Sometimes you can take shortcuts in life. You may start by renting a building instead of buying it, or buying used equipment instead of something brand new. But there are some areas, like legal advice, where you should not cut corners.
One legal area that should never be skipped: contracts. Using someone else’s contract, even if they give it to you willingly, is risky. A little bit of preventative maintenance is always less expensive than fixing it later. A $50 fee to make sure you have the right contract is far better than a $5,000 fee for a bad contract in litigation.
Just as you hope your clients wouldn’t trust just anyone with their fitness, you shouldn’t blindly trust a contract. If you have no idea who wrote it, you have no idea of their qualifications. It could have been written by someone who isn’t an attorney.
What if someone shared a contract with you, and then you share it, and than the next person, and their business suffers because of it. There are too many risks associated with a contract that wasn’t drafted or tailored for your business specifically. Either way, you’ll likely end up needing an attorney.
The best option is to find a contract for your business for your specifications. And that can be done quite affordably. It also offers some protection as the attorney can be helpful after the contract is written as well.
What if an attorney originally wrote it?
Aside from taking someone else’s work and using it without paying them, you mean? Yes, an attorney may have drafted it, but not your attorney, and maybe not even one familiar with the fitness industry. It’s the same thing as someone sharing your personal training plan across the internet.
Or, the attorney may be from a different state, and the contract is based on that state’s laws. There are many problems that can come from taking someone else’s contract and adjusting it to fit your specific needs on your own.
Can I draft my own?
If you’re not an attorney familiar with the fitness industry in your particular state, then drafting your own contract isn’t the best plan. There are legal theories involved, provisions that must be included, and methodology behind the construction that most people are not familiar with.
You wouldn’t hire just anyone to coach your clients or teach them about nutrition, so why would you attempt to write legal documents?
There’s also the fact that a contract is legally binding and can work against you as the creator. The contract terms bind the parties together and can be used against you if not written clearly and accurately.
But, I can’t afford an attorney.
Then save for one. I know, not fair, but it’s a good option. You can also look at buying a template contract and then having it adjusted if needed. Also, all attorneys are not created equally, so do some research to make sure you have the best you can afford.
But here’s one more way to save some money on attorney’s fees. Do some legwork beforehand. Write out your business goals, think about the practices and policies you want in the contract. All of these things will streamline the process and make it easier in the end. Being organized saves time and money.
Don’t share the contract you pay for. If it’s professionally drafted, you may be liable for distributing work you don’t have the rights to. Running a business means you have to consider legal consequences in many ways. This is just one of them, but it’s an easy one to navigate.