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Today’s topic isn’t something we talk about much, but it’s vital if you, or someone you know, is starting or running their own business.

As someone who’s built a business from the ground up — no investors, no MBA, nothing but passion, drive and a lot of hard work — this is a lesson I wish I had when I first started.

Setting your legal foundation leads to more money, not less. @JWilliamsEsq Click To Tweet

With most complex and often fear-inducing topics – like how to get legally set up for success – a bit of initial education goes a long way.

It empowers you with a framework to ask intelligent questions and take smart actions to protect yourself, your clients and your future early on when starting your business.

In today’s MarieTV episode, learn 3 common legal mistakes small business owners make, and how to fix them.

View Transcript

Check out this episode on The Marie Forleo Podcast

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As promised, we’ve got additional insight to help get your legal foundation in place. I’ll hand the mic off to JoNa and come back for your comments at the end.

— Enter Jo-Ná

1. How To Choose The Right Business Structure: Sole Props, LLCs, S-Corps

When deciding on what the right structure is for your business it’s important to seek the advice of an attorney and a tax professional. Things to consider:

  1. Your personal tax circumstances – examples: Are you married? Have children? Own property?
  2. The filing costs – If you’re having a cash flow concern this could be a determining factor when choosing a business entity. Some are entities are relatively inexpensive to file while others can be more costly. Have your attorney review the potential costs for any entity recommendation.
  3. Ease – Some entities will require yearly maintenance and filing, while others do not. If you’re a person that prefers not to deal with the hefty paperwork you may want to discuss with your attorney an entity option that requires less paper pushing.
  4. Tax benefit vs EVERYTHING else – Speak with your tax professional about the tax percentage benefits versus all the other factors (like those listed above) when choosing the right entity. It may be significant enough, it may not. Once you know the benefits, weigh them against the liabilities so you can make an informed decision.

Here’s a quick list to weigh the pros and cons of the entities primarly used by online business owners (note: this is not a comprehensive list of all the available business entities).

Sole Prop
Advantages – Little to no paperwork. Low maintenance. Affordable.
Disadvantages – No legal protection for your assets. No tax benefits. No opportunities for growth or expansion.

Advantages – Protection for your personal assets. No double taxation. Tax benefit. Heightened credibility with customers, clients and vendors. Opportunities for growth via shareholders.
Disadvantages – Formation and ongoing fees can get costly. May be heavy on paperwork. Higher IRS Scrutiny.

Advantages – Protection for your personal assets. Easier filing and management requirements. No filing a separate business tax return.
Disadvantages – No tax benefit (you’re taxed at your personal tax rate). However, some states and the IRS may let you get taxed as an S-Corp.

2. Protecting your goods and services:

When you’re selling goods and services without a written agreement you’re creating a contract without terms that you determine. It will then be left up to common contract law if you’re ever in a dispute. An better option is to create a written agreement (aka service agreement) with your clients and customers. This takes care of your business and your customers because you’re both clear of the obligations you have under agreement.

Some of the sections you may include in your agreement:

  1. Names of the Parties
  2. Services being offered
  3. Price
  4. Method of payment and schedule of payments
  5. Refund Policy
  6. Protection for your intellectual property
  7. What triggering events will terminate the contract
  8. Venue – location where disputes will be settled
  9. Disclaimers, if any
  10. Confidentiality clause

As every business is different, there may be other items you need. Speak to an attorney about your business to ensure all your bases are covered before securing any future clients/customers with an agreement.

3. Business Relationships – Working with your team, contractors or vendors

It’s important that you solidify your business relationships with the proper written terms to protect your business from tax liability and prevent your sensitive information from distribution to a third party.

For your team – have each member of your team sign an independent contractor’s or employment agreement. Some of the sections you may include in this agreement are (this is not an exhaustive list):

  1. Their personal identifying formation
  2. Business name
  3. Job title
  4. Who’s their direct report
  5. Their job responsibilities
  6. Pay rate
  7. Their payment schedule
  8. Non-Disclosure clause – a clause that indicates all company information remains confidential and will not be distributed to a third party.
  9. Tax obligations of the hiree, if any.
  10. Company benefits (ex. health insurance, paid vacation, etc.), if any.

Some pro tips when hiring a contractor or employee:

  1. Contact your tax professional to determine whether you should have employees or contractors and any tax liability you may incur with either choice.
  2. Get a signed agreement and their tax documentation before they start working with you. (Please note: If you live in the U.S. and you’ve hired a contractor and paid them over $600.00 in a tax year, you will have to issue them a 1099 form. Have them fill out a W-9 and keep it on file).
  3. Discuss all policies and procedures with your company and ensure they sign a document indicating you’ve had that discussion (and they have had the opportunity to ask questions and gain clarity) or they have received a copy of your company handbook that contains your policies and procedures.

If you have more questions please post them in the comments below, or contact my firm at info at jawilliamslaw dot com. We’d be happy to answer them!

(Disclaimer: This video and accompanying content (blog, YouTube descriptions, etc. herein referred to as “Content”) is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice of any kind. Jo-Ná Williams and J.A.Williams Law, P.C. assumes no liability for use or interpretation of any information contain in this Episode or this document. This Episode should not be an alternative to obtaining legal advice from a licensed attorney in your state based on the specific facts of your legal matter. Jo-Ná Williams is licensed to practice law in the State of New York only.)

— End of Jo-Ná’s additional info for MarieTV viewers.

As always, I’d love to hear from you.

If you don’t have all your legal ducks in a row, what’s the one step you can take right now to get yourself on track?

Other insight or stories you’d like to share about the power of making sure you have a strong legal foundation for your business?

Let us know in the comments below.

As always, thank you so much for reading, watching and sharing so generously.

You make Tuesdays absolutely incredible.

All my love,


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  1. Wow, this is amazingly valuable info! I remember feeling VERY overwhelmed by all the legal considerations when I was first setting up my business, and this would have been invaluable. Even still, there’s a lot a realized I didn’t know after watching this!

    I will say, one of the first freelancers we started working with was a CPA, and I recommend that to anyone starting a business. She clarified a LOT of this at the beginning. And I’ll be sending this video on to all of my friends and clients who want to start a business.

    Thanks for another amazing MarieTV!

    • I was one of those “I’ll just set up an LLC” type people. I knew I didn’t want to deal with being a sole proprietor and the liabilities around that. But I tried to do that with a friend of mine, and quickly realized that it was FAR more of a headache for tax purposes to have an LLC. It really pays to consider your situation.

      • Bella

        I was in the same decison making boat Lisa 🙂 I set up an LLC for the same reasons. Curious does anyone know if you can start off as an LLC and then evolve to an S-Corp if that is better for you biz as you grow? Is this possible?

        Great topic today. I really appreciate this practical discussion about the nuts and bolts and legal side of running your own business!

        Thank you lovelies!

        • Shena

          Yes, it is possible to convert to an S-corporation after starting as an LLC.

          • I am attorney who has just finished writing my first novel. Although (and because) I am a lawyer, I hesitated before signing it when I realized I had not thought about what entity to which royalties should be issued — me as an individual or a corporation or LLC? A writer would appear to be an individual with no liabilities to worry about, right? Not so! Perhaps someone says I stole their intellectual property (ex. Dan Brown, Da Vinci code). Perhaps someone says they are obviously one of the characters and are shown in a poor light. If I am sued & the book assets aren’t enough to cover legal action or damages (if awarded) then they plaintiff could dip into my saved, personal assets. OUCH! Think think think before you sign sign sign.

    • Thank you so much Kristen and I am so glad you like the episode. Yes, it’s crucial to get the right set up and I am happy to hear that you will send this to other people that need to tighten their legal purse strings!

      • Jo-Na it’s soo exciting to see you featured on Marie Forleo. All of the women in Mentor Masterclass who are training to become Life Coaches or take their coaching business to the next level of success are soo lucky to get to have YOU as one of their exclusive mentors. What a treat to be in the early stages of building their coaching business and to get to learn from you in the first few months of becoming a life coach exactly what they need to do to get set up for success as a young woman thought leader. The video we have featured of you right now on the home page has really helped the women feel grounded as life coaches who want to be sure they are set up legally. Thank you love and congratulations. It’s an honor working with you!

        • Hi Jeannine,
          Thanks so much for cheering me on. I really appreciate it. It was awesome being a part of your mentor masterclass and I am so happy to know that your clients are finding value in what we did. Becoming a coach can be very scary so I applaud you for bringing in other professionals to make this seamless and easy for them to get the information they need!

