Episode 285

Legal Requirements for Running an Online Business in 2022 with Autumn Witt Boyd

January 18, 2022

How can you follow online business laws to save yourself legal trouble as a boss? In this episode, Emily of Being Boss chats with Autumn Witt Boyd, a business lawyer and legal contracts expert. They discuss all things small-online-business legal, and Autumn shares the specific things you need to protect yourself as a business owner in 2022.

Learn More about the Topics Discussed in this Episode
This Episode Brought to You By:
"We all look at big businesses and compare them to how we run our businesses. We think, ‘they do it this way, so I must do it too.’ But mainly, small businesses can learn from their mistakes."
- Autumn Witt Boyd

Discussed in this Episode

  • What the business legal climate looked like in 2021
  • DEI’s impact on business contracts and marketing campaigns
  • Why legal affects ethical marketing and sales practices
  • Rules for digital product pricing and payment plan upcharges
  • The importance of contracts in preventing and resolving legal conflict
  • Legal requirements for starting and running an online business in 2022
  • Website accessibility issues and how to prevent lawsuits
  • Registering a trademark and other legal steps to protect your brand
  • What you can do to prepare and protect your business legally
  • Getting a privacy policy for your website in 2022 (it’s a must-have to sell online!)

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In this episode, the Track Your Metrics worksheet was mentioned. Download your copy here!


More from Autumn Witt Boyd

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[00:00:00] Emily Thompson: Do you have a plan for your business in 2022 yet? If not, it's time to get it on your calendar. What exactly your CEO day CEO days are the days you set aside to focus on creating and holding that big picture vision so that the work you do every other day is truly aligned with where you want to go. And as we switch over to a new year, it's the perfect time to host your big beginning of the year CEO day to align with your vision and make a plan.

[00:00:27] And if you need help, be sure to check out our CEO day kit, a set of tools, including seven steps to guide you through your CEO day, complete with videos and worksheets to help you through not just one, but every CEO day you ever have. Plus if you don't want to go it alone, I'm hosting this year's annual CEO day live for Kit members on Tuesday, January 11th.

[00:00:50] An all day virtual workshop taking you through each step and helping you make your plan for the year ahead. It's one of my very favorite events each year, and I would love to meet you there. You can learn more and join CEO day kit at beingboss.club/CEO.

[00:01:12] Welcome to Being Boss, a podcast for creatives, business owners and entrepreneurs who want to take control of their work and live life on their own terms. I'm your host, Emily Thompson. And in this week's episode, we're continuing our series of what do you need to know to boss it out in 2022, with an episode of what's happening in the world of creative business, legal stuff with lawyer Autumn Witt Boyd.

[00:01:34] You can find all the tools, books, and links we reference on the show notes at www.beingboss.club. And if you liked this episode, be sure to subscribe to the show and share us with a friend.

[00:01:47] Sometimes seeing someone else's path to success helps us clearly map out our own. It's why we all like a business podcast. Right? Well, I'm here to share a show for you to check out the Female Startup Club podcast, an amazing resource that shares insights and learnings from the world's most successful female founders, entrepreneurs, and women in business.

[00:02:09] And a recent episode, I loved hearing about how Michelle Grant, the founder of Lively, the lingerie and swimwear brand built and sold her company for $105 million in just three years, total boss move. So if you're looking for a new pod to inspire your next steps, listen to the Female Startup Club podcast, wherever you get your podcasts.

[00:02:37] Autumn Witt Boyd is an attorney and founder of the AWB firm a full service law firm that specializes in protecting online businesses, Autumn and her team help established coaches and course creators protect their copyrights and trademarks. Tighten up their contracts, grow their team legally and navigate sticky legal situations.

[00:02:56] Autumn also helps solo preneurs and side hustlers build their business on a solid legal foundation with customizable contract templates. You can find Autumn and Chattanooga, Tennessee hanging out with her three kids and husband reading a good book and sipping a glass of champagne after bed time.

[00:03:13] Welcome back to Being Boss Autumn. I'm so excited to see your face.

[00:03:19] Autumn Witt Boyd: I looked at the transcript from our last conversation, which was in February of 2021. I thought it was much further, much further in the past. And I saw that we talked about our year end drinks tradition, which is coming up.

[00:03:34] Emily Thompson: I am very excited about this too.

[00:03:38] So this episode is going live mid January. I think we're recording this early to mid December. And in that episode, which I'm going to go ahead and reference. Autumn was here last episode, 252. How to grow your business like a boss where I interviewed Autumn about how it is that she has grown her business, which is amazing.

[00:03:57] And we shared our end of year tradition for the past, since I've moved here, six years has been. Our last evening of work before sort of taking off for the holidays, air quotes around that. But we get together and we have drinks. I, we couldn't do it last year and that like, I canceled trips, I canceled, but like, that was the hardest thing for me not to show up for.

[00:04:23] I know it was those that, but this year we're doing it again and I'm so excited. Yeah, something to look forward to finally

[00:04:30] Autumn Witt Boyd: We're lucky Emily, that we live in the same place. And there are not a lot of online friends that I get to see in person. So lucky to have you.

[00:04:36] Emily Thompson: Thank you. Ditto, ditto, and glad to have our little traditions our end of year.

[00:04:41] By the time this goes out, we will be a month removed from that little situation. And hopefully I will not be hung over anymore why sometimes it takes a whole month. So I am excited to have you back. It has been almost an entire year since I've had you on the show. I would love to begin.

[00:05:01] And by you just giving us a little bit of an update, because I know you've done some Gracie stuff this year, how or what has been going on at your law firm?

[00:05:10] Autumn Witt Boyd: Yeah. So I did a little review. Emily is wonderful. And since the questions in advance, so I had time to think about this. So yeah, so last year, Q1 and Q2, we had this incredible influx of new clients, with our law firm.

