If there's one post in this series that you read, it needs to be this one. Keeping your business legal is imperative in any business, but due to the dangerous nature of working with horses, I'd say it's not only imperative, but vital to not only the success, but to the survival of your business.
Your business needs a proper, well-built legal foundation in order for it to thrive. From terms and conditions to privacy policies, hold harmless agreements to helmet waivers, I'm going to discuss in this post the three routes you can take to establish your business's legal foundation, which one is best for you, and what paperwork you need to make sure you've got yourself and your business covered.
That's what legal paperwork is all about, really: C. Y. A.
*Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer. For legal advice, always consult a professional. I am touching on legal needs in business because it's not something that is often covered, but I passionately believe that it needs to be discussed far more often than it is.
Three Routes For A Strong Legal Foundation
1: Consult a Professional
This is your best option, and really, your only option. Consulting with a lawyer who practices law relative to your industry is 110% always what you should do. Normally, what lawyer you choose will depend on what industry you plan on doing business in, but I personally suggest talking to a lawyer with experience in agriculture--specifically equine--law no matter what.
2: DIY It
Unless you're a lawyer, you shouldn't do this. There's a reason lawyers study for, like, twenty years before they become lawyers. There's a metric ton of information they need to know, legalese they need to memorize, loopholes in the law they need to be familiar with, and probably millions of laws they need to know of, too.
By DIY'ing your legal work, you're taking your business's life in your hands and taking the risk that it's not done properly. If anything should happen and you should get sued, your DIY disclaimer or hold harmless agreement might be missing a clause that could save you thousands.
3: Done-For-You Websites
If you're strapped for cash and can't afford a multi-hundred dollar consultation--hahahahah like me (ugh)--then you can opt for a done-for-you website like Rocket Lawyer or Legal Zoom. I personally use Rocket Lawyer because the costs are low and they have options that fit my legal needs. (That said, once I can afford it, you bet your butt I'm consulting with a pro. I don't plan on taking ANY chances, y'all.)
When it comes to choosing one of these three options, take into account not only what you can afford to pay up front in legal fees, but what you can afford to pay later on if you're sued, as well as what legal action someone could take against you in the future. Right now, I'm, eh, okay with Rocket Lawyer. I'm not running a super risky business and their contracts are fairly comprehensive. It's a risk I'm willing to take.
The Paperwork You Need For Your Business
Now let's talk paperwork. There are a few key pieces each business owner needs, and I'm going to run you through a list of them, plus links to Rocket Lawyer templates that you can fill out.
*Another disclaimer: This isn't a sponsored post from Rocket Lawyer, none of these links are affiliate links, and including them in this post does not imply endorsement of their site/products.
*A third disclaimer because why not: I am not a lawyer, and as such, I encourage you to seek out proper legal counsel before starting your business. You may use this blog post and the attached articles on Rocket Lawyer as general legal information rather than legal advice. As always, when you need legal advice, ask a lawyer.
Establishing Your Business
- Choosing Your Business Entity Type
- Do You Need A Registered Agent?
- Doing Business As Filing (Also: What is DBA?)
- DBA vs. LLC: What's Right For Your Business?
- Registering Your Business
- Starting A Business
- Running A Business
After you've gone through those, take a look at the list below. I've listed a handful of very common contracts, agreements, and waivers, so think about what your business's needs are as you go through this list.
- Boarding contract
- Sale contract
- Lease agreement
- Training contract
- Hold Harmless agreement
- Liability waiver
- Helmet waiver
- Right of First Refusal agreement
- And many more, I'm sure
While Rocket Lawyer doesn't (to my knowledge) offer these kinds of paperwork, you should be able to find samples or templates online if you're going the done-for-you route. But, of course it's always better to consult a lawyer so you can make sure you have all the pieces necessary for your business's unique needs in place.
That said, if you're running a different kind of business that happens to cater to the equine industry (like a tack or clothing store, feed store, franchise of some kind, etc.), look to similar businesses to find out what kinds of paperwork you need. (Or consult Rocket Lawyer... Or an actual lawyer.)
(*Note: Not touching on the veterinary aspect because I'm not even 10% sure what kind of paperwork they need...)
That's it, y'all! That wraps up the series on building your business plan in the equine industry. If you haven't done so already, don't forget to check out the other posts in this series and download the vision board planner (available on post #1) and the business plan workbook (available on post #3). If you have any questions, you can find me on Twitter & Instagram, or just drop your Q in the comments.
Read the rest of the posts in the series:
- Building Your Business Plan: Vision Boards
- Building Your Business Plan: Business Models
- Building Your Business Plan: Business Plan Must-Haves
- Building Your Business Plan: Business Plan Additions
- Building Your Business Plan: Keeping It Legal (that's this one!)