“A lot of people think, ‘Oh, I’m not selling anything yet, I don’t need to worry about any of this stuff.’ But you do.”
Autumn Witt Boyd is an award-winning intellectual property lawyer who works with online business owners to protect their brand, content, and business.
When it comes to intellectual property and business strategies, Autumn is known as a thought leader in the online business community. She speaks frequently at conferences, seminars, workshops, and appearing as a guest on podcasts hosted by other experts and business owners.
And I’m so thrilled that she was game to spend time with me to talk about some of the most pressing basic questions that you’ll need to consider as you start your business (whether it’s on the side or not) or a freelancing career.
Highlights of Episode 118
- The single most important thing you have to do when starting a side business, or starting a freelancing/consulting career
- What to consider when starting a project with a colleague or a friend
- What you need to put in place if you’ve created a website, even if you’re not selling anything yet
- Why a contract is important even when you’re offering your services for free
- Do you tell your boss/employer about your side gig
Mentioned in this episode
- Free Guide from Autumn Witt Boyd: Five Terms You Need to Have on Your Contract
- The Legal Roadmap Podcast
- Contract Templates
- The Second Breaks Newsletter (see below)
Here are a few highlights from this conversation:
Please note: As Autumn mentions on the podcast, she is a Tennessee-based lawyer. And none of these should be considered legal advice. 🤓
I think even if you’re doing it for free, it’s really important to set that expectation for both sides. This is what I’m going to do. This is what the next steps might look like. This is how we’re going to end. This is how we know when we’re done. Just some things to think through.
When you are a new business owner, especially if you’re side hustling, I don’t think that the first couple thousand dollars you should spend should be on hiring a lawyer. It doesn’t make any sense. Your risk is very low. Lawyers are expensive. It’s time-consuming for everyone and frankly, you don’t really know enough about how you’re going to work with clients or what you’re going to be doing. You just need something basic.
Borrowing (and using) your friend’s contract is okay in the beginning. Something is better than nothing. And then think about up-leveling. Maybe you do a couple of projects and now you’ve got a little revenue coming in. Then maybe you buy a template that’s made for the kind of business you have. So that you’re sure. Okay, I at least know that I’ve got my basics covered.
People come to me and they say, “We’re really good friends and we want to stay good friends. And so we need you to help us work through what can be really tricky conversations.” And you’re almost like a third-party neutral mediator. Not that they’re in disagreement, but just kind of helping them work through some hard conversations.
Most lawyers are not tax experts. I would honestly say start with a CPA because of the tax issues. The legal issues are really pretty simple for most, especially if you’re just a one-person company. Most people can really set up an LLC or corporation themselves.
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