[00:05:25] We work mostly with online course creators and coaches, they were having banner years, 2020 and 2021, has seen incredible growth in that area. So we were really kind of bananas in Q1 and Q2, and then we staffed up to meet that demand. So that was kind of my PR a lot of my work last year or this year, last year.

[00:05:46] Was meeting that need and figuring out things like capacity and budgets. And when do you need to hire the next person and can you afford it and all those things. And then after we hired up, we had a huge slowdown. I was just like, man, 2021. Yeah. So, but we are in a really nice place now where we've got everybody onboarded and ready to go.

[00:06:07] We've got a little bit of excess capacity, which last year we were all just working like crazy people. So that feels really good. And we are ready to go into kind of a marketing push for 2022, ready to accept new, perfect fit clients. The other thing that happened this year was, we moved, we talked about this last time we moved our part-time marketing person into a full-time role, Sarah Kate, and we have doubled our contract template sales.

[00:06:32] We sell a digital downloadable product. Yeah. So that is exciting. Yeah, we've doubled our, almost doubled our revenues and doubled our team. So it's been a, it's been a wild ride.

[00:06:43] Emily Thompson: Yeah. Oh man. And I also just generally know that that like staffing up piece is your face.

[00:06:51] Autumn Witt Boyd: You're not on video, but I'm making like the big guys.

[00:06:55] That

[00:06:55] Emily Thompson: is one of the largest tasks. I think that entrepreneurs growing a business, can tackle that, that whole process in staffing up in terms of hiring multiples and, or doubling your team is no joke so hard.

[00:07:12] Autumn Witt Boyd: And it is, it is, it is. There's no magic formula. Like there are some formulas you can use, but it is, things change.

[00:07:19] So trial and error.

[00:07:22] Emily Thompson: Trusting all the things. Oh my I'm. So I'm so glad to see you growing so much. And it really is a blessing to be at this place where you have a bit of extra capacity. You don't have to worry about another season of staffing up just yet, maybe in the future. That would be great.

[00:07:43] Autumn Witt Boyd: I was just doing our projections for 2022. And I'm kind of like, okay, like, I think maybe we'll need one more team member kind of, depending on how the, the pipeline goes. But we're kind of set it, love that. Yeah. So that feels really good.

[00:07:57] Emily Thompson: That is a beautiful place to be. Congratulations. Thank you.[00:08:00]

[00:08:00] I love watching you do what you do. I also got your Christmas card the other day, seeing my entire team on that Christmas card was very

[00:08:06] Autumn Witt Boyd: exciting. We just did a very boss photo shoot. Yeah. It was

[00:08:10] Emily Thompson: fun. It was amazing. It was really amazing. And so seeing that and like seeing that like physical representation of how much you have grown in.

[00:08:19] A couple of years was just mind blowing to me. I remember some of our first conversations when you were like, I think I want to do this thing. Right. And now it's a whole vibrant team. So again, like, this is almost like a, a little, a little commercial for everyone to go listen to 2 52, because an episode and that episode, Autumn shares how it is that she has.

[00:08:43] Grown her business and what that has looked like. And it's, I just continued to be impressed with, with you and what you do, and then having three kids at home,

[00:08:53] Autumn Witt Boyd: how are you doing tired? Okay. My goal for 2022 you'll laugh. I just came out of annual planning and, is really to do fewer things very well. And to.

[00:09:10] Free up some more of my personal time to be home a little bit more. And I called my husband from my planning retreat and I said, what do you think my goal for 2022 should be? And the kids were in the car with them and they were all like, we want to see you more. Oh yeah, me too. So I'm excited about that

[00:09:27] Emily Thompson: in case you needed a sign that's

[00:09:29] Autumn Witt Boyd: about as playing on the same page.

[00:09:32] Emily Thompson: I love it. All right. Perfect. Well, I'm bringing you in today to talk about what's happening in the world of small, online business, legal for everyone to just sort of get up to speed, whether you are a newbie, and you're just sort of thinking about what it looks like to, to make your business as legal as possible in all the ways that it needs to be done, or let's say, you are five, 10 years into your journey.

[00:09:57] You just want to know. What is happening in the new year, where should you be looking? What should you be preparing for? But first, before we look too far ahead, I actually want to look back a little bit at 2021 and ask you, especially that influx of clients that you had at the beginning of the year, what has been happening in the world of online and creative business, sort of law stuff.

[00:10:21] If I can call it law stuff for the past year,

[00:10:24] Autumn Witt Boyd: Yes. It was so fun to think back over, like, what are the issues we've been saying both with our clients and just, I like you and have a lot of entrepreneur friends, and we're always just kind of chitchatting about what's going on. So something that I've seen a big shift in, and I'm curious to hear your thoughts on this too.

[00:10:39] This was a 2020 event, but I feel like it has carried over is when the George Floyd murder happened and we saw the black lives matter protest. I feel like that was a wake-up call and a big shift in the online industry for a lot of people that I think it was not an immediate shift for a lot of people that has taken months and has spilled into this year doing internal work and also external work.

[00:11:03] So we're seeing a lot of people wanting to kind of bake their values around DEI into their business where maybe they like quietly had into individual feelings or values around that. Now it is become more like, oh, this is something that we want to talk about. And we want to make sure that our business practices are actually aligned with those values.

[00:11:24] So I'm sure you're thinking, how does that play in illegal?

[00:11:27] Emily Thompson: That was my next question. What does that mean for you?

[00:11:30] Autumn Witt Boyd: Yeah, so what we're seeing is, Like people looking at their contracts and making sure that they're fair and equitable. We're seeing people, looking at their marketing and sales practices and seeing like we're are we using high pressure tactics or do we have payment plans that are really, affecting some groups differently than others?

