If you’re an online entrepreneur who’s wondering how to tackle the task of protecting your business from a legal standpoint, then this episode is for you! I’m joined by Natalie Puglisi, a small business attorney and resource for online entrepreneurs. Natalie specializes in the online space. And I enjoyed learning about her passion for empowering female entrepreneurs to legally protect themselves, which leads to their empowerment to run their businesses successfully.
Having owned her own firm for about a decade, Natalie was able to share tons of insights and recount her experiences in helping online entrepreneurs overcome the common misconceptions of getting their business in order from a legal perspective. If you find yourself ready to tackle the legal necessities of owning an online business and to protect your podcast but you’re not sure where to start, we delve further into it below and on episode 56: How to Protect Your Podcast: A Legal Guide for Podcasters with Natalie Puglisi.
As mentioned above, Natalie is a small business attorney and resource for online entrepreneurs. She’s owned her own firm for about a decade, but that’s not how she got her start nor is it where she envisioned her career taking her when she first started out. She worked for a bankruptcy firm at the start of her legal career.
When the owners of the firm told her they were planning on retiring and shutting the firm down, she actually had no desire to own a business of her own. However, the universe had other plans. She soon found herself starting her own business.
Her experiences at the bankruptcy firm left her feeling rewarded – she enjoyed seeing the transformation her clients went through once they got the legal help they needed. That was part of what inspired her to help online entrepreneurs and podcasters alike to gain legal control over their own companies.
Natalie explained that even as a lawyer herself, when she started her own firm it was intimidating to get her legal business documents in order. For online entrepreneurs, Natalie has faced the struggle of business owners finding the task of getting their company in order from a legal perspective to be overwhelming and confusing.
While this is an understandable fear, it doesn’t diminish the importance of getting your legal ducks in order, if you will, which is where Natalie comes in. She has the ability to simplify the process and show business owners that taking control of the legal aspects of their company is not that scary after all!
Another common struggle for Natalie is that many clients have the misconception that handling the legal aspect of their business will be too expensive. Natalie debunks this myth, explaining that handling the legal aspect of an online business is much more manageable and affordable than many would initially think.
Natalie shared with us what legal issues are common for online entrepreneurs. She noted that while she has clients that absolutely crush it in what they do – bringing in seven figures on an annual basis – that doesn’t mean their business is sound from a legal standpoint. She said there are people like this that “haven’t gotten around” to handling their legal paperwork who end up running into an unwanted legal issue.
But what kind of issues can come up? Natalie explained that the moment your business is live and you have a website or begin posting online, you’re gaining exposure that leaves you vulnerable to legal issues if you haven’t taken the right precautions. She shared with us that many online entrepreneurs have the mindset that they’ll get some traction in their business first, attain some clients, and then handle the legal stuff. But, the consequences of not handling these things proactively can be costly.
For instance, lawsuits are always a risk when you’re not legally protected. Another common issue is not having the right legal backing to get paid by your clients. If you don’t have the right contract in place denoting monthly payments from clients and then they don’t pay, it’s really hard to successfully go after that missed income.
Another issue that Natalie raised is that she’s seen clients who haven’t legally protected their brand correctly or soon enough. To safeguard against this, Natalie suggests Googling everything they want to do for their business for trademark purposes and running everything through the USPTO database. Any business with the same or even similar or conflicting aspects of their business can pose a legal risk to your own, so this is an important step to take and to get help with.
Protecting your business requires you to find quality information and service from a legal standpoint. Natalie shared that online entrepreneurs should find an attorney that specializes in the online space. Working with someone who works solely in this space means that they’ll have a clear understanding of any and all scenarios your business may face legally and will be able to help you build contracts and self-protection from there.
More importantly, online entrepreneurs should find someone that they vibe with and connect with when choosing to work with them. This applies to a lawyer and anyone else providing a service, really. You’ll want someone you feel comfortable working with and are able to trust in ensuring your business is in order legally.
In working with her clients, Natalie aims to break the stereotype that attorneys usually face. She’s committed to breaking that “stuffy” and “corporate” mold and wants to be a relatable person for her clients. She explained that she approaches her business from a spiritual perspective who wants to help her clients set the right energetic boundaries with their own clients.
Another important topic covered in my conversation with Natalie is how often online entrepreneurs need to reevaluate their legal needs. She suggests doing this at least on a yearly basis around the time that you’re completing your taxes.
Especially if you’re using legal templates, you should question whether they’ve been updated and whether they’re still compliant. Many of these templates have fine print, denoting that they’re “not a legal service”, meaning that they’re not held to updates ensuring that they meet current laws.
Natalie shared with us that she offers a range of legal templates for all different types of businesses in the online space. These come at affordable prices that can be paid in installments, even, making it easy to protect your business and content.
Finally, Natalie and I covered how to legally protect podcasts and their content. She discussed again how important it is to think through the trademarks of your podcast. You should always check whether the name of your podcast is in use by anyone else, or if it’s already been trademarked. If it hasn’t, you’ll want to trademark your name yourself. Doing this prevents brand dilution, which is important as you grow an audience and expand your reach.
Another important part of protecting your podcast is creating a speaker or guest agreement to be signed by anyone who comes onto your podcast. This is required in some states, but even if you’re operating in a state where it’s not required, it’s still worth covering your bases. Because you’re recording a guest to be used in a public forum (your podcast), this agreement is important.
Having this agreement in place also works to protect the content you put out on your podcast. It gives you the control and freedom as to what can be done with it, which is important! You work hard on your podcast, so having this control in place makes all the difference in empowering you to use it as you see fit and however it will best benefit your business.
Remember that you’re a CEO, which means that you are ultimately responsible for your company. With that being said, there are ramifications for not putting the right things into place from a legal perspective. I’m so glad I got to sit down with Natalie and gain some insight into her knowledge of the legalities of the online space and how we can all better protect our businesses.
Thanks so much for listening to CEO PWR The Podcast – I hope you learned as much from Natalie as I did! I’m looking forward to connecting with you via the links below and to having you back here for the next episode of the podcast.
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