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There may be a defining moment in your life that you remember, one event that altered your path from that day forward. For Andrea Sager, that moment came after she had landed what she thought was her dream job.
Just out of law school, Sager found herself in a job at a prominent law firm, making six figures.
“I was working on the 38th floor, which had a great view. I’m a huge baseball fan, and I could watch a Cincinnati reds game from my office, which I thought was the coolest thing in the world.”
Despite the perks and the fantastic office view, Sager was miserable.
While working at the law firm, Sager maintained a small business of her own, and knowing that she was at a law firm, other small business owners in her network would consistently seek out legal advice. However, they did not have the resources to retain the services of the more prominent law firm. When one business finally did, she was eager to help bring this client into the firm.
“Finally, somebody came to me at the firm, and they were like, I don’t care how much it is. I just want to work with you. I need to get this done,” Sager reminisces.
The aforementioned defining moment came to Sager as she pitched the client to a partner, but the response she got was less than encouraging: “We do not want small business owners. They are not quality clients.”
Hearing these words, Sager knew she had to make a change and started planning her exit.
“The way they were degrading small business owners. I mean, that was me. I had been one, and I just knew I was seeing so many sides of the coin that I knew somebody had to go serve these small businesses,” Sager says.
A month later, she was let go from the law firm, but for Sager, it was a blessing in disguise. The severance packed gave her a leg up to start her own firm.
Not long after, she went out and built her dream job, a business that could serve small business clients and anyone in need of legal assistance for their business.
The Inspiration Behind the Legalpreneur
Sager’s new firm proliferated quickly, mainly doing trademarks and copyrights. “We hit a million dollars in my second year,” she says. But this was not yet the Legalpreneur that Sager runs today.
In the meantime, Sager gained insight into what these small business owners needed from a legal service.
Her firm would do trademark work and other services, but the business owners would still have questions here and there. “It was literally two-minute emails here, five-minute emails there, but at the same time, all those questions added up,” she says.
While these questions are essential for business operations, charging hourly for these small exchanges just felt wrong to Sager. Recognizing the need for legal advice and education, with flexibility for communication, Sager established the Legalpreneur. Its membership grants entrepreneurs access to unlimited email communication, a monthly phone call and document review with an attorney.
Sager is now entirely focused on building the Legalpreneur brand with its signature product, the Legalpreneur membership. “We do everything to set you up legally as a business owner. That way, hopefully, there are no issues down the road.”
And while you may have heard about other legal membership services, what sets the Legalpreneur apart is its proactivity aspect, preventing legal problems rather than solving them after they occur. About other services, Sager says, “Most of those are reactive. It’s more like, ‘hey, call us anytime you have a problem.’ We try to be proactive and prevent the problems from happening in the first place.”
For businesses that have utilized the Legalpreneur, their feedback proves that Sager identified a significant pain point and has provided an adequate solution. “…one of the biggest things is people just love knowing they have a go-to in their back pocket,” she says.
Without fear of communication costing extra, businesses feel much more comfortable asking all the questions they need to function successfully.
The Best Way for Entrepreneurs to Protect Themselves Legally
There is truth to the saying that you don’t know what you don’t know. Sager regularly encounters business owners who know they need legal protection but don’t know what they need. That’s why when business owners sign up for the Legalpreneur membership; they receive a business audit. The business audit gives them the answers they need and an attorney that will work with them to get it done.
“Their assigned attorney is their general business attorney. And then, if they need an employment attorney, a real estate attorney, or some specific niche that that attorney doesn’t cover, we will still get them connected to that attorney,” Sager explains.
A big part of the Legalpreneur’s services is education, focusing on helping business owners learn to lower their risks through legal protections.
Sager stresses the importance of education for business owners, especially small and solo business owners. “They’re the ones wearing all the hats, and the moment you become a business owner, you are at the same level of risk as a fortune 500 company.”
Sager’s service provides legal protection to lower the risk for small business owners. As Sager says, “Even though you’re held to the same standard as a fortune 500 company, you don’t have the C suite and all of the other positions to help you as that fortune 500 company does.”
Navigating the legal waters can be tricky and is full of intricacies not necessarily known to those outside the legal field. A typical example of miseducation or misinformation is how business owners view trademarks and copyright. “They didn’t go to law school, that’s my job, but at a very high level, it’s crucial to know the difference because, especially in today’s online world, your intellectual property is your brand’s most important and valuable asset,” Sager says.
“Trademarks relate to your brand name, logo, slogan, product names and service names. Copyrights are your creative work. Your blog posts, photos, videos, website copy, email copy, social media copy,” Sager explains.
She uses a podcast as an example, “Let’s say you have a podcast. The podcast name is protected with the trademark, and the episode content is protected with the copyright.”
Typical Mistakes Startups and Entrepreneurs Make
Sager stresses that misunderstanding trademark infringement is one mistake she sees newer entrepreneurs make (names do not have to be precisely letter-for-letter the same for infringement to have taken place). She advises all entrepreneurs to get their trademarks protected as soon as possible.
The next significant factor is contracts. For companies with more resources, custom contracts are a nice option. For smaller business owners and those just starting, Sager clarifies that you don’t necessarily need custom contracts and that finding reliable contract templates can be acceptable for your business. However, she emphasizes the importance of reliable contracts with appropriate legal protections, as poorly arranged contracts can be a disaster for a business.
Check out the Legalpreneur’s free guide on The 4 Things Your Contract Must Include for more information.
How Can Entrepreneurs Prepare in Their Startup Phase?
When asked about what advice she might have for entrepreneurs in their startup phase, she first emphasizes education but followed up with suggestions for setting up your business as an LLC.
“At a minimum, you want to be an LLC. If you’re going to have investors, you’ll want to be a corporation. But if it’s you or just a couple of owners, then an LLC limited liability company will be your best bet.”
It is important to remember that Sager’s knowledge and experience come not only from a place of law but from entrepreneurship as well, so understanding the unique needs of business owners is a topic she can thoroughly relate to.
If you are interested in hearing more of this insight, you can check out the Legalpreneur podcast here. To learn more about the services the Legalpreneur offers, from their membership to “do it, yourself,” products, courses and a la cart: Check out the Legalpreneur.