[00:11:51] We've seen a lot of talk around, for a long time, you would see these non-disparagement clauses in contracts. So you hire a coach or you joined a mastermind program or something, and you, you sign this big, long terms. You probably don't read them. And there, there could be a non-disparagement clause, which basically means if you don't like this program, you can never speak publicly about that.

[00:12:11] Which for people who especially are in marginalized groups and are maybe experiencing harm or are. Seeing things behind the scenes that are not okay. They have very much felt kind of like they had a gag that they could not speak publicly about that. So we're seeing some shifts around that. And I even, we had a client who, this was not a contract we worked on, it was kind of a legacy contract that had this type of clause and she was doing a big affiliate launch.

[00:12:38] And one of her affiliates basically said, I don't want any part of this if that's the kind of business you're running. So it it's having ripple effects in ways that maybe we weren't thinking about things or focusing on it before. So I'm thinking a lot, seeing a lot of that, something else kind of on that same topic that we worked on, with two DEI consultants, Erica Cordae and India Jackson with paws on the play who I think you're familiar with too.

[00:13:04] We worked on what's called a diversity writer. So this is like, if you're speaking at an event or if you're hosting an event and maybe you have a standard contract. But maybe one of your speakers wants to. Say, I'm only gonna participate. If you've got a diverse group of speakers or I'm only going to be a part of this mastermind.

[00:13:21] If you've got a diverse cohort, kind of things like that. Again, putting your values, putting your money where your mouth is. And so we've worked with them to kind of bake some of those things into our contract template. So that's been a really fun project that, it was kind of like us lean into our values a little bit and more people are trying to talk about this.

[00:13:39] That's that's been exciting.

[00:13:41] Emily Thompson: Yes. I love so many levels of this, obviously, but for your industry in particular, what I love about this is that you are going back and reworking the way things have been done for ever, and a lot of cases and what an amazing, what an amazing thing to be happening number one, and for, to just sort of be a part of it and help shape what, what these contracts and things look like in the future.

[00:14:04] That's super fascinating and high five. I'm glad to see that all of these things are coming out of this stuff. And it sounds like in many different ways and in many different parts of businesses, That's wonderful. What else, what else has been happening?

[00:14:17] Autumn Witt Boyd: Yeah, I think the other thing we're seeing a lot more of is a focus on, I mentioned this before, but ethical marketing and sales practices.

[00:14:25] And that also involves legal. There's a lot of people doing a lot of things in the online world that are like either coming up very close to the line of federal trade commission regulations around like using testimonials, making monetary promises about your results. Some of these payment plan, things are like borderline illegal, depending on how much of an upcharge you're charging.

[00:14:48] And so I think we're just starting to see people who maybe were like, yeah, yeah. Like I'm not worried about that now, starting to, there's now some external pressure, like people are being called to the carpet of, like that's not okay.

[00:15:00] Emily Thompson: I feel like the law is coming to the wild west.

[00:15:03] Autumn Witt Boyd: Yeah. We have been a wild west for a long time.

[00:15:05] Yeah. Yeah. So it's, as the industry grows, as there's more money and more people and more eyeballs on it, we are seeing kind of more regulation start to come. So, if you're a micro-business, I wouldn't lose sleep over this, they're going after the big fish, but I think you'll see that start to trickle down and where it becomes more.

[00:15:24] I think we all look at the big fish for how we run our businesses. Like, oh, well, so-and-so does it. So that must be the right way. So I think we'll start to see some of it trickle down to the micro businesses to.

[00:15:35] Emily Thompson: Yeah, I think so. I mean, you're right. We look up to those people and shaped what we do from them.

[00:15:41] We can learn from their sort of mistakes, I guess. And I also, I'm really fascinated. I'm really fascinated in, in some of those things coming in. Cause I've also heard some things around testimonials and that these payment plans and how a lot of the things that have been sort of quote unquote industry dangerous for a long time and the real world.[00:16:00]

[00:16:00] Right. Are illegal or at least like close to it.

[00:16:05] Autumn Witt Boyd: Yeah. I mean, we've definitely had some clients get like secretary of state complaints for like consumer protection law violation. And you do, you do not want to be on the receiving end of that?

[00:16:15] Emily Thompson: No.

[00:16:16] Can you give an example? So like either testimonials or payment plans, what is something that you see happening sort of quote, unquote, industry standard that is bad.

[00:16:25] Autumn Witt Boyd: Yeah. So the big thing with payment plans is if you offer a one-time payment price, let's say it's $3,000. If I pay in full or you'll let me pay for six months and I'm bad at math. So I'm not going to do that math. So you let me pay for six months and those payments total 3,600 or some amount larger than the one-time payment.

[00:16:45] There are rules and they're different in every state, around ha that's basically like alone that you're making and there are rules around how much interest you can charge. So if you may, if you calculate it out, like, what is that upcharge? What would that calculate to interest? It is sometimes above the legal limit.

[00:17:02] And this is different for B to C. So business to consumer, if you're selling. Of course on how to play piano or a course on how to dance, ballet, whatever, that's, there's different rules because, if you're in B2B or B to B business, entrepreneur, or business to business, that's considered to be a little bit more sophisticated buyer.

[00:17:22] So it's a different rule. I would question whether a lot of people just starting a business are really that sophisticated, frankly. Because we're all learning as we go. But so we have seen complaints even in the B2B space, which the regulations are not as tough. Saying that basically that upcharge of the payment plan is higher than the state law allows.

[00:17:45] Emily Thompson: This is why

[00:17:47] Autumn Witt Boyd: right here. This is an issue for everyone. Yeah. This goes hand in hand with some of the ethical marketing stuff that we've been talking about. That penalizes people who maybe don't have access to credit, maybe someone else who [00:18:00] has access to credit could take out a loan, could ask a friend, could put it on a credit card.

[00:18:04] Not everyone has access to that kind of resource. So then they're paying a much higher fee than someone else would. So it kind of, it's not just legal, but also ethics for sure. Sometimes doing following the law can also mean doing good.

