I know you’ve got a lot going on this week (my #1 priority? Making lots of almond milk hot cocoas 😜) —
But I wanted to share a quick A to a really good Q we got recently for Sam’s Sidebar — my weekly Q&A series where I answer your legal questions about online business.
If you’d rather listen to my reply than read it — you can listen to my reply here! That’s one of my brand-new mini episodes of my podcast, On Your Terms! I drop full-length episodes each Monday and a shortie Q&A episode (less than 10 mins!) each Thursday.
OK let’s jump in because our reader, Raquel, asked a really good question this week!
Read this if you have or want clients who live in other countries👇
The Question //
My business in based in the US, however I coach people all around the world. How do I make sure my contract protects me?
The Answer //
Oooh, I love this one, Raquel! It’s so good because it hits on a really important thing that we don’t talk about enough when it comes to legally protecting your business:
Of course you need legit contracts, an LLC (if that’s right for you), business insurance, etc — but none of that really helps you if you’re not able or willing to actually enforce them.
First thing’s first:
You can include language in your contracts that determines the only state you can get sued in (yours, usually) and which state’s law applies to your contract dispute with your client (yours, ideally).
That way, you’re not making it possible to get sued all over the place (expensive, time consuming, stressful), with all different states’ laws applying to your contract (because goodness knows all 50 don’t agree on much!).
We need these ^ contract clauses in every single contract, no matter where the person lives (they’re built in to my contract templates).
What if your client lives overseas?
You’d have to try to enforce your contract where they live (because jurisdiction or enforcement is going to be tricky here in the US), or explore collections against them in their country. (You’d need a contract to explore either option).
It’s not impossible, actually! But because every country’s debt collection laws are different, you’d want to work with a collections agency or attorney who specializes in that country’s regulations.
So where does that leave things for you if you work with clients overseas? Is it not worth it?
I think this is where my opinion is a little unique —
Yes, I’m a lawyer. Yes, I nearly lost all blood flow to my tush sitting for the Bar Exam for over 4 days in 2 states at the same time.
But I’m a practical business woman, more than anything.
There are always risks in business. And I think it’s about knowing what you’re getting into and deciding whether you want to get into it, given the risks.
So will it be harder to collect money from clients who live overseas? Yep, probably. It might not even be worth trying to collect, though. (I have a training in the Ultimate Bundle® all about how to figure out when it’s worth letting an unpaid invoice or refund request go!)
But I don’t think that should stop you from working with them.
Personally, I’d probably collect payment in full from overseas clients. Or I’d ask them to use PayPal credit (or something similar), so I get paid upfront and then PayPal deals with their bounced payments, if it happens.
Or you pre-qualify your clients as much possible — reducing the chance of bounced payments in the first place. (I’ve got free email templates for you to help with this!)
No matter what route you choose to take — it all starts with a solid client contract that has the right clauses in it to protect you.
📝 Did you know you can get any contract or website policy you need for your biz in my DIY Legal Template shop? 👇
You can mix & match — grab just what you need. They’re all fill-in-the-blank style. Each template comes with its own How-To Video Tutorial where I walk you through how to fill it out.
Hope this was helpful! Comment below and let me know 🙂
PS: I’m sharing what you need to know about whether it’s legal for you to work with clients overseas, what you need to know to do it safely, and how to get paid if they skip their invoice on my pod, On Your Terms®, Epi 78 here.