          • Jo Na, you rocked it. I am also an attorney and something as simple as signing a royalty agreement creates both tax and other liabilities (see my comment above). Thanks for this concise summary and the directions to hire experts to help negotiate the issues too.

    • Kristen I see that you recommend IPEC. I would love to connect with you around and it being a reference point for your clients. Jo-na is actually one of the featured celebrity mentors ensuring any woman who is becoming a life coach gets set up legally bullet proof from the start.

      • Thank you Jeannine for sharing your information I am going to check you and your mentors out! Looks like what I need. I’m so grateful to Jo-Na for representing. This topic has really lifted me. I’ve been looking for a team of mentors who are professional and really working towards the up-liftment of everyone that needs help with the next steps. I’m just launching my business in a few days. And I’m not a coach, or certified to coach, I am a yoga teacher and a registered nurse. Plus with my business experience thanks to b-school over the past 3 years I’ve just developed a talent and have a keen sense of helping new entrepreneurs or passion/purpose seekers to gain clarity on their brand offer in less than a day, plus I offer continued support, taking actionable steps and like a friend stay engaged till they get their first paying customer! It’s striking the beautiful connections I’ve made thus far, yet, I’m the “go to” with in my circle, I NEED a go to for myself!! So anyone else out there on this chat that is going through it with me please reach out. I’d love to become friends with purpose. Plus the legal advice is indeed necessary. Marie, thank you for offering such a great interview with Jo-Na, I know this is my next step to going pro! I can’t say thank you enough.

    • Gaurav

      This is an important message. I am in the process of setting up my own entity and hence feel that choosing the right structure is extremely critical. You might start up your business as a proprietor but apart from being exposed to unlimited liability, you may not be able to add business partners as it would require a change in the legal structure. One should not compromise on this even though it comes with incremental cost.

      Thanks for reiterating the message Marie ! Look forward to your next edition.

      • Yes a Sole prop is you operating as you. So there is no opportunity for partners there. A Partnership would be the next level up from that technically. Glad you are taking the steps to solidify and clarify your foundation. Thank you for watching!

    • BTW, the lovely CPA that I mentioned I started working with is named Helena Swyter, and she’s amazing. 🙂

    • Charla

      I need to start interviewing attorneys.
      Thanks, Marie!

  2. Hi Marie and Jo-Na, loved this and thank you! My big takeaway: treat you and your biz as a successful, powerful, and abundant asset and plan accordingly, no halfsies or corner cuts.

    • Yes Robin… I had this insight recently around my work space. A session with Cheryl Rozovsky showed me that I can’t expect my business to grow if I’m working in a tip! No halfsies or corner cuts.

    • “No halfsies or corner cuts” – I love that. They call businesses an “entity” because it lives and breathes like a person. It needs to be cared for the same way. Great point, Robin!

    • Absolutely Robin! No half steppin’ go all in if you want your clients and customers to do the same with you. Thank you watching!

      • I can’t put my finger on it, but I’ve seen you before via television, somewhere. LOL…anywho, thanks for your advice…as I’ve been under the impression that I need to do the LLC…so, now I’m rethinking.

        • HAHA! I have no idea Shun. But when you find out let me know. Yes, make sure you are making the best financial and liability move. See a Lawyer and Accountant. 🙂

  3. Hello Marie,
    Thank you so much for those tips. Here in France, the system is really different. We also have a lot of different options but the law is very strict and protective concerning employees. So things become very tricky as soon as you want to hire someone for help. As entrepreneurs, we always have to be very careful about not jumping into high charges…But at the same time, take our structure development seriously. The choices are not always easy to make…

    • Yes it’s very different in France. I have an assistant that lives there. Hopefully you’ll be able to take the underlying principles presented here and apply them even if you can’t directly apply the law. Like you said, we definitely have to take it seriously. Thank you so much for watching.

  4. This. Is. Mad. Awesome!!! I love love love you for going deeper into the nuts and bolts of business.

    So many people are creative. They “start” a business by simply doing the business. However, when it comes to the nuts and bolts: defining your business structure, registering the business or incorporating, developing client contracts, taxes, and more, lots of people are scared or they have no idea where to go.

    A great resource for officially and legally starting your business is There are plenty of articles on starting a business, in depth details about how to write a business plan, detail about each of the business structures, and so much more. I highly recommend it.

    • YESSSS Ms. Pillowz! You’re so right. Too often I do not see people take their business seriously with the nuts and bolts but you sound like you’re on the right track and I am sure that others will follow suit. Thank you so much for the link. It’s a great resource.

      • Thank you for your response! I was fortunate to have worked at a Small Business Development Center at my university. That’s also a great resource for people who want to start a business and it’s FREE!! 🙂

    • Bella

      Thanks Ms. Pillowz for this link! Much appreciated!!

  5. I love this new topic because it is very important to protect our business. My step is to talk to a lawyer and figure out what I need right now. It’s worth it!

    • Hi Sandy! I’d be happy to schedule a chat with you to discuss your legal needs. Feel free to shoot me an email to discuss further: [email protected]

    • Yes Sandy! You certainly should get your ducks in a row and speak to a lawyer and if you ever have additional questions. Stop by my way, I would be more than happy to assist. Thank you so much for watching!

  6. Ooh, this is a grown up topic!

    I notice how Resistance rises up for me as soon as any legalities get mentioned which shows me just how important this is – it’s all about Turning Pro. Kendrick Shope did a great series about this material recently and I baulked at it then, too!

    One thing I can do is chat to my accountant about whether there’s flexibility for me to turn from ‘self-employed’ to being an official bus-in-ess.

    Thank you Jo-Ná, I feel much more mature after today’s episode!
    Elloa x

    p.s. love the new email option below!

    • I was JUST going to say that this sounds like another thing I need to add to my “Go Pro” list!

  7. As an attorney for women entrepreneurs and B-School grad, I am thrilled to see Marie shining the spotlight on such a critical component to running a successful business! Ladies, I would love to support you in getting your legal ducks in a row, and it’s never too early to start. Stop by my website and sign up for free legal tips. xo Julie

    • Hi Julie!

      Good to know.

      I’ve been building businesses online since 2005. I’ve structured my building/investing business under LLC’s… and yet I was lax to protect my online biz (and myself) in the same manner.

      Sounds crazy because I know better but it still took me a few years. But geez, with the horror stories today, it’s ludicrous not to.

      Hopping over to check out your site.

      darlene 🙂

      • Thanks Darlene! I hear similar stories all too often from my clients – many entrepreneurs have a lot of resistance around dealing with lawyers and legal work. Please do check out my site and let me know if there’s any way I can support you!

        Wishing you all the best!

        • Great job, Julie. I am an attorney but turned author so I am aware of these issues but not practicing it (right now anyway). Happy to see someone of your caliber doing so ONLINE. Hurray. I am always shocked when vendors or contractors seem insulted when I nitpick a contract… like for something as important as who owns the image I am buying when it is ambiguous in their contracts. It is not personal, but people on the other side of the legal issues sometimes take it personally. Going to check out your site too. Thanks again for your service.

          • Hi Diana! Thanks so much for your message and congratulations on taking the leap out of corporate. I never enjoyed legal work the way I do now when I was part of the machine. I studied in Italy while I was in college – totally appreciate your love of all things Italian! I’ll have to check out your book. Best of luck! xo Julie

    • I sure will!, thanks Julie!

  8. Yeaaah! I feel like this topic stops so many people and I’m happy to see Jo Na taking the stage to clear the cobwebs of confusion here. 🙂

    Also for all the Canadian and international people, check with your local attorneys / government websites since the options aren’t the same as the in the US. For example in Canada there’s only “sole proprietor” (no business entity) and “incorporated” (business entity).

    • Thanks for that Nathalie. I was going to make a comment about biz here in Canada. I lived in SF for a few years and helped create and run a biz there so I know what is the same and different about doing biz in both countries. Except for legal structures and some tax stuff, biz is run the same in both countries. As you said we can be a sole proprietor, have a partner (similar to being sole proprietor) or set up as a corporation. I wrote an ebook about how to start a service business on a shoestring and have lots of info at the very beginning about that 🙂

    • Nathalie!!

      So happy you watched the episode. Yes Canadian entities are a little different. Thanks so much for shedding light on it for all of them! xo

      • Stephie

        Amazing info on a very intimidating subject. Thank you Jo-Na and Marie.

        I wish we had the LLC option in Canada. I found this website useful in explaining the pros and cons of the different Canadian business structures.

      • Meegan

        Thanks Marie and JoNá for emphasizing this hot topic. Something that many overlook and pay for later. I like how both of you put it into plain, ol’ English. Very helpful for many!