[00:18:19] Emily Thompson: Sometimes following

[00:18:21] Autumn Witt Boyd: the law can be doing good. Yes. The pull quote.

[00:18:26] Oh

[00:18:26] Emily Thompson: my God. Sometimes you all, you heard it here.

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[00:19:35] Autumn Witt Boyd: We love all of the features of HubSpot and we've really been using it this past year to help grow our business. Throughout the holidays and into 2022, we'll be using HubSpot to set up more automation, such as chat flows and more list building tools. This will allow us to become more productive and more efficient in our time and our workflow.

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[00:20:08] Emily Thompson: Anything else from 2021 that you want to recap?

[00:20:13] Autumn Witt Boyd: Fair employment practices is something else that I'm seeing people talk about.

[00:20:16] Emily Thompson: Here we are in 2021 and we're finally there. Yeah.

[00:20:20] Autumn Witt Boyd: So another thing that I think our industry leaders talk about a lot is never hire employees. You can ha you can outsource everything to a lower cost country, that you can get someone for $2 an hour to do all your admin and

[00:20:36] I think people are realizing that is A unethical and B maybe illegal. So we see a lot of people who've cobbled together, teams of contractors who really are acting like employees. And again, this is another one where the rules are different in every state. We work with a lot of our clients on making sure they're following everything.

[00:20:53] But. If you're, if someone is working for you basically full time, you're telling them what to do, they report to you. They don't have a lot of autonomy. You're paying them hourly. Like that looks an awful lot, like an employee. And so just, I think we're seeing a shift. I think we're seeing people call out, and, get enforcement actions from the states.

[00:21:12] When they're doing this. That's another example of where following the law is also a good way to run your business.

[00:21:20] Emily Thompson: Perfect. And you're right. I mean, how many times have we heard podcasts from people talking about their, teams that they've pulled together from?

[00:21:29] Autumn Witt Boyd: I have contractors and a $10 million business and you're like, yeah.

[00:21:33] Most businesses of that size have at least a few employees like that is unusual.

[00:21:37] Emily Thompson: For sure. For sure. Okay. Wonderful. Good. So it sounds like some good things are coming out of 2021.

[00:21:43] Autumn Witt Boyd: I try, I look on the bright side. I'm like, so you do I'm I'm hopeful. Yeah.

[00:21:49] Emily Thompson: Perfect. Then looking at looking at what you are actually working with most with clients these days, what does that look like?

[00:21:57] What are you actually doing the most of? [00:22:00]

[00:22:00] Autumn Witt Boyd: Yeah. So what I have found is bosses will come to us typically when they're in a growth spurt or they have an opportunity to do something new and exciting, and they want to do things the right way. So typically we don't get the Cowboys, right. There are plenty of people out there who don't want to do things the right way, and that's fine.

[00:22:19] You can go work for somebody else or not at all. But typically they want to do things the right way, but they're just not sure where to start or they've looked for the information, but have had a hard time. Like finding a clear answer and to be fair, a lot of this, the answer is it depends on your business and what you want to do.

[00:22:36] But so we've been helping a lot of clients just kind of wrap their arms around, like where to get started. What's the most burning issue. Often they will come to us and I have an IP background. I'm a copyright lawyer by training. So I'm not throwing shade, but often people will come to us and they're like, I have this new thing I really need to.

[00:22:55] Registered trademark. And so then we'll start to talk and we'll ask questions and it turns out they're not using contracts or they've got this, team of cobble together contractors, or it always, almost always surfaces that there's other issues that they just don't even know are problems. And so we've been doing a lot of that.

[00:23:12] Just kind of high-level planning of like, where are the real risks in your business? Where could things go wrong? How registered trademark or copyright all day long, but I will tell you the problems we see are typically not in that area, they're around problems with a team member or problems with, a student in their course or a client that they're working with.

[00:23:35] And it just kind of blows up and is a disaster. And when we look at how we're going to respond to that, it's almost always, what does the contract say? Do you have a contract? And that kind of guides us. So we've been doing a lot of contracts as long way of saying, we, that that is often where we will start is either if you have a contract, making sure it's really covering the way you're doing business, your values, as we just talked about, that it's protecting you from the areas that we see go wrong most frequently.

[00:24:04] And then, if you don't have a contract, making sure you start using one.

[00:24:08] Emily Thompson: Yeah. Oh, and I do just want to like add a note here. We have lots of conversations in the Being Boss community about contracts. As he bosses coming in all the time, going, I need to do contracts. Where can I find a template? How can I do this cheap and easy and all the things.

[00:24:21] And y'all when it comes to the contracts on which you run your business, invest in custom made for you, your business and how you want to work contracts, period, period.

[00:24:35] Autumn Witt Boyd: Not in the very beginning. But once you're starting to have some predictable revenue and you're maybe at that, I don't know, 50 K do 100 K annual it's time to get a lawyer's eyes on your car.

[00:24:46] Okay.

[00:24:46] Emily Thompson: Get a lawyer's eyes on your contracts. I can not like it. I feel so much safer just operating in the world, knowing that you were in my corner and that we have good contracts and all of these things, like it is so much, it takes so much weight off. And so yeah. You and usually bosses come in and they are at this phase, right?

[00:25:04] Like. Using some contracts or trying to up, but like

[00:25:07] Autumn Witt Boyd: they say, borrow their friends. Are they getting molded? Yes.

[00:25:11] Emily Thompson: Yep. Yep. We know, we know

[00:25:15] Autumn Witt Boyd: it is. We do, we do our best. And then when we know better.

[00:25:18] Emily Thompson: Yeah,

[00:25:18] but right. But then whenever it comes to like really the contracts that your business is built off of gotta do good ones.

