Hopefully you already know the fantastic Joey Vitale, but if not, you’re going to love him. He’s here to share about how to make sure you’re legally protected as a summit speaker – and a business owner in general. And before you skip to the next episode, this is a FUN episode. Every single time I learn from Joey, he makes legal stuff fun and not-scary, so stick with us. He says it better than I do, though, so I’m just going to turn it over to him!
What is up, everybody, and welcome to today’s legal training. It’s called Owning It: How to Keep Your Business Protected and Legally Legit. And I know that everyone here is really interested in how to protect your speaking, the summits that you’re on, things like that. So we’re going to be particularly focused on that, but don’t worry: if you have questions beyond speaking, well, this will apply to that too.
So let’s get started. By the way, hi, I’m Joey. I’m not your average attorney. I’m a trademark lawyer and growth strategist for online business owners, I’m the host of a podcast, I’m an Enneagram nine, for those of you who know the Enneagram and follow it, which makes me a peacemaker type, which puts me in the super, super rare category of attorneys who don’t really like to argue. And so I’ve really found my people in working with small business owners. I love the community over competition vibe that y’all have, and I do what I can to help business owners stay protected so you can all thrive.
And also for any other eighties kids out there, I’m a huge Boy Meets World fan, so much so that I named my pets after all of the Boy Meets World characters. And that is Mr. Feeney there in the picture with me. Any of you guys who know the reference to Boy Meets World and Mr. Feeney, we’re good friends already.
So let’s just dive right into it. I get it: legal stuff can be really confusing, which is why I’m about to show you the simplest legal strategy on the planet. It sounds too good to be true. Don’t worry – this is not going to be painful. If you’re like most people who sit in on my webinars, you’ve probably been avoiding that “legal one,” right? Don’t worry: this is going to be super helpful.
But before we get into the strategy, I want to show you why this is my strategy because we gotta make sure that we’re in the right mindset before we start talking about this stuff. I’ve created something called the Legal Growth Plan Matrix that my clients and students in my programs absolutely love.
So let me break it down for you. So this is your typical matrix chart thingy, right? And on the vertical line is the level of growth that you plan for your business – not necessarily where you are, right, but where you want to be, where you’re working towards. Do you want to be a high-growth business or do you want to be a low-growth business? And hey, no judgment here.
And then on the horizontal line, we’ve got the level of protection that you want for your business. Are you more of a low-protection plan kind of business owner or high protection?
And as we look at it in this matrix, it creates these different zones that I place business owners in so we can identify maybe where we’re at now, where we want to be.
And let’s start here. I call this the Dabbling Zone, and I’ll just be honest here: serious business owners – serious speakers on summits? They’re not in the Dabbler Zone. This is a place where people who don’t really want to grow their business stay. And if I’m being honest, it’s not necessarily a bad legal strategy to not have much in place if you’re in the Dabbling Zone, because you’re probably not going to ever need to rely on these legal protections because your business, it just isn’t going to be that exposed to risk.
Okay, so moving onto another kind of more obvious zone on this matrix is the Exposed Zone. So this is where you are a quickly growing, scaling, stable business… and you still have not that many protections in place. This is where your business is exposed.
And when I say exposure, you might be like, “well, yeah, Joey, obviously,” but I want you to think about the Exposed Zone this way. Think about like nature and animals here, because if you think about an animal – let’s say like a super fast animal like a cheetah in like a pack of cheetahs or whatever – and the cheetah starts running really, really fast. If you look at what happens, the other animals look at that fast cheetah running. When an animal is moving quickly, the other animals pay attention.
And that’s what happens here. When you are making the moves to quickly grow and scale your business, other people start paying attention. They start copying, they do other stuff, they’re watching what you’re doing to succeed, and they might be stealing from your IP, abusing contract terms and other things.
And so it’s not just that you’re a high growth business and you don’t have a lot of protections in place that create exposure. It’s that your growth is attracting people to your business that are putting eyes on you. And so that’s why it’s not a good place for growing business owners, speakers, experts to be in this place.
Now, this one surprises people, because you would think that me as an attorney would say, “you know what? Everybody that is on the high protection part of this matrix is in a good place.” Not necessarily. I see so many business owners who make the mistake of falling into what I call the Paranoid Zone.
This is where your business still isn’t as growing as fast as you want it to, or maybe you don’t even have big plans for your business to grow fast, and yet you’re a very, very risk averse person. And a lot of people come to me expecting a kind of pat on the back by saying, “Joey, I just started, I don’t plan on making a lot of money this year or whatever, but look at me, I’ve got these beautiful contracts that I spent a lot on. I did LLCs and got all these trademarks and whatever,” and I’m like, “That’s cool that you did that, but you’re focused way more on the potential problems that can happen to your business and using the law to kind of prevent all of those nightmare situations than taking those harder steps to grow your business.”
I am probably going to be the first attorney to tell you, I don’t think that this is a strong place to be. Even if you’re in a low-growth business, I don’t think it makes sense for your protections to outweigh the activities that you’re doing to grow your business. Because if your business is going to grow, it’s got to take some risks, which brings us to the fourth and final zone.
It’s the good one. This is what I call the Peaceful Zone. And when I say peaceful, I mean like when you lock your doors at night, are you really that afraid that someone’s going to come in and steal from you? Well, unless you’ve just like watched a scary movie where that happened, probably not, but you do it anyways, and it creates a sense of peace of mind for you that even if something bad happens, you are protected.
That is the zone that I want for everybody here, right? That we’re taking those moves, we’re wanting to achieve a high-growth business, and at the same time, we’re putting protections in place to match that.
So the keys to business are to act in alignment with where you want to go and to be in alignment with who you want to become. In other words, the bottom line is you need a legal plan that matches where you are now and aligns with where you’re heading.
Okay, I 100% believe that if you’re watching this, your success is inevitable and you’ll hear coaches say this. But there’s a other side to this coin that’s kind of legal-ish, which is that if your success is inevitable, then problems are also inevitable, right? Yeah, there are going to be issues the more that your business grows and instead of trying to stay small to avoid those issues, let’s lean in and have the appropriate level of protections in place to protect us from those inevitable problems.
And all that I want you to do – I encourage you to do this – is you can just DM me @joeycvitale and just say, “yo, Joey, I’m out of integrity with my brand, separation, relationships, content, whatever it is.” And look, I know that even that statement might give you a little goosebumps, might make you kind of scared, because no one really wants to say they’re out of integrity, right? That might suggest that you’re doing something bad or wrong or amoral, but again, that’s not how we’re using the word here. I encourage you to use this more, whether it’s with me or other people, and not let it mean anything more than just “the business isn’t working as smoothly as it could be.”
So again, “I’m out of integrity with my brand separation, relationship, content” – which one or combo of those still isn’t in integrity? Because once you have a fully integrity business, legally speaking, then we can start to shift more to, okay, what can you do to layer in certain protections, more strategically, but we gotta have this integrity first.
That’s it, you guys. Hope that you enjoyed this, hope it helped you take some next steps. Again, I would love for you to just DM me, let me know where you are. Whatever I can do to help, I’m here. Thanks, guys. Bye.
Didn’t I tell you that was going to be a fun one? You should definitely listen to Joey’s full presentation from Sell With a Summit: Speaker Edition, especially because he covered the keys to getting into the Peaceful Zone. You can get free access to that in all the other presentations at Sell with a Summit: Speaker Edition. There were so many amazing speakers of this event and if summit speaking is part of your business game plan, this is a can’t-miss.