        JoNá does anyone on your team deal with Canadian law? If not, can anyone recommend a lawyer in Ontario, Canada? I have had basic contracts developed but I think they need fine-tuning to my industry. I’m in design and marketing and would love someone who understands this industry.

        Also, do contracts need to be reviewed at any point to stay current?

        Thanks so much!

    • Thank you for the info, Nathalie. I’m in Canada and suspected it might be different. I’ll ask my accountant for advice.

      And thank you so much Marie and Jo-Na! The legal 101 bonus in B-school was also very helpful! xo

      • I am so glad you enjoyed the bonus and it really helped you. That’s what it’s all about. Getting out the information and applying it to ensure your success.

    • Nathalie, do you know any Canadian lawyers who have online programs/advice?

  9. This is such great timing! I was thinking about incorporating as an LLC but I wanted to get more information first.

    I’m going to go find a good accountant who can help me figure out which one is going to work best for me. Great advice!

    • Galen, I am so glad you watched the episode. I also want you to ask your accountant how much maintenance is involved with each entity. That will also factor into which one would be best. Many times the benefits do not outweigh the liabilities. Make sure you’re aware of that. Thank you so much for watching!

  10. Great guide, thanks Marie!

  11. Yay, I loved this episode of MarieTV. Definitely one of my absolute favorites. Thank you Jo-Ná for sharing such great advice. And thank you Marie for inviting my favorite rockstar lawyer onto your show. 🙂

    I’m hiring a team member this week, so my challenge is to get my agreement and W9 filled out and signed before the work begins.

    Thank you!

    • You know I will help you with figuring this out! Call me woman!

      • Of course I will! You’re the best. 🙂

      • Hi Jo-Na, do you consult with people from different states? I’m in NC and would love to get in touch if you support people in my area, just let me know how if so 🙂

  12. Great video. You definitely need to have everything set up beforehand. Build a strong foundation so you don’t have to worry about it crumbling down.

    I took a long look at taxes, choosing the right business structure, and how they would affect me down the line. It was a lot of upfront work but it has paid off with the peace of mind I have. It also allows me to focus my time on building my business rather than trying to plug holes in the ship.

    A couple of my old associates did not put the work in at the beginning and now they spend half their time performing damage control.

    Do it right so you only have to do it once!

    • Great point Solmadrid – damage control is not how we want to be spending our time.

      • The last five minutes of this video were the most valuable to me. I could never bring myself to sign a no nude hip-hop dancer lease agreement,though.

    • Amazing point Solmadrid. You were wise to make an investment in your foundation early on.

  13. Great talk, as usual. What caught my attention was the mention of protecting my IP. I don’t even know what that is, but was unable to connect to a group wi-fi both in Bali and in Austria in the last 2 weeks because of a message that someone was using my IP on the same server (or something like that – I’m not much of a techy). My initial web search didn’t reveal that this meant a security threat. Are you saying different? Should I be concerned?

    • I think she meant “Intellectual Property.” It’s a term referring to your personal, juicy ideas that you don’t want people hearing and going “Oh! I’m totally going to do that! *swipe*”

  14. jai Louys

    Great Topic!

  15. I am SO glad you posted this video Marie! I am in the process of recording a YouTube Video on helpful tips to entrepreneurs and small business owners just starting out. As a CPA, I run into numerous sticky situations after-the-fact, simply because the client didn’t know about certain legal and tax ramifications. A major lesson learned from a new client of mine this past year about contractors: hiring foreign contractors may seem like the more cost effective business solution, however when it comes to the mandatory 30% withholding requirement, it can turn into a very costly headache if you are not informed and aware of these required tax filings.

    • Such a great point regarding taxes. That’s why we rely on tax professionals like you to explore our options. Thank you for watching this!

    • Wow! I am so blessed to know both of you – Shana and Jo-Na. What a wealth of information you both possess and this means I’m all set for getting the advice and support I need for when I move to the US! I have relied on trying to ‘work things out for myself’ in the past with tax return stuff and service contracts in my scheduling app with my coaching, so it’s time to step things up! SUCH a great point about the sensitive info that VAs are privy to – I need to get myself an NDA… Thanks so much Jo-Na for such vital info.

  16. Woot woot Jo-Na! Love the advice, thanks for sharing!

  17. Great information!

    I have been sitting on my disclaimer for months now. So, thanks for the reminder. My goal is to have it up by Friday.

    • Awesome! Get ‘er done. 🙂 I really appreciate the fact that this episode inspired you to take an empowered action.

  18. So informative! I’m currently dealing with how to cover myself on intellectual property and personal ownership on item’s that I have created (infographics and images). I’ll be sure to keep these things is mine as my viewership grows.

    • Yes and Jennifer I just debuted a brand new guide on my site that would be perfect for you. It’s all about brand and content protection. Please sign up so you can get it for free. I know it will really help clear some things up for you and if you have any other questions, you can find me there.

  19. What a great topic! Thanks so much for this Marie TV episode it was perfectly timed. A lot of good food for thight especially regarding non disclosure agreements and independent contractors. Some days it does seem to take a village to build a brand 🙂

  20. This was a great episode. I feel like this is real life, applicable advice for so many of us. As soon as we launched our business we filed for an LLC. I just assumed it was the right thing for us and it turns out it is. After being in business for two years we hired an attorney/ tax accountant to do our taxes for us and it was amazingly less expensive than what we expected. And honestly, it is sooooooo worth it. Taxes are really time consuming and we should be focused on doing what we are good at, not spending our time figuring out and possibly getting things wrong that is not our forte.

    We are currently in the process of getting our trademark so if anyone wants to put together more info on that, I think it would be super helpful.. There isn’t a ton of info out there on how to copyright and trademark things and if it’s even necessary.

    • Oh my goodness. You are so right about that. I am happy to answer any questions you have regarding this. There isn’t a ton of information but I talk A Lot about it because it’s so important. I also have a brand new free guide that will also give you some helpful info on ways to legally protect your brand beyond trademark on my website. It so important for all us content creators. Keep rockin it!

  21. Wow LOVED this. I can adapt for UK, no problem, I’ve already got some of these in place, but will talk to my accountant about this in our meeting next week. Coool! thank you Katie x

    • GREAT! Sounds like a plan. Also make sure it’s the right entity for you too regarding the level of maintenance you want to deal with. Make sure you clear that up with your accountant.

  22. Kathryn Ortega

    Hey Marie!

    Thanks for these legal tips!

  23. My one action was googling “new Entrepreneur lawyer”

    If you’re in the NYC area, you may want to check out the City Bar Justice Center, Neighborhood Entrepreneur Law Project, Small/Micro-Business: 212.382.6633
    I just left them a message, we’ll see what happens!
    Thanks for making this a topic, Marie, it’s been on my to do list for too long!

    • Hello again,

      Update: NYC City Bar Justice Center holds appointments with VOLUNTEER LAWYERS in Brooklyn every few weeks. I just set-up my half hour appointment for next week!

      Call them, they returned my call within 24 hours! 212.382.6633

  24. Thank you so much for covering this topic. I was just in the process of filing for an LLC. This information is so timely for me. I have PrePaid Legal, so I am going to contact the lawyers there before submitting my LLC paperwork. I am also in the process of hiring a new account, so this is a great way I can interview him. If he doesn’t know much about this topic, I will find another account!


    thanks again!!

    • That’s a great way to VET and turn pro Kiana. It helps to have a skilled professional on your team!

      • Thank you so much, Jo-Na

        Starting a business is so foreign to me, and the legal aspects are just as foreign.
        So this segment is great for novices like me!!

  25. Thank you so much for this episode! It really struck a chord with me. I’m in the process of transitioning into health coaching and was being held back by some of the legal issues that could occur. So when Jo-Ná said, “if you’re a health coach…”, I thought this can’t be a coincidence! 🙂 I’ll interview 3 lawyers and then get my questions around service agreements and disclaimers answered. Thank you!

    • Yes Moira! Exactly. Interviewing will really help you decide who’s the right lawyer for you and whose style you really gel with. Service agreements are so crucial for health coaches. You HAVE make sure you’re protected.

  26. Hi Marie and Jo-Na!

    This information is invaluable for small business owners – thank you SO much for sharing this!

    When I was running The Mogul Mom, I had the opportunity to work with Nellie Akalp, the founder of, and she shared an amazing tool called the Business Structure Wizard that will help you find the best business structure for your company. It’s available at

    Thanks again…this information is SO empowering. 🙂


    • Thank you so much for watching the episode and providing your resources. 🙂

  27. I benefited greatly from this topic. My BFF is a lawyer and he made sure to inform me on which structure was best for me based on my current situation and my growth. This inspired me to take the next step and have a lawyer look over all my current contracts edit them specifically for my needs and my business, and to add a disclaimer to my website, in addition I am going to get that W9. LOVED this practical info- will save us so much problemas in the future.