[00:25:25] Okay. So contracts not surprising on

[00:25:27] Autumn Witt Boyd: them, not surprising. The other thing that we have, especially lately, it's like everybody's behaving badly. We had a lot of disputes, so, we work with clients all over the. We specialize in online business so we can work, not just in the states where we're located, we don't go to court.

[00:25:47] And most of these things never go to court, but we've had a lot of just like either this client has stopped paying or this person is causing problems in my community. And now like everybody else is losing their minds. [00:26:00] I'm like, how do we deal with. Yeah.

[00:26:02] Emily Thompson: The thing you keep saying is that people have forgotten how to behave.

[00:26:06] Autumn Witt Boyd: I will say everyone is under a tremendous amount of stress. We thought this year would be better 2021. And it, in some ways has been in some ways it's been worse than 2020. So I get it. We're all tired. But yeah, people are, people are misbehaving. And so helping our clients navigate, like what does the contract say?

[00:26:24] That's where we start. But then a lot of it is just negotiation. And a lot of, especially creatives are not schooled or don't have experience with negotiation. And so that's a lot of. Figuring out. And I think it's fun. I think it's like a game. It's it's cause it's not my business. But figuring out where do you have leveraged points?

[00:26:44] What can we offer or what do they value? What do we value? What can we kind of trade to make it? So it's never a win-win people say that it's never a win-win, but how can we make sure that everybody's kind of unhappy, but nobody feels like totally no deal. Love that. We want to walk away with like everything you want it.

[00:27:03] Forget it that's basically never happens, but how can we make it so we can walk away and at least move forward and not be like simmering with anger and frustration over this thing? Because if it comes in energy, suck when you've got something like that going, I mean, we, we have had some tricky clients situations this year as we've grown.

[00:27:20] I mean, that's just growing pains. As we're figuring out our new systems and new team members, there is nothing worse than falling asleep, thinking about a client problem and waking up the client problem. Like. It's terrible. So helping, helping our clients work through that. Yeah, in a way that is the least amount of terrible, for sure.

[00:27:39] We've been doing a lot this year.

[00:27:41] Emily Thompson: I also just can't cannot, communicate the value enough that of just sending a letter to someone with a lawyer's letterhead. Like there things just get resolved a little bit faster. I find if it just is a bit more legal [00:28:00] for whatever reason. Perfect. Then let's move in then to 2022.

[00:28:06] Because new year, you've sort of seen how things have been evolving. What is coming? What do you see coming in the online creative business world in terms of the work that you do?

[00:28:18] Autumn Witt Boyd: Yeah. So talking again about, I know compliance is not sexy, but, we are see, starting to see a lot of litigation and complaints and things around website accessibility, which Emily, with your background, as a web designer, you probably know all about this.

[00:28:36] There, there are law firms that are not mine, but that are basically hunting for websites that are not compliant and filing lawsuits because there's big damages. And so we have had one client that got kind of tangled up in that, and I think there's going to be just more and more of it. And the standards are still a little gray, but there's, there's some, some pretty good guidelines that if you follow those, you're going to be pretty well protected.

[00:29:00] So I think we're going to be hearing a lot more about that. Especially since as online businesses, we, our businesses, our store, our website is our storefront. So it's really important that we make it. I mean, and another one, like ethically, we're going to do good by following the law like this. Good thing just as a business practice, for sure.

[00:29:18] I see a lot more focus on that, on how can we make our websites assessable to people of differing abilities, whether it be visual, audio, just general navigability.

[00:29:30] Emily Thompson: Yeah. Yes. I agree with this. This is something that we, that I really started. Coming into contact probably about two years ago.

[00:29:39] And whenever we did our Being Boss website refresh at the beginning of 2021, accessibility was something that we like. We went through all the filters, like all the things, making sure all the colors are like appropriate for different types of colorblindness and all of these things, we spent 20, 21 transcribing our entire library of audio so that you can die.

[00:30:01] That was quite a project. So that, so that if, if someone can not hear, they can still read and they can give the content, making it as accessible as possible. And it's something that I continue to hear complaints with in terms of, community platform. On the web that are not very accessible to anyone who has any, who needs any sort of additional accessibility features.

[00:30:26] So I think you're right. I think that's going to continue becoming or continue being a thing. Having it's going to definitely come to a head at some point in the next probably two or three. I don't love the hunting tactics that happened. I have heard some really scary things. And thinking both because you're right, your website is your storefront.

[00:30:46] And similarly, with retail, with having physical spaces, you have to have accessibility. And I think there is this interesting thing happening too, where, for the past decade you got online because it was easier and those are air quotes. Like it was easier to start a business online because there were fewer barriers to entry.

[00:31:05] And what's happening is that they're going to be just as many barriers to entry, to do online business as there is to do brick and mortar or, whatever, it looks like IRL. And I'm part of me is a little sad by that. Like the wild west is becoming.

[00:31:26] You have to work, right? You have to do the things you have to check off the boxes in order to, in order to show up and do business and have that responsibility. So I'm glad to see that.

[00:31:40] Autumn Witt Boyd: We're seeing lots of tech tools that make this much easier. Like I just did an annual planning event that with my coaches that was virtual and even on zoom, now they have like a live transcript feature that was turned on for accessibility.

[00:31:54] So I think, on the bright side, as the requirements are getting higher, it's becoming easier to comply with them. So.

[00:32:02] Emily Thompson: And there is sort of this evening out too, of like, for us able body folks, it was no beard injury to enter, but because of that, there was a total barrier to injury to anyone who wasn't, as able-bodied, as we are, or, all the things.

[00:32:20] So there's, there is that, like, we sort of take for granted that it was easy for us, but it was inaccessible by so many others. And so we're just sort of evening the playing field and there are so many.

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[00:33:25] Okay, what else?

[00:33:26] Autumn Witt Boyd: All right. We've already kind of mentioned testimonials. I'm seeing more, more lawsuits and complaints. A lot of influencers now I'm seeing like starting to get hit with federal trade commission fines around not, I'm not being forthright or honest about their content being sponsored or being an ad.

