I had been connecting with industry leaders for a few months, really making a push to get to know some of the top influencers and companies in the fitness industry. I had this itch to figure out what the heck they needed from an attorney. This was of course, before I launched my firm and set out to serve these individuals on a legal level. That said, I had connected with the great people of Pardomas, a multimedia company that had a huge presence in the fitness industry.
As the story goes, a connection turned into a friendship and eventually I was asked to speak at a Pardomas live event. These events focused on fitness, health, and wellness influencers and entrepreneurs. The goal of Pardomas is to teach those immersed in the industry to “be their own idol” in the pursuit of building their dream careers within the realms of fitness. A lofty goal in this day and age, but a message that I could not back more. So of course I said yes!
What stuck out the most:
First and foremost I realized that so many people wanted to simply make an impact. If they could change just one life they’d be happy. Some attendees desired to teach the basics of fitness to people who had never stepped foot in a gym, while others were interested in helping people learn proper nutrition to fuel their bodies. Overall, I could tell that each and every one of these attendees was a good, no great, person, with dreams as big as you can imagine. They were motivated, had really unique ideas, and were ready to put them into action.
What happened when we talked business:
Now, I am not Gary V or Tim Ferris but I know a little bit about getting a business up and running. I also know the importance of having an attorney by your side when you do this.
You know what the attendees of the workshop knew about the legal side of running a fitness business? Basically, nothing. In fact, most of them didn’t even use a contract with their clients.
Cue the palm to face.
As much as I loved these entrepreneurial fitness fanatics, I was a little surprised how little they knew about the legalities of running your own business.
What they were most interested in:
I gave a presentation on the most important things I think a business needs to do when starting out, and how to keep your assets protected. It was fun to talk about the law in a way that they understood and could relate too. I was asked quite a few questions which I loved. Here’s what the top three concerns were.
- What is a business entity and why do I need that?
- Are contracts enforceable if a non-attorney writes them?
- How do I ensure no one takes my content, and what are my options if they do?
I plan to keep these answers brief because I do have other related articles that cover these more in-depth if you just click back to this page you can find them all. But, for the sake of time, I will recap here.
1. A business entity is simply an organization registered in the state of your choice to conduct business separately from the individual owner. There are multiple types of entities, and what you pick will depend greatly on your business, the situation, and how you want to handle taxes. But, for our purposes I want you to register your business entity to shield yourself from personal liability. Essentially, if you get sued and lose, your personal assets will remain protected. Only the business assets might be affected. That is good to know right!?
2. A contract is totally enforceable if YOU and not an attorney writes one up! In fact, I encourage you to do some research on the basic principles of contracts. My website and YouTube channel can offer some insight there. But, if you draft the contract in a word document and have the other party sign, then if it fits the standards of a valid contract it is! An attorney drafted document is not one of the requirements of validity. So if you are entering a relatively simple deal, I encourage you to research and draft your own contracts when you are first starting out.
3. A great way to keep people from stealing your content is to let people know you are asserting your rights in it. So in general when you create something that is copyrightable or eligible for trademark registration you have the common law rights to that work whether you register it or not. One way to put people on notice of this is to use the copyright and trademark symbols. A really great explanation of each can be found on this site. By using those symbols you are telling people you own it, and that if they try to steal it and use it for commercial purposes or pass it off as their own you will not take it lightly. I also suggest that registering your brand name/logo with the USPTO so you have an actual registered trademark is a top priority if you’re doing business online. Registration provides a whole host of benefits and it is something I encourage everyone to explore with the appropriate legal help. Which, if you haven’t noticed, I love to help with trademark registrations. Shameless plug.
That said what do you do if you find a thief? There are multiple options- all of which I outlined in a recent YouTube video if you’re interested check it out here. But the main goal is to send a cease and desist letter in a few different steps to get the person to stop using your content. You can also file a DMCA takedown notice with the website host and if you’re right, then they’ll take it down for you!
What to do now:
After the workshop I felt confident that each attendee has a better idea of what they needed to do in order to get their business set up, protected, and growing in the right (legal) direction. It was awesome.
Workshops are a great way to connect and learn from one another. I learned what the industry as a whole was missing— a legal voice— and they learned what their businesses were missing. I am looking forward to the next workshop I have the honor to speak at!
If you set up, or run workshops in the industry let’s connect, I would love to talk with you!
Please note that this is not meant to be legal advice for you or your situation, this is merely some legal research and knowledge on the given topic.