    • Yay Christine. Having a lawyer bff is definitely a plus for many business owners. I’m getting more friends by the minute. Lol. Thank you for watching!

  28. Tammy Dalton

    Thanks for the great information! My business requires professional licensing too, so that’s something to consider as well. I would really like to hear JoNa’s take on insurance requirements for small business owners too. I know even after I had set up my S-corp and my written contracts, I didn’t feel entirely secure until I got myself a professional liability insurance policy. However, knowing what type of insurance is best for your business is tricky too. How to differentiate different policy types and what do they actually cover, you know?

    • Yeah insurance can be tricky. It really depends on your field. When in doubt contact your school or a school that serves the type of professional you are or venturing into. They can usually make some swift recommendations. That’s where lots of people start, especially health coaches.

  29. I love Jo-Na! I’m so excited to see her on Marie TV! Go girl!

    • I’m so glad you enjoyed the episode. I appreciate you!

  30. Alicia Renee

    Oh my! This was the best ‘un Q & A’ tuesday episode ever. The first thing I plan to do is interview a few pro’s. Unlike many entrepreneurs, I don’t have the balls to just jump out there without a net by not having my legal ducks lined up.

    Thanks Marie & thanks Jo-Na for breaking through another layer of resistance…this chica is Turning Pro. Wooty hooo!

    • Yes. I am so excited that you’re taking the step to turn pro. Don’t let anything stop you. You’ve got this!

  31. Having a good attorney can be one of the best investments you can make. I learned this the hard way.

    • Absolutely. Attorneys and Accountants are like the business tag team that will keep you out of hot water!

  32. I am also a lawyer for entrepreneurs and I am so glad that this information is being shared – it is so important that we all protect ourselves and our businesses.

    I am super excited to share that I am offering a legal group program running June 1 – June 30 with other B-School member, Julie Shavalier, as a guest Trademark expert! This is for US based businesses only.

    For more info, visit:

  33. Love this and think its such a place a an entrepreneur can be blindsided! I have been fortunate to utilize a legal service that affords me calls and document creation review for less than $100 a month. Its not perfect for everybody but the mix of account and on call lawyer is an awesome mix. Maria you rock! Thanks for continued inspiration and great information.

    • Chris, it sounds like you’ve got some great help. I am so glad you enjoyed the episode. No blindsiding here. Let’s get it out there! 🙂


    Growing up in a family of entrepreneurs helped me to have my eyes open to much of this. I still hear my mama saying C.Y.A – which means Cover Your Ass. She meant that in dating and in business. 🙂

    • HAHAHA I love that. It can have a ton of meanings. It’s great to come from a family that knows these things, most of us don’t. Great edge.

  35. this was great, solid info. I particularly liked the “pro” tip. Am about to enter into several new business relationships and wasn’t even thinking about contracts (as so many relationships tend to be based more in trust). Thank you!

    Also – I use contracts with every client and I’ve been amazed by how many clients read through the contract and know the details. Has definitely served me on monre than one occasion.

    • Yes I always tell people to get their relationships in writing. You never want to leave yourself or your business uncovered. Very important!

  36. Marie and Jo-Na!

    Thank you so much for covering this. I get nervous about this whole topic which means it’s time to do something about it!

    Is it imperative that you talk to a lawyer and an accountant who lives and practices in the same state as you?
    Thanks so much!


    • Hi Molly,

      Yes it’s time to get out there and do it! It depends on what you need the lawyer for. Federal law like copyright and trademark can be completed by a lawyer in any state. However, it would really depend on what you needed to determine if you could go elsewhere.

  37. I have been working as a sole prop but definitely see my business growing in the coming years and also want to ensure all of my policies are in place so I am going to walk into the next room and ask my boyfriend for the contact information of his accountant / lawyer and contact them to set up my first interview! Thank you both so much. Love and light!

    • YES!!! Steps in the right direction. I’m so happy for you!

  38. Amazing timing!! it gives me chills when things like this happen. Thank you for the great tips! I am actually setting up a business meeting with the small business development in my city to get things rolling. I also appreciate your comment on the trademark / logo copyright. Thank you again ladies!!

  39. Paul

    Interviewing for a Lawyer, do you pay a fee for that ?

    I would say no fee if they want your business and referrals.

  40. Sydney

    We have a private limited company based in a Central American country.

    We have developed world-beating software for managing stock investments. One of our programs is so unbelievable we recognize the chances of our minuscule firm successfully marketing it to individuals efficiently is remote. We plan to offer it to a major brokerage firm. They have the clients and the people to offer stocks managed by the program. Negotiations will begin after July 1.

    With that intro, we have bootstrapped our company for the past 4.5 years so we have no permanent legal advice. The quality of lawyers in this country (to remain anonymous) is awful. We realize we need solid advice in New York but face two problems: who and cost.

    I believe when companies are looking at what we have it is customary to get a deposit up front. If that is so, we will use that money to apply for a patent and pay initial legal fees. Is this possible?

    • Hi Sydney,

      Every lawyer has their own system. There are many lawyers that don’t require full payment up front and others that make you pay a consultation but deduct that from your services fees if you want to hire them for more work. You have to just interview them and see what situation is right for you.

  41. Thank you, Marie, for helping us take our businesses up a notch.

    Avoiding the legal aspect of business is often times an obstacle for growth.

    I know that for myself I’ve held back on publishing my content on the Web for fear that it might be stolen, and I would have no recourse. I’ve also turned down job offers because I didn’t understand the legal aspect of the offer and what it would mean for me.

    This is bad business! In order to go pro, I have to stop the self-sabotage and just dive in and hire an expert legal adviser.

    Thanks for the wake-up call.

    • So glad this served to help you end that pattern. Bravo!

  42. Whoa this is awesome! Thank you ladies so much for this, I am most definitely going to contact an accountant regarding my online business (I sell artwork). This topic always gets pushed under the rug so thank you for bringing it up – it’s super important to know and learn

    • Yes absolutely. I would also advise you see a copyright lawyer too someone that can help you protect your visual work.

  43. Melody

    LOL, I first heard of JoNa through Tom Jackson Productions. Nice to know I am in good hands!

  44. I just remembered that SCORE and the SBA are two great business resources.

    They both offer online and in-person seminars given by business professionals on all business related issues including legal.

    Both are government funded, so the price of their services is low to no cost.



  45. I was on your site last night before I went to bed reading and fell asleep holding my iPhone just as I was about to fill out your questionnaire, and guess what? Here you are on MarieTV this morning. Well, I just went back and filled out your questionnaire, I subscribed to your newsletter and I look forward to hearing from you and setting myself up for success.

    I love your “Why?” by the way. It’s clear that you are passionate about what you do and how you do it.

    Thanks Marie and Team Forleo for introducing us to Jo-Na!

    • Aww yay. You totally warmed my heart. I can’t wait to speak to you. Cheers to new business connections…and heart connections. <3

  46. Sno

    I always learn something from Marie TV, but this is one of my FAVORITE episodes. VERY informative. Thank you so much!

    • Awesome! Thank you so much. I am honored. I always learn something too!

  47. Just want to point out that an LLC might be right for you. Don’t rule it out.

    • Absolutely that’s why it’s so important to see a professional based on your specific situation. I would never advise anyone to jump on anything. Weighing all options is the best way to procure the best solution.

  48. Ya’ll make this sound so easy. I’ve paid two lawyers and two accountants to just freakin’ tell me what type of entity to set up and no one will commit. It’s like they’re all afraid to give me a solid piece of advice, like they’re scared they’re going to be liable if things get messed up. So I went ahead and filed an LLC, and this year we got SLAMMED on our taxes (2013) and had to pay almost 50% of our profits to the IRS. Now I have a new accountant who I think is going to help, but I’m still not sure, everyone is so wishy-washy. FRUSTRATING! Anyone have any advice?

    • Unfortunately, you really have to self-educate in this area so you can even know what questions to ask. I know, it’s very overwhelming but you are an entrepreneur and can learn. Also, don’t worry about appearing stupid by asking questions because that’s how you learn and get REAL answers that apply to your situation. And sometimes you have to really push to get answers that make sense. Stay calm and ask on. If they get frustrated with you, move onto someone else.