[00:33:50] Having claims in their, content that are not necessarily substantiated. So, I think that's going to, again, it starts at the top. It starts with the people [00:34:00] who are in the public eye, but it will start to trickle down. So that's something, especially if you're doing affiliate marketing or taking any kind of, if you're in the influencer or content creator space where you're getting paid to create content, you need to have your eyes on that and make sure it's not that hard to comply with, once you the rules.

[00:34:17] So, I mean, that's another thing like. It is one more thing, but it's not that heavy lift. So I think we're going to see more, more talk about that. More being forthright about when, you're not just sharing your opinion, you're sharing something that someone paid you either. You're getting a commission on the back end or you're getting paid on the front end.

[00:34:35] So I definitely see some movement there. Nice. And you're seeing that at all in your space, Emily?

[00:34:41] Emily Thompson: Yes and no. And mostly, I feel like I'm mostly surrounded by people. Tell you that they're getting paid for things. So I haven't seen those sorts of things, but I have heard things about testimonials. And so, there are things that whenever you're putting testimonials, it's easy to put that claim of that person who just like a total diehard fan of superstar, right.

[00:35:02] That's like the biggest testimonial use it everywhere. But if it's, claims that cannot be easily replicated or what are the, what are the sort of terms with testimonials.

[00:35:12] Autumn Witt Boyd: Yeah. So I think a lot of people think they can just put a disclaimer on the test, like results, not average or something like that.

[00:35:18] But that is not true. That's part of it, but what the rules really want you to do is be using kind of your average Jane's results. And if you're not sharing the average Dane results, you have to be real clear about what your average results are. So let's say you've got a superstar in your program who made 50 grand after they went through your online course, you can totally use their testimonial, but you got to put at the bottom what the average is.

[00:35:43] Was earning after that. And that means you've got to track it, which a lot of people are not doing. And you've got to make sure you've got good records. If there's ever a question like. So it's just trying to, again, we're trying to be transparent. We're trying to be honest. We're not trying to hide the ball.

[00:35:58] Like testimonials can still be really powerful and you can still totally use them. We just need to make sure that we're being honest with them. Yeah.

[00:36:05] Emily Thompson: In a way that I have seen some people not working around this necessarily. Kind of is using review features on your website. So instead of posting the, shine, most shining testimonial and said open up to reviews, the upside is that people get access to anyone's crazy results, right?

[00:36:25] The downside is that someone didn't like it, you also are sharing those, but again, what we're doing here is sort of leveling the playing field, right? We're taking out the curation so that what you see is more, a real representation of results, as opposed to the one or two that did something amazing.

[00:36:42] So, so that's a way that I'm seeing a lot of people sort of go beyond that.

[00:36:47] Autumn Witt Boyd: And I think especially in a higher volume business where you've got. A lot of customers. That's great.

[00:36:52] Emily Thompson: Yep. I also love the idea of someone sharing and their testimonials section. Like a couple, one star reviews. Right.

[00:37:00] Autumn Witt Boyd: Just let people see.

[00:37:01] Emily Thompson: Just put it on there.

[00:37:03] Jane didn't like it

[00:37:05] Autumn Witt Boyd: it wasn't if you're like Jane. Yeah. Might not be for you.

[00:37:11] Emily Thompson: I love that though. That's transparency. Y'all you also got a one-star review. Yeah.

[00:37:18] Autumn Witt Boyd: I will say, I don't know about you, but anytime someone's really unhappy, I take a hard look at that. And I always, I mean, sometimes there are people you just can't make happy and that's like, God, bless and go.

[00:37:28] But there's always a kernel of truth in there of like something you could have done better or a process that was a little weird or, something you didn't handle the best way. So yeah, for sure,

[00:37:39] Emily Thompson: for what it is, they are valuable as well. Yes. Most sometimes. Most also most. Okay. Anything else for 2022 that you see coming?

[00:37:50] Autumn Witt Boyd: No, we've already talked about some of the other things. Yeah. I think we're going to see more of this ethical focus on ethics. I think I'm hearing it a lot in the online industry. I don't know if you are, but I think we're gonna, I think we're just gonna continue to see that complying with the laws and doing the things the right way is part of ethics.

[00:38:06] Emily Thompson: Yes. Another thing that I'm seeing or the times in which I may have been in contact with you most often, I imagine needing to continue having support. Isn't people stealing things around the

[00:38:23] Autumn Witt Boyd: webs, ongoing never-ending ongoing, nothing new,

[00:38:28] Emily Thompson: nothing new, but I do feel like it's becoming it's happening at a volume.

[00:38:32] That it has never really in, because again, more people on the internet bored it's easier way easier to do so things like, stealing RSS feeds for podcasts and claiming it's their own, or like those sorts of things. Those are the kinds of things that my team are like we are watching. And we're shutting down fake feeds all the time and, Monitoring trademarks and those sorts of things.

[00:38:57] I feel like, I feel like over the past, probably nine to 12 months, we've done more monitoring and shutting down fake shit. Then in all years combined previously. So I feel like that's just going to continue being a thing too. And is one reason why one I'm so glad I have a trademark. Cause then I could just walk up in there and be like, oh, here it is.

[00:39:20] Right. And to that. I don't, I guess I have the team and resources to just manage. Cause y'all, it is tiresome. Sometimes I definitely up in the middle of you go to sleep thinking about this. I'm up in the middle of the night, looking at anchor to see who's ripped off my RSS feed lately.

[00:39:37] Autumn Witt Boyd: Yeah, well, I, you make a good point because like I said, a lot of people will come to us and they want to work on a trademark as their first project.

