March is Women’s History Month, and we’re celebrating by highlighting some truly bad-ass women in business. Here’s our third installment!
Kelli Jones is a licensed attorney and online business owner who offers trademark services, contract templates, and more for entrepreneurs, small businesses, and coaches. Her goal is to make the legal side of owning a business way less boring—and she certainly does that through her entertaining (slightly spicy!) and educational social media content.
Kelli sat down with our founder Jen for a recent episode of Served NEAT. Jen picks Kelli’s legal brain about trademarking, contracts, and ethics, plus she asks Kelli about three sticky situations, including what to do when a client doesn’t pay you.
5 Top Takeaways from Lawyer Kelli
- Contracts matter: Budget $400-$500 for contracts when you’re starting out in business, depending on your business. Lawyer-drafted templates are a budget-friendly way to protect yourself early on without having to spend thousands on custom contracts. Also, don’t skip the contracts. Using a contract is the best way to protect you, your business, and your clients.
- Trademark DOs: Definitely trademark things in your business that you’ll be using for the foreseeable future (versus names, logos, etc., that you’ll only be using temporarily), including your business name, product or service name, or course name. You should especially consider trademarking if the name or logo is something you really don’t want someone else to use. A trademark can be one of your best business assets! It takes a long time (a year or more) to get a trademark, so if you’re thinking about trademarking, start the process ASAP.
- Trademark DONTs: Definitely do not try to trademark a super descriptive mark (e.g., Hot Dog Stand), because it probably won’t work. (Although Kelli says she’s seen some crazy things!) Conduct a free trademark search on the USPTO’s website and then hire a lawyer like Kelli to help you do a more comprehensive search. Trademark lawyers draft an opinion letter on a mark’s chances of going through, they help you file, and they help you navigate the process through to completion.
- Communication is the best policy: The easiest way to handle a breach of contract is basic communication, and that should always be your first line of defense. The contract is there and can be enforced if communication falls through. If that happens, you’ll need to weigh the pros and cons of taking legal action against the other party.
- Invest in legal early: Be proactive about handling the legal stuff in your business. If you’re just starting out, it can be really hard to prioritize the legal side of things, but investing in the basics early on can save you tons of money in the long run. Consider, for instance, the cost of trademarking your business name right away versus the cost of rebranding or fighting a legal battle for your brand name a few years down the line.
Want to hear the whole interview? Listen to the podcast episode here!
If you’re ready to take action in your next level of business, book a call with us!