    • Hi there!
      I have a background (Master of Science in Tax) and have worked w/ women entrepreneurs for a long while. One of the main reasons that most lawyers nor tax professionals will commit to telling you what to do is because of the liability involved. It’s a risk management tool. If Lawyer/Tax Pro A outright tells you to file an LLC and then down the line you want to convert your business to a C-corp (not a check the box election for tax purposes but a straight up entity conversion)- you may create a taxable event that may not have been the case if you filed for a C-corp in the first case. In the event that the lawyer/tax pro’s recommendation costs someone money or creates a legal issue-that pro is opening themselves up for a lawsuit. Challenges in the corporate world trickle down to the micro and small business world.

      What you will find is that a good pro will walk you through a series of questions, take into consideration your goals, aspirations, future planned events, your family situation…& the same for any partners you have…and give you the pros and cons of each situation. Once they have listened to you & presented you with the info, they will advise you to make the best choice based on all of the information you presented them. The key is that the choice is yours not theirs.

      Best case to find the person who will give it to you raw and for you the client to be as forthright and futuristic as possible. A key indicator (for me anyway) is when someone says “if it were me in this situation….XXXXX but again, this is your decision. Right now the law says XXX, but we don’t know how things will change in the immediate, near or distant future”.

      Also, engage in a lot of scenario and what -if planning. Work with the pro to do some back of the envelope calculations. What happens if you make a profit? What happens if you run a loss? What happens if you want to sell? What happens if you want to take on a partner or buy a partner out. What happens if (God forbid) someone dies? What are the legal ramifications and the tax & financial accounting ramifications to the biz. This is where it’s good to work with someone who knows straight up TAX & FINANCIAL accounting. Hope this helps and just know that the fluidity is normal.

  49. GL

    Important subject from which I know so well. I have not always taken care of the legal properly in the past and as a result I was sued a couple of times which cost me dearly. Even a hostile take over from a so called friend. Planning and preparation legally is important. Without it there are always consequences and will cost yah in the long run.
    We must know we have all our ducks in a row, for safety and to stay in business after making our dreams come true. Living our dream is what we seek, but to potentially lose it all through being legally incompetent would be tragic. By experience it really can hurt big time of which I know so well. There is no need to let that happen with good legal help when you first start out and as you are building you dream business along the path.
    Thanks for your great show and thanks to your guest for sharing this important subject to us all on Marie TV.
    As always you are the best Marie…

    • Such a valuable lesson and story. Sometimes the most important ones come from hardships. I hope your foundation is serving you well now.

  50. We have ALL of these ducks in a row. Our attorney likes to remind us that she keeps us “In business and out of court.” These ironclad contracts and strategies have kept us out of legal trouble. It’s much more expensive NOT to have them in place than to invest in yourself and your business and put them in place. It also tells clients and contractors you’re serious. So, we strongly agree with all of this.

    • I like that line Dahna – “In business and out of court.”

      • It’s my attorney, Dar’shun Kendrick, Esquire’s, tagline. Isn’t it cool? And, she actually does that for her small business clients, too.

    • Absolutely Dahna. Having contracts shows that you take your business seriously to your clients and also to yourself. I love that “in business and out of court” sounds like you have a great legal team in your corner.

      • I do have a great attorney. But, I learned from my family of entrepreneurs to always have contracts and agreements in writing, even if it’s just email. Just get it in writing. I have a variety of formal contracts I use with vendors, contractors and clients. And, I work with other professionals to keep up with legal and tax schemes so we stay compliant with local, state and federal laws and regulations as well as UCC and other business law. It’s really important that small business owners do this because ignorance of the law will get you in trouble and it won’t be an excuse to get you out. Ignorance can be very costly. We need to invest in our businesses to protect ourselves from legal liability and show our clients we’re a serious business enterprise. Thank you for reinforcing that. 🙂

  51. This is so important to hear. Many people just jump into a LLC because they hear it most on tv and with start up companies. You need a lawyer on your team/in your corner before accidents or incidents occur. I love the backstory of Jo- Na, now she can help countless others in the music industry.

    • Yes absolutely. I love helping entrepreneurs, artists, innovators and creators like you. It’s so imperative to have a solid foundation to prevent those sticky situations before they happen. It’s all about preventative care.

  52. Wow! Great stuff here today! (Not that every other day doesn’t have great stuff) I think I’ll have to watch this again (and again?) to get the details so I can make sure my ducks are lined up.

    Thanks so much!

    • Maryjo, I am so glad you enjoyed the episode. Ducks in a row is so imperative. Thank you for watching….again and again. 😉

  53. This totally hit home for me! I learned this the hard way when I had to fire someone. Luckily, it all worked out in perfect cosmic order, but it could have been prevented. I’m working on getting all of my W-9’s collected and my lawyer is firming up all the last pieces I need for my business. I had a lot of luck with setting up my business. I contacted a former professor from my undergraduate days and he hooked me up with the head of a business incubator in a nearby city. Luckily for me, that guy knew a lawyer that he referred me to. I was really up front with the lawyer and let him know I’m tapped out with funds, that everything is going to my June 15th launch. To my surprise, he said, “I don’t always do this, but when Dave recommends someone to me, I know it’s someone I’m supposed to work with.” He put together a cost-efficient payment plan for me and is doing all of my legal work up front so I can get started and make money. The whole idea – “we want to grow with you.” I learned that all of your business relationships are just that, they are relationships. They need nurtured and you don’t want to jump into business with that you can’t see yourself working with long term. All that to say, I’m on my way and this video freaking rocks 😉

  54. This was just the kick in the pants I needed! I’m an author, and I hired an excellent VA this year, on just a handshake. Doh!!! I’ll get that W9 out to her ASAP, and put together a contract to keep things “right and tight” as Marie says. A great episode. Thank you!

    • Yes! Get it right and tight. Love that you’re taking those steps. Thank you so much for watching.

  55. This has been enlightening! I am a lawyer from Nicaragua and things are very different there. I moved to Virginia with my family (along with my entrepreneur spirit) and I really didn’t know where to start. Now I am ready to start my business again (more than ready, I am determined!) and this has come as ray of sunlight. Thanks so much for this valuable advise. Passion+ hard work+ creativity+ desire to make a difference are as essential as having the right legal advise.

    • Wow Bianca. Thank you so much. I really appreciate your comment and I am so glad you feel ready to move your business forward. I send you so much love.

  56. An often overlooked area is doing business with friends and family. I find it even more critical to have some paperwork between the parties when doing business with friends or family.

    A little bit of paperwork, keeps friends – friends!

  57. You have no idea how right the timing was for this video. I must admit… I have fallen off watching MarieTV as of late, but after the timeliness of this episode… I am back in baby!

    We have been running a decently successful business for a little over a year and still have yet to register it, because of the fear of setting up the right structure. Our tax guy was appalled! He suggested we set up an escorp. I think we will do this but do not have much in the way of funds to met with a lawer.
    Thanks Marie 🙂

    • Yay I am so glad this episode brought you back! Awesome stuff!

  58. Rachel

    So timely! 2014 has so much “new business/new path” energy to it. Just about everyone I know is launching something (me included!). This guidance is critical to success. I’m reaching out to my network right now for a small business accountant and small business attorney!

    • Yay. I am so glad that you’re getting your business team together. Awesome.

  59. As an entrepreneur and tax attorney, I’ve seen way too many smart entrepreneurs with great business models fail because they just didn’t take the time to set up a solid foundation on which to build their business. You most certainly don’t need a massive infrastructure to start off, you just need the basics – an accounting system, a business entity and contracts – and those systems will grow with you.

    It just pains me to watch business relationships crumble, because someone’s un-announced expectations were not met. That’s why I go by the mantra, “everyone signs something” in business. The contract itself isn’t as important as the contracting process, which helps to get everyone’s expectations laid out on the table to be addressed in a calm, planning environment.

    • Kyle, well said and great insight about how wonderful the contracting process is – especially for clarifying expectations!

    • Yes the contracting practice is very important and also what comes out of it as well. Good points!

  60. I’m launching a mobile app company focused on a particular niche. I’ve set it up as a LLC. I have also taken friends and family monies and want to provide shares/stock/ownership in line with each person’s investment and allows me to pay dividends to those investors for years to come.
    I need to engage a lawyer, but not even sure what to ask for, or what “vocabulary” to use … in legal terms, what is it I need???

    • Hi Julie, an LLC has members and does not carry stock. What you want to have your lawyer do is draft an operating agreement and that would include the capital investments from each one of your investors. That’s where you would start. Hope that helps. 🙂

  61. I’ve been hoping MarieTV would broach this topic for a while now! Jo-Na explains everything in such an easy-to-understand way. When I registered my biz, I reached out to an attorney. He actually answered most of my questions in a free consultation and pretty much told me that I don’t need to hire him yet. I still might hire him in the future because he was pretty helpful! Thought I’d throw this out there for anyone who is still afraid they can’t afford a lawyer.