[00:39:44] And sometimes we'll kind of put them off because registering the trademark is step one of a hundred steps to actually protect your brand and you have to have the capacity and the finances to take all those other steps to monitor what's going on in the marketplace to send cease and desist letters or to file take down notices.

[00:40:04] It's kind of a never ending game of whack-a-mole once you have, it feels like it. Yeah. It's like you whack one and it pops up in another.

[00:40:12] Emily Thompson: Exactly.

[00:40:14] Autumn Witt Boyd: Yeah. And so it is, it's an ongoing and it's a big project and it doesn't necessarily make sense for every business to spend that much time and energy on it.

[00:40:22] But you do reach a level where your brand becomes really important. I think Being Boss is certainly one of those. Yeah. And, and, the calculation changes a little bit.

[00:40:31] Emily Thompson: Right? Yeah. And for us too, it's not even just like the brand, but, and for so many people and I'm the content is the content being stolen.

[00:40:40] And so, and so I think as more people are coming online, quitting jobs, doing the online business thing. They don't know the rules. They don't know that you don't show up and do these things, or yeah. You read an article about how you can lift that thing and use it as your own, but like bad news bears.

[00:40:58] But, I think, I think that's going to continue being a thing. I think we're going to have like a wave.

[00:41:08] It's like trying to think of a wild west reference. It is not working well. I have anything but surfing. Right? Right. We're going to have a way that we are surfing. We're going to have a wave of that. Another one, because it's happened a couple of times over the years and that's always been something that's something that I enjoy having been, in this, in this world for 15 ish years now.

[00:41:30] Watching these interesting sort of cycles happen in the online world where, people flood in and everything's sort of chaos and everything's sort of like, dive back a little more orderly and then there's another wave. And I feel like we are just sort of at the top of, of this wave. So chaos at the moment.

[00:41:51] It's our jobs to sort of hold you literally yours is to hold the law.

[00:41:55] Autumn Witt Boyd: Yeah, I just help. Well, I'll tell you something we're dealing with. I mean, on a personal note, is impersonator accounts on social media. Yeah. That there must be some tool out there that like allows you to kind of scrape someone's social media profile and then basically create a new profile with all of their content.

[00:42:14] And so I think you've definitely alerted me to some cause because.

[00:42:19] They,

[00:42:20] Autumn Witt Boyd: they keep your tags. And so like, they'll post a picture of me and Emily and I've tagged Emily. And then Emily sees like, this random new account has tagged her. She's like, so, but they're all Bitcoin for me. And it is true whack-a-mole and the social media platforms are not very helpful of getting it shut down.

[00:42:41] Like we can shut down the individual accounts and then it's like 10 spring up in their place. So that has been a frustration. The law is kind of limited in what you can do because I'm not filing a lawsuit against all these people that are calling Russia or something like who even knows where they are or what they're doing.

[00:42:56] Right. But the, like the reality is the law is way behind the reality of what is happening on the internet right now in that space. So that is a frustration that I wish I had a solution for. I'm hoping that the social media platforms will continue to refine their tools as far as reporting and shutting down these copycat accounts.

[00:43:16] It's really frustrating. So, if you were experiencing that you weren't even the lawyer can't get it taken care of happening

[00:43:25] Emily Thompson: to Autumn deal. No, I have seen this alive, talked to many bosses over the past year or two that this indeed just keeps happening and it's, whack-a-mole, that's exactly what this is as well.

[00:43:36] And it's interesting. There are so many places in the online world where. It is still the wild west. And I feel like that is, there are no laws. There's no like, or there's no real backing to assist us and, and, containing.

[00:43:52] Autumn Witt Boyd: Yeah. And you got to figure out, like, where are you going to put your time and money and energy?

[00:43:56] What's, what's actually important. What's actually gonna move the needle. Right? These copycat accounts are not really having an impact on anything.

[00:44:01] Emily Thompson: Right. I have actually heard of a couple of people who, who have had. Instagram copycat accounts created. And then whoever creates them, it goes ages, all of their followings, trying to like, get them to come join this thing or let me do a reading for them or whatever it may be.

[00:44:18] And then, so they're scamming all of their foot. Right? Yeah. Then things get real gross. Real gross. So, yeah, I feel like as we. As we are experiencing this wave. And as we are all becoming no more boss in our businesses, and this is really our livelihood and we're doing it. And like the whole online world supports us.

[00:44:38] And there's a bridge between online and offline. And this becomes like this continues to become a very viable way for you to build a career for yourself. It is becoming more important, I think for all of us to have all of these things in place. To have someone in our corner to assist as needed, and all of these things.

[00:44:58] And I definitely, and with complete transparency, these sorts of things legitimately takes up a good bit of my time. Like as an entrepreneur who is protecting and trademark and trying to keep the, thieves away, whatever you want to call them. It's, it's something that you have to, you have to. I don't know, start making space for, at some point, if you want to play in this, there are low barriers, injury y'all, but it is still kind of the wild west.

[00:45:28] So you got to defend your livestock.

[00:45:30] Autumn Witt Boyd: You're taking this all the way over doing well. Okay, sheriff,

[00:45:39] Emily Thompson: I feel like you're my sheriff. I'm just the mayor. I'm here for that. I love it. Okay, then, in

[00:45:49] what way? With all of that in play. In what ways should we be preparing? What can we be doing as bosses? Looking for preparing for what do we need to do?

[00:45:59] Autumn Witt Boyd: Yeah. So I've already kind of mentioned it, but contracts is almost always where we start. So that is what I would recommend. Look at your number one money maker. That's where we usually start. You may four or five different things you do, there is probably one that makes you the most of your money.

[00:46:14] So we look at that and make sure that you've got a really solid contract around that. You don't have to hire a lawyer to create a contract. There are great templates out there. We sell some other people, sell some, encourage you to find a contract template shop that is in alignment with what you actually do.

