at me getting free legal advice um anyway if somebody else is listening and they don't get to ask you questions to get free legal advice like I just got to and they need some help like where can they go to get some help who do you like to kind of to work with yeah um thanks Christina so the best way is if I've created a landing page as a thank you for having me on the show so if people are interested to find out more if they go to businesslegal lifecycle.com ETA for entrepreneurs taking action I just want to make it really easy for people to see eat just ETA uh they'll be able to go onto the website they'll see uh there's a bunch of free resources on that page and I mentioned before um about you know we help people identify their legal risks we have our signature product is a assessment that you can take off your business it takes about 10 minutes you answer 30 questions and what it does is it identifies what's missing in your business from a legal perspective it identifies where you are in the life cycle so in the 13 phases and tells you what you need to do for the future and gives you a checklist of all the things that you need to do so that you can take that to your lawyer or we can refer you to one uh to go and put that into into action for your business and as a thank you for having me on the show uh it's normally 97 we are happy to offer the listeners 50 discount on that um there's instructions on how to claim that I was just using a discount code and they can go and claim that so they can find out more about that and then if you're interested there's lots of resources on that on that website that answer a lot of the questions that people have around their business and we're constantly putting up new stuff as well uh to really yeah whenever we get asked questions we look at how can we answer that in an article because if someone else has that question and other people have got that question too so that would be the easiest way for people to connect with me awesome thank you so much for putting that together that's a really useful resource for people so great it's amazing I'll make sure that link as wherever you're listening to this at out on the web we put it out all over the place wherever you're listening that link will be somewhere around the video um so definitely check that out and click it I think that's such a useful resource especially for such a low price with a discount and everything too that's kind of one of those no-brainer offers that you need to take advantage of so thank you so much for coming on today this has been absolutely amazing thanks so much for having me Christina it's been a pleasure all right awesome until next time guys make sure you head over to ETA today.zone to learn more about how to build a business that enables your lifestyle instead of taking over your life with lots of great information from other experts just like Jeremy bye guys
[Music] thank you