    • Thank you for sharing your experience! Great for others to know. Thank you watching.

  62. With 1099 contractors, what are my company’s (s-corp) general liability and workers’ compensation responsibilities? Our insurance agent is saying 1099 contractors should provide us a certificate of liability for general liability and workers’ compensation. Some of our contractors are hobbyist or student musicians and actors who may not even a homeowner’s insurance policy. Do I really need to have them provide a certificate of liability to me?

    • Hi Dawn. I think this is best answered by a lawyer so they can hear your entire situation, know your business, state, etc. What independent contractors need depends on the state.

  63. LOVED this Marie and it was so helpful. Will be sure to share it with others. So much valuable information. THANK YOU both!! 🙂

    • You’re welcome Laura and thanks in advance for watching and sharing!

    • Awesome! Thanks for watching Laura.

  64. I’m working on introducing a new service (online classes) and will be contracting out to other experts. It wasn’t until I watched this video that I realized one of my biggest hang-ups is the legal aspect. I wasn’t sure where to start, so thank you very much for your incite and direction!

    • Absolutely. I am so glad you watched it and I hope that you decide to take action.

  65. Thanks for another fabulous Q & A Tuesday Marie and Jo-Na! Do you have a good resource for finding local attorneys and accountants? Is there a recommended place to start as you begin that search?

    Thank you both so much!

    • Hi Lydia, is a great place to find local attorneys. You can find their ratings and areas of practice there. Hope that helps. 🙂

      • Thank you so much Jo-Na, I will definitely check it out!!

        Anyone know a good place to start for the accountant search?

  66. One big thing to consider is whether or not you’ll be able to get a mortgage when you own your own company. I actually went back to work in an office because my family is just starting off and banks demanded to see a W-2 for us to get a mortgage.

    I’d love to know what Jo-Ná’s advice for someone in my situation would be!

    • Hi Jennifer, I believe it would depend on the mortgage company but when you’re an entrepreneur most places as for letters from your accountants and your tax returns. You will file those no matter if you work for a company or for yourself.

  67. Marjorie

    Lawyers and Cost
    I think one of the reasons people shy away from consulting lawyers is because they seem to have to re-invent the wheel each time they answer a question or provide text – where that be providing a general NDA clause or a service agreement. There seems to be an inherent inefficiency in the way that lawyers work. My accountant doesn’t have to research or otherwise “figure out” from scratch how to do my tax filing each year. Why do lawyers have to do (and charge) for their work as if neither they or anyone else has done anything similar before?

  68. This is great information, and definitely inspires me to put my big girl panties on. I’ve been looking at legal programs a lot recently, but they all seem to be based in the US. I have the name of a Canadian lawyer I will email next week. Thanks for the swift butt-kicking!

  69. Charmaine

    Does she have a list of questions that you should ask when interviewing a potential attorney?

    • Ask them about their pricing, how they work, what do they recommend you do for your business foundation for your business, things like that. 🙂

  70. Thanks so much for all of the great information. Knowledge truly is POWER.

  71. Jo-Na maybe someone asked this already on the thread yet if not maybe it will help a few of us out there. Are there any free Terms and Conditions/Disclaimer templates that starting companies can use as reference when typing up an informal page for a program or service they offer to their clients before seeking out the advice of a lawyer? Or does these forms need to be filled out by a lawyer? Do you have any suggestions and where should they go on our websites?

    • Terms and conditions should go onto a tab on your website. They can be at the bottom of site or as a tab at the top. I recommend that you go to a lawyer to get the terms so you know that they are updated to reflect the law at that time. If not you can try a site like

  72. I am a sol property ship right now. The coaching agreement. i am not a health coach but coaching around food allergies but not claiming to be a doctor or nutritionist. I know this is something I need to get in writing. Not sure how much that would.. got to look into that.

    • Yes! Good idea to get a draft from an attorney on this one.

  73. Marjorie I totally agree with you. I sort of took offense to the whole if you can’t afford a lawyer, ask a CPA or accountant. What are we chopped liver? A lawyer is the one that should determine the liability risk from an asset protection standpoint and an accountant should determine the best course of action from a taxation, growth, benefits and partner/member aspect. We are both as equally important and should be paid accordingly. If I can be of further service go to my website Terri Overall Jo Na it was great advice on a topic that most entrepreneurs want to stick their head in the sand over. Thank you Marie.

    • Hi Terri, I definitely didn’t mean to imply that CPA’s are chopped liver. I really value the work of CPA’s and I always tell people that Lawyers and CPA’s are the business foundation team that every entrepreneur should have starting off and you should DEFINITELY be paid handsomely for your services. However, most people afraid of lawyers fearing they will cost too much money and they don’t fear speaking to an accountant as much. Usually if someone comes to me an ask for advice on their entity, I will assess their liability and asset protection and make a recommendation and then tell them to talk to their CPA so they can make the best informed decision. You’re definitely valuable and should be paid well.

  74. Lori Henry

    This was a very informative episode. One of the best.

  75. Great video! What if you hire a VA that is not in the US, do you still have to ask for a W9 form from them and have a 1099 form?

    • If you have a CPA I would suggest you speak to them regarding this. When I had this question the answer was no but there are certain reporting requirements.

  76. I’m also a B-School attorney and am just launching my business startup and business law Q&A video show “Ask Karen” tomorrow. I’d love to hear any questions you’d like answered in an upcoming episode.

    Also, I wrote an ebook called Simply Startup that walks you through all the nitty gritty details of starting your own business. It’s a good resource (in my humble opinion) to help educate yourself as to what questions to ask, what issues you need to address, and also what some of the basic business law terminology even means. You can find the link on my site or on Amazon.

    Sorry to promote myself here, but I’d love to help remove this strong barrier that keeps so many of us stuck and not moving forward. I’m actually not focussing on law in my business, but it’s an area I keep getting asked about so I’ve been creating some resources.

    Awesome episode! 🙂

  77. I live in Canada and am in the process of opening a business in NYC. From negotiating my lease, registering a LLC, applying for work visas and signing on with an agent, my lawyer is the person who has helped me the most. I trust him completely, we have a great working relationship and I could not have accomplished what I have so far without him. If I wasn’t paying him, I would be paying HUGELY for mistakes.

    • I’m so glad you found a lawyer that could help you with all this. He sounds like a great asset!

  78. Such a great topic, thank you Marie and Jo-Na, so many business owners get stumped on the legal stuff and it stops them from getting started at all!

    As others have already mentioned the legal requirements are different in different countries so I thought it might be useful to mention that I have a guide available for the Aussies in the crowd:

    Thanks xx

    • Stacey Watts

      Love the site Lisa!
      I’m also a lawyer from Australia 🙂
      I was curious as to why this site (and yours) dont cover trusts or partnerships. Family trusts seem to be popular for a lot of small businesses in Aus.

      • Thank you Stacy 🙂 Thanks for visiting my site.

        Yes, I totally agree, I cover partnerships and trusts in my online program:

        My goal is to give newbie business owners enough info so that they can understand the importance of these business decisions and they can also understand what their lawyers are talking about and can ask all the right questions. 🙂

  79. Awesome tips!
    For a non-US company we have to do the research, but it’s a great idea to bring this up for us.

    The one thing I have to do: get my sales up to the level where I can use my corporation again, to feel protected – it is so much better than sole proprietorship.

    Merci ! 🙂

    • Llyane in France you have to make a certain amount before using your corporation? Interesting.

  80. Absolutely LOVED this video! Jo-Na is my lawyer and she is hands down one of the best lawyers out there!!! Not sure where I would be without her! So grateful! Thanks Marie for doing this interview and spreading the love and knowledge to so many!!

    • Aww thanks so much Kelly! I really enjoying supporting your business. Thank you so much for the love.

  81. GC Aloha

    Thanks so much for this, Marie and Jo-Na. The step I’m going to take is to start looking into the attorneys in my area who handle this sort of thing. I have two quick questions for Jo-Na:
    1. What do you call this area of law? Is it just “business law,” or is there a special name for what you do?
    2. Are you taking new clients?


  82. Pamie

    Great video and information. Thanks for the information. I am in process of deciding my business structure among many other business decisions.
    Thank you.

  83. Hi Marie,
    Since a friend of mine post you on her FB page, I have been following you and I have to say that you and your show are just amazing. I am in love with you, your style and every single advise you give us to “create the life and work that we love”… In this particular case thanks for the legal advise, sometimes it is hard to focus on the legal protection you require to push your business.

