Owning a wedding business is a huge undertaking; from contracts to business accounts and everything in between, there are a lot of things that you need to juggle in order to keep your business operations running smoothly. And we get it–you didn’t get into the wedding industry to spend all of your time worrying about the business side of things. But, if the administrative aspects of your business aren’t in order, you could be opening yourself up to making legal mistakes that could cost you a lot of money and time (and give you more than a few headaches).
In our virtual conversation, 5 Costly Legal Mistakes That Wedding Pros Make, we sat down with Attorney and WeddingPro educator Kunbi Odubogun, Esq., to go through the most common legal mistakes wedding pros make and how you can avoid them to ensure that your business is properly (and legally) set up. Be sure to check out the recording when you have a few minutes. For now, however, keep reading to learn more!
DISCLAIMER: The webinar linked above is for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide legal or financial advice. All information and opinions below are those of Attorney and WeddingPro educator Kunbi Odubogun, Esq expressed in the webinar and quoted therefrom. They do not reflect the opinions or views of, nor are endorsed, recommended or warranted by The Knot Worldwide Inc., its personnel, subsidiaries or affiliates. We recommend that you consult with your legal or financial advisors regarding your specific circumstances.
5 Costly Legal Mistakes That Wedding Pros Make
“Without a plan, even the most brilliant business can get lost.” – Yogi Berr
During the webinar, Kunbi continuously asserted that, without legal protection, your business is vulnerable to litigation that could cost you a lot more than money. So, while these are not the only legal mistakes pros can make, be sure that the following administrative items are in order so you will be well protected going forward.
1. Not having a corporate entity
A corporate entity is a business structure that can perform activities, like taking out a loan or hiring employees, in place of the person who owns it. As Kunbi explained, instead of having all of your business decisions being directly tied back to you, you can make the same choices under your corporate entity and those decisions will, instead, be tied to that. This provides you with a strong layer of legal protection because it separates you from your business and limits a lot of the liabilities that would otherwise fall on your shoulders.
During the webinar, listeners were presented with two scenarios that could happen if they didn’t have a corporate entity in place, the first being that, if someone were to pursue legal action against a wedding business that doesn’t have a corporate entity in place, it would impact not only their business assets but their personal finances too. Additionally, if they have a business partner or family member that helped start their business, their finances wouldn’t be safe either. So, Kunbi urges pros to secure a corporate entity right away to avoid these scenarios.
2. Disregarding your intellectual property
“You have more value than you think. Protect it.” – Kunbi Odubogun
As a creator, you’re producing a lot of original work and content, and in this section of our virtual session, Kunbi explains why it’s important to protect. Your intellectual property (IP) is the original work that you create like your business’ name, logo, any unique programs you create, photographs, etc. It is something that should belong to you, but if it’s not trademarked or legally tied to you, someone else can swoop in and take ownership of it.
So, Kunbi urges pros to cover their bases and go beyond a simple Google search of their name and ideas when they are researching. Access government records to get a clear picture of if they’re legally entitled to your IP. Additionally, whenever they create IP, secure registered trademarks, patents and other licenses right away. Lastly, write IP clauses into any service contracts.
3. There’s no emergency or contingency plan in place
“40% of small businesses don’t recover after a disaster.” – Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
As a wedding pro, you likely have multiple contingency plans when it comes to events, but are your business operations as prepared? While there are a lot of circumstances that you can control, there are so many more that are completely out of your hands. From natural disasters to medical emergencies, any number of things can negatively impact your business, and Kunbi made sure to talk through the importance of being ready to navigate them.
According to Kunbi, a good rule of thumb is to prepare so you don’t have to react. Don’t stop at just creating a Plan A–create plans for anything that could foreseeably impact your business. Additionally, have emergency protocols, business insurance and business accounts in place. Lastly, bake those contingency plans into your contracts so your clients will be informed of any next steps.
4. Ignoring labor and employment laws
“52% of small businesses named Labor and Employment their BIGGEST challenge.” – CNBC, 2019
Hiring employees is an exciting time for a business, but it’s important to protect yours as you’re doing it. During the webinar, Kunbi named these as the top hiring mistakes pros make:
- Misclassifying the hire as Independent Contractor or Employee
- Not having solid hiring agreements
- Disregarding Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and United States Department of Labor rules or state local law
- Neglecting the onboarding process
- Not paying the appropriate taxes
When hiring employees, Kunbi urges pros to clearly understand the types of employment options that are available to you, and then correctly and clearly classify them once they are ready to come on board.
Pro-tip: If you’re in the position to hire employees, here’s everything you need to know so you can grow, scale and onboard successfully.
5. Having faulty contracts (or no contracts at all)
“One of the easiest ways to harm your business is through the contracts you are or are not signing.” – Kunbi Odubogun
Contracts are vitally important because they protect your business on all fronts. During this section of the virtual session, Kunbi talked a lot about how signing or distributing weak contracts can leave businesses vulnerable to lawsuits, or worse. So, to mitigate any negative impact of their businesses, Kunbi suggested that pros sit down with an attorney and draft strong, legally binding documents, such as:
- Operating Agreements (LLC Agreements, Shareholder Agreements, Bylaws, Lease Agreements etc.)
- Service Agreements (Wedding Pro to Client)
- Hiring Agreements (Contractors, Subcontractors Employees, Interns)
- Collaboration Related Agreements (Collaboration, Styled Shoot, Licensing, NDA, etc.)
Additionally, Kunbi urged pros to make sure that they understand the terms and conditions that are included in their contracts so they can explain them to their clients. That way, they’ll be able to point to specific agreements and legalese if ever a situation arises.
There were so many more insights in this virtual conversation, so be sure to check out 5 Costly Legal Mistakes That Wedding Pros Make to get them all!
Photo Credit: PR Image Factory / Shutterstock.com