[00:46:32] So if you came to me and you told me you were like a Reiki healer, I would say, I don't have a great template for you. Maybe you go find someone who specializes in that who really knows the ins and outs and the issues. So contracts, contracts, contracts. That's where I would start. And then as you are looking at your whole year, making sure you have at least a little bit of legal budget set aside.

[00:46:56] So it could be $500 and maybe that's, one or two templates, if you are just getting started, it could be thousands of dollars if you're further along, because it is a cost of doing business. And it really hurts when you're not prepared for it. But if like, okay, I'm probably going to have some issues I may need to call a lawyer or I may need to have a strategy session.

[00:47:15] I've got a little money. Put aside, or I know this is the year I am launching something new and we're going to register the trademarks. I really want to protect that, just going ahead and figuring that out, putting a little money aside for it. So it's not a surprise. It's one of those non-sexy expenses.

[00:47:30] I know. But, it can really make a difference in your business.

[00:47:35] Emily Thompson: Yeah. Oh, and I just want to highlight this budget for legal. Is cost of doing business. I feel like creatives especially will tip toe their way around legal all day until it ends up costing them so much money. But if you want to show up and do business,

[00:47:56] Autumn Witt Boyd: It's just like paying your taxes.

[00:47:58] Yeah. [00:48:00]

[00:48:00] Emily Thompson: A hundred percent. A hundred percent so good. Okay. Perfect. And then is there one thing that every boss should have squared away right now moving into the new year, other than contracts?

[00:48:13] Autumn Witt Boyd: I would look at your website and make sure you have a privacy policy. That is a legal requirement. It's required by California, but it everybody's new in business and all the places.

[00:48:24] So make sure you've got that locked down. It will also, if someone lands on your website and like, it just makes you look very legit in addition to being compliant. So that's the other thing. Again, you can use a template. You do not need to hire a lawyer to do your privacy policy. But the law changed in 2018.

[00:48:40] So if you haven't updated your since then probably also time for a little refresh.

[00:48:45] Emily Thompson: And if I'm not mistaken, I think some even payment processors will not allow you to collect money on your website without a privacy policy.

[00:48:52] Autumn Witt Boyd: Yeah. And lock it. And Facebook will reject your ads if you're sending people to a landing page without a privacy policy.

[00:48:59] [00:49:00] So there's other repercussions for sure. Yeah. Okay. Easy. It'll take you 30 minutes and then you can like check that off and you don't need to worry about it for.

[00:49:08] Emily Thompson: Yep. I also love that. We just made it through a whole conversation on legal without bringing up GDPR

[00:49:13] Autumn Witt Boyd: at the time. Almost. I just

[00:49:15] Emily Thompson: did. We had a vault.

[00:49:16] I know, I know. As you were saying, and I was like, here we go. But like, we finally evolved past that a little bit, a little bit. So glad, so glad we were making it to the next steps. Perfect. This has been a treat to talk about this. I feel like I even have some things I need to go check on. Just sort of like task the team to look at some things.

[00:49:36] Because you're right. This is in like cost of doing business in both money and. Yeah, right. Like you have to spend time making sure that your ducks are in a row. Because there are people who will come after you, who will stop doing business, who will attempt to cancel. You have all of these things are being overlooked, because you didn't bother to make the time.

[00:49:56] Not necessarily that you are a bad person, who's doing bad business, but that you didn't bother to take the time. To learn and do business correctly.

[00:50:05] Autumn Witt Boyd: To you should be like reviewing again for that main moneymaker. You should be looking at that contract maybe once a year and just like making sure we I've been guilty of this myself a hundred percent.

[00:50:14] Like you change your offer, you change how you do things and you don't change it. Then you get, have an issue. And you're like, oh, that doesn't even make sense. Like, I don't even know how we're going to deal with this. Yes time. Some of it is not expensive. It's just taking a little time. Absolutely.

[00:50:28] Emily Thompson: Perfect.

[00:50:28] Autumn, this has been a treat. Thank you for coming and sharing all of this stuff with us.

[00:50:33] Autumn Witt Boyd: Thank you for letting me geek out on all the legal stuff.

[00:50:35] Emily Thompson: Any day. Any day. I'm looking forward to, I'm looking forward to our cocktails next week. And then now that this is coming out officially 2022, I'm also going to go ahead and start looking forward to it next year as well.

[00:50:45] Autumn Witt Boyd: Yes.

[00:50:48] Emily Thompson: Mine as well. Perfect. So to wrap up, where can bosses find more about you and what you do and that amazing contract template store you have?

[00:50:57] Autumn Witt Boyd: Yes. So all the things you can find me on social I'm, [00:51:00] Autumn, Witt, Boyd everywhere. You can find our website. It's my initials. AWB firm.com. You can find the contracts.

[00:51:07] And if you are a business owner, that's further along looking for one-on-one legal support. You can find info about that at the website as well.

[00:51:16] Emily Thompson: Perfect. And last but not least Autumn, what's making you feel most boss?

[00:51:21] Autumn Witt Boyd: Well, I have to say we've been talking about it, but the freedom and ability to have a cocktail date with a business person.

[00:51:29] Taking a half day off in December to do that is pretty boss. Yeah,

[00:51:33] Emily Thompson: I agree. I oh, thank you. Thank you, Autumn.

[00:51:38] Autumn Witt Boyd: I agree perfectly. We didn't mention, we had poolside. We'd actually didn't have drinks, but we had a poolside date earlier this year.

[00:51:43] Emily Thompson: We did, we've done pool side. I feel like we did something else at some point as well.

[00:51:48] We had porch early.

[00:51:49] Autumn Witt Boyd: Yes. Early in 2021. We were only doing things outside.

[00:51:53] Emily Thompson: Yep. By the way. No, it has been so nice. It's so nice to happy around Autumn. I'm excited to [00:52:00] see your face again.

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[00:52:50] Now until next time, do the work, the boss[00:53:00] .