    Right now I am starting my own post-production company which is and we are working on our website. And every time I see you I realize how much I need your advise in every single detail that will make our work better.

    Thanks for all this incredible information and for sharing it with us


  84. Alli

    Here’s a question: I am a newbie at all this- haven’t even started my business. I plan to make and sell jewellery online, at farmer’s markets, and at crafts fairs. Do I need to legalise my business or can I just make and sell? Thanks for any direction at all!

    • Yes you would be a sole prop with no business entity. If I had a client like you, I’d definitely tell them to get their legal foundation set.

  85. Thank you for posting this! I am in the midst of research what I should do to file my legal entity. This information came at the right time. My question is, besides the council of a lawer and tax professional, could you do this whole thing solo? thanks again!

    • I would recommend that you have a lawyer do the filing for you, but technically you could do it yourself from a paperwork standpoint. 🙂

  86. Thankyou, a great information from real business experts advice.

  87. Delfina

    Hi Jo-Na!

    Thank you so much for the great counsel you have in today’s video. I love that you mentioned interviewing prospective lawyers in irder to figure out which one is the right one for you. Any tips on how to do this?


    • Hey Delfina, So glad you loved the episode. I would recommend that you compile a list of lawyers that you would like to speak to and then contact their offices and see if you can have a consultation.

  88. Great video!!! Thank you Marie!
    Anyone knows UK base lawyer?
    Thank you! xxxx

  89. fs

    What about B- corps?

    • I didn’t list B-corps because they are not as common as the others. Most people are familiar with C and S. 🙂

  90. This advice is priceless! Thank you so much!

  91. Thank you for the really helpful video Jo-Na and Marie! Jo-Na are there certain questions you would recommend asking when interviewing lawyers for this kind of work?

    Thank you!

    • I would recommend you ask them, what they recommend you what documents you need for your business foundation, what are their rates, how they work with their clients, are they taking new clients, do they have any experience with your type of business, do they have any testimonials , etc. Hope that helps!

  92. Great tips! I brainstormed so many protections I need to get in place for my business. Love it!

    My first step is to hire a lawyer. I talked with attorney Lisa Fraley last week and she was so helpful and passionate. As soon as I meet my income goal for the month, I will be working with her to get my legal documents in place.

    Thanks for this fabulous video!

  93. This is the perfect post and video! This is the aspect I see many of my clients forgetting to include in the beginning, and it’s probably the most confusing to get organized. Especially for creative entrepreneurs! I recommend for information and any quick filing you may need to do!

  94. My Q is… when interviewing lawyers, what are the questions we want to ask them? I know I need to do this but I’m not sure how to find a good one. Any help would be appreciated!

    • I would recommend you ask them, what they recommend you what documents you need for your business foundation, what are their rates, how they work with their clients, are they taking new clients, do they have any experience with your type of business, do they have any testimonials , etc. Hope that helps!

      • Yes it does. Thank you Jo-Na! This episode was the kick in the pants I needed! p.s. I love your pics on your website!

  95. Great topic, and great discussion.

    I’m drawn to Small Business Bodyguard for its potential to get me started on the right track. Thoughts on that? Any SBB users here?


  96. This is a great reminder that I have to get this sorted out. One thing my husband (who’s an accountant – very handy!) wants me to do is take out Professional Indemnity insurance. So, if I’m sued (despite my disclaimers), I have insurance to cover it.

    I must get onto that!

    • So great to have an accountant in the family! Yes Disclaimers and Insurance help with liability.

  97. SUPER freaking helpful. I’ve been avoiding this like the plague but my business has grown past the point of being able to ignore it. Moved to a new state – so new accountant is first step. And that non-disclosure agreement is a big oversight for me. Thank you both! – Lori

  98. Hi Marie and Jo-Na,

    This ia very valuable takeaway for me. I have overlooked the legal aspects, particularly the service contract. Thank you for providing this insight.

    • You’re welcome. So glad we could provide some insight.

  99. Kat

    I’d like to share an article I wrote with a lawyer on how small businesses can protect themselves legally. Hope you find it useful!

  100. Michelle Koert

    I put an NDA in place for two products/services for a large casino and jewelry company and had both companies manufacture and design the product/services themselves. After lawyers fees, etc., it wasn’t worth it for me to continue to pursue legal action against two huge companies against me. Does an NDA really provide any protection? I had a provisional patent on one and the other was pure services so no patent.

    • Properly drafted NDAs are helpful but if someone wants to be a jerk and rip you off, they will. However, it serves as evidence you can build a case with if you decide to pursue it.

  101. What a timely post! I am actually interviewing 2 accountants today and 1 next week. Sure, they all know how to crunch numbers, but who’s going to show the most interest in success? Who’s going to have my back? Who’s going to provide the best advice?

    I learned the hard way that going with the first person who says they know what they’re doing is a big no-no. Actually, I learned that the hard way several times! Now, I always interview at least 3.

    Wish me luck!


    • Yes Lauren good luck. Also, I suggest you get a lawyer on board too. Accountants will help you with the #’s but a lawyer can help you decide the best entity for asset protection.

      • Thanks Jo-Na! I actually had a lawyer before an accountant, lol. It definitely helps me sleep better at night. He came to me needing a website about a year ago and helped me to incorporate along the way! 🙂

  102. LOVED this episode and the information is super valuable. I’ve done some of this – but promise to get me a CPA before the end of this month! Then I’ll find a local attorney to work with as well. Business has grown and my agreements need to be updated.

    Thanks so much to you both!

    • Yay. So glad that you’re taking solid steps to ensure you’re business’s growth and protection. Bravo!

  103. Hi Marie, I always look forward to your Tuesday Marie T.V edition thank you so much. My question is not related to your last video on legal tips, however if you could help me out on a closing line for my video’s that I do for my business that would be so great. At the moment I am still working though your B-school program and through this time I have definilty become more confident in my delivery in my video’s. I open and deliver content with more confidence and clarity however I am never to sure how to close and I notice each and every time you say the greatest closing tag line if I can call it that? And I also notice other business educators do this as well. How can I find my awesome, inspiring closing tag line? Thanks so much Naomi x

  104. pravda

    Thank you MARIE!
    Thank you JO-NA!
    There was a huge information in this video.
    I live in Europe and it was very interesting for me to hear about that W-9 form.
    English is not my native language and I am not quite sure what S-corp means.
    Thanks again for sharing your knowledge and experience with us.

    • Absolutely, Pravda. I’m so glad that while the laws may not apply to you, that you found inspiration in the video! xo

  105. Great video! Marie TV is so inspiring!
    One quick question: if you set up an L.L.C. in one state, do you need to re-file if you move to another state? Or, can you set up an L.L.C. in one state then move to another state without doing any paperwork?

    • If you move to another state you may have to file Foreign entity paperwork in the state where you’re moving. Most states requires this.

  106. Wendy

    Very timely MarieTV, thank you!

    Jo-Ná – would you advise us to work with someone in our own state, or does it not matter? (I’m in Oregon.)

    Thank you!

    • Hi Wendy,

      It depends on what you need to work on. If it’s trademarks, that’s federal law so that can come from any state. If you need to file an entity a local lawyer would be best.

  107. Wendy

    Very timely MarieTV, thank you!
    Jo-Ná – would you advise us to work with someone in our own state, or does it not matter? (I’m in Oregon.)
    Thank you!

    Read more:

  108. Great information, Marie!

    You’re always reading my mind and know exactly what I need on this journey. Excited to learn more from Jo-Na and appreciate the wisdom on this episode!

    With joy,

  109. Thank you! Great tips and reminders of what we always seem to put off!
    Do you have any suggestions for finding the best attorney/lawyer for a specific field such as blogging? It seems challenging to find niche lawyers.

    Thanks for the great video and information!

    • Hi Maggie! Thanks for watching. You don’t need a niche lawyer for blogging. You would need someone that is familiar with Internet Law, preferably a business lawyer. Email me if you have more questions regarding this ok? [email protected]

  110. Thank you! Great tips and reminders of what we always seem to put off!
    Do you have any suggestions for finding the best attorney/lawyer for a specific field such as blogging? It seems challenging to find niche lawyers.
    Thanks for the great video and information!

  111. Yes, the accountant before the lawyer is needed, especially at tax time! 🙂

    Another great Marie TV. Thank you!

  112. I really found this episode helpful, I don’t have all my legal ducks in a row but it is definitely now a priority. Thanks Jo-na and Marie, it was the prompt I needed

  113. You’re so welcome Lorna!

  114. Thank you so much. Any suggestions for someone who is entering the Personal Training online business?

    • Hi Verena,

      Yes. Same foundational principles that I indicate above, however you need to have medical disclaimers on your videos, your site, contract, products and services.

  115. Kelly

    This episode was very informative!! Thank you! One question I always have and that holds me back is when your looking for say an application or software developer to bring you business concept to life should you have them sign a Non-disclosure agreement up front before discussing any details of you idea? I had approached a developer in the past and they did not want to sign an agreement. Is that a sign to move on and find one that will in order to protect my IP?

    Thanks so much for any input!!!


    • Hi Kelly,
      Yes move on. Most developers and designers are VERY familiar and will sign without issue. If they have an issue with you protecting yourself, they are not the right developer for you. Better safe than sorry.

  116. Tara

    This is great! Thanks much.

  117. Thanks so much ladies!
    2 things I am going to do are change myself from a UK sole trader to a limited company so I have ltd liability AND I’m going to update my mentoring client agreement to use some of digital signing software.
    Brilliant advice.
    Much love from the UK!
    Kimberley x

    • You’re so welcome Kimberley. Thank you for watching!

  118. Great video. For the challenge, I need to meet with an accountant and a lawyer for my new business!

  119. Thank you so much Jo-Na and Marie for this super informative video. I am been unsure of which entity to chose, so your advice is very helpful. I am building my newbie coaching biz and want to start is the right way. Love the advice.

    Thank you!

    • You’re so welcome Hope. It’s so important to get your foundations right and tight. Set your business up for success and abundance from the beginning! <3

  120. Just a big thank you to you both – xx

  121. marie….. what would i do without you? nice meeting you jo-na

  122. This might be my favorite business youtube episode I have ever watched!!! Thank you for all your insight, it really got me thinking about a lot. I had a quick question: I run a summer internship program abroad for young women. I have wonderful family and friends who promote my business and I have offered commissions. One friend earned $1,000 worth of commission from her referrals and another $300. I obviously want to write this as a business expense but don’t know how to go about it in an easy way. These “ambassadors” that get commission are normally college students and want as little hassle as possible. Any idea how to go about this? Thanks so much!

  123. I sent a thank you gift to my lawyer. I love them and they’re amazing. I always feel protected and taken care. I know they have MY best interest.

    Thank you for this video since I just sent a lengthy update to my lawyer and accountant since I’m starting a few different projects and trying to decide in which entity to create. I have an S corp for my Production work, which I haven’t done in a few years but I don’t want to close the company. And now I’m opening a different entity for my Airbnb BnB. So much info so little time.

  124. I am still left hanging on the LLC thing…Jo-Na, what is the bad part about LLC if you have children? My husband and I both have LLCs and a new baby and we seem to have done great with the IRS. Without giving me “legal advice” (or advice to go talk to a lawyer), what is the deal about LLCs that makes them a red flag in your opinion? I am curious because in all my years in business I’ve never heard this stated before, and you all did not address this “why” in the video…just said “see a lawyer” (which is obvious, but not available to me at this point…I save him for making contracts and such). Thanks for any insight! Loved your interview! xx Andrea

  125. I am closing shop on a smaller internet based business on etsy to start a new venture. In learning not only from my past mistakes made but in reviewing this video, content and similar content. I am left with the question when is it time to legally protect your business? I’m at the very very beginning stages of getting a clear grasp on my new business and what it will exactly in-tale for me and my potential consumers. I felt a little lost before but now the worry of the legality of my business affairs have me straight up freaking out.


  126. As attorney, I second all of these points! Really great article Marie.

  127. Wow. This was so beneficial. Now I know I’m doing the right thing by setting up a consultation with a business attorney instead of “guessing” which is right, a sole proprietorship, LLC or what. As an artist, ‘sole prop.’ fit just perfectly. However, as in inspirational consultant I need qualified guidance. Cool.

  128. Great stuff, thank you! All of these tips are vital for my clients to understand as they start their social impact businesses — and vital for me as well 😉

  129. elizabeth torres

    heres my husbands situation, he started his own business but the business is under his brothers name, he never put it under his name because hes an illegal with no papers. since his brother has papers the company was put under his name, but my husband has always run the company. now my husband wants the company under his name but the brother refuses to give it to him, now my question is, is there anything my husband could do legally?

  130. Erika

    Hello! I am in the process of purchasing a franchise owned blog. Am I allowed to ask for a copy of the current owner’s contract or is that confidential? Thanks!

  131. I like that you mention the importance of solidifying business relationships to protect your business and prevent sensitive information from distribution. It’s good to take the time to form those relationships so that you’re in a secure position to not be taken advantage of. That’s why I think having a business lawyer is so important. They can help you navigate your business and help protect you with their skills and expertise.

  132. My brother is wanting to start his own business one day, but he is having a hard time with the legal side of things. I like that you suggest creating a service agreement for you and your customers that names the prices and services offered. This would be really useful if the business was ever questioned in court and needed to show proof of their functions.

  133. Jaimie Johnson

    Thank you so much for this information! I was at a loss with where to start and this gives me some great insight into the right questions to ask my lawyer to get started.

  134. Susan Shearer

    Lots of things to do as I move into next phase of business.
    Made appointment to talk with my accountant
    I have three separate business entities to figure out how to move from single proprietor to a more protective entity
    Get my contractor forms updates

  135. Nice topic selection. Very very informative and this is something which actually makes sense for any organization.
    I really appreciate the research behind the writing. Thank you so much for sharing such a helpful piece of information.

  136. Great video, though I’d have to say that as a lawyer I have made quite a bit of money fixing painful mistakes that my clients’ accountants have made when they did what lawyers should have done. Its cheaper and its feels much less bad to pay to have the toothpaste squeezed out right in the first place, than to pay to have someone put it back in the tube after the fact. Same thing (x 1,000) for many of those online “legal” filing services or self-help work. Doing it right the first time will likely save a LOT of money and — more important — time and frustration and anxiety and all sorts of other ill feelings. All written business terms with business partners, or clients, or vendors, too, should be drafted by a lawyer — services contracts, sales contracts, waiver agreements, non-disclosure agreements, buy-sell agreements, and other contracts or important documents really should be drafted — or at least reviewed — by a lawyer, which I am glad was underscored in the video. Remember that no matter how smart and sophisticated a business person is, no matter how much they understand what is in a contract, no matter how much they trust the other person, they will not be able to understand what is NOT in the contract; or what implications there are in other areas of the law that emanate from what is / is not in a contract; or what other people will do in the future when uncomfortable disagreements about money arise. And they will arise. Two related axioms to keep in mind: (1) we don’t know what we don’t know, and (2) the question whether something is a legal question is itself a legal question. Put those together, and its easy to feel good about legal services as value-added, and as insurance, than it otherwise would be. 🙂

  137. Elizabeth Villarreal

    I’m looking to start my own business but I’m not ready to take the next steps legally to turn it into a legitimate business. I bake cakes and cupcakes out of my home for friends and family currently. I’d like to grow eventually and thought it would be a good idea to order business cards. Is it illegal to call myself the owner of a business that is not yet a true legal entity?

  138. Finding a tax professional or lawyer seems like good advice. That way you can determine what organization is best for you. LLC involves fees and taxes that not everyone is structured to pay.

  139. thanks for the information

  140. Nicole

    When starting a LLC with other people where each person will own the company at an equal percentage what proper documents needs to be done in order to get that on paper that the company will be run by more then one person equally? Would we need to draw up the document ourselves and sign them or can it be done through the government in some way, that way no one gets screwed and the business takes off?

  141. John Russel

    This article was realy helpful, i’ve finally decided on creating an LLC company in the US.
    A colleague recommended this site for forming my company. What do you think, should i use this company or another? please help

  142. Second mistake is the most common as well as repeated mistake most of the people just do not care about their product’s uniqueness and their product is reproduced for earning by other people. This thing can take you to the loss as your customers can be split up. To avoid this mistake or situation you can simply hire a copyright attorney.

  143. Thanks for sharing, well said!

  144. Hi there! I have a question! I purchased a dance studio two years ago and had the original owner and founder sign a two year non compete clause. That non compete clause ends next month and I found out from a student that students in my studio are being refered to her home to get certified to be an instructor by her and her daughter who both teach at my studio. When I asked I was told that she is now opening a new studio in her home basement. All of my staff are independent contractors and get to make their own schedule and were not required to sign a non compete to work for me. However, now that I have found out that she is starting another studio out of her basement and that they are client poaching already is there anything I can do to protect myself from them taking my circiculumn and clients? Thank you for your help!

  145. Fantastic post… Thank you for great tips!

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