Join us as we sit down with Samantha Brandshaw, founder of InLine Legal, Virginia’s pioneering 100% virtual law firm, specializing in small business and intellectual property law. This episode is a treasure trove for entrepreneurs and business owners looking to navigate the complexities of client management and legal frameworks in both local and online business landscapes.

What You’ll Learn:

  • The Importance of Contracts: Discover why contracts are not just legal formalities but the backbone of clear client expectations and successful client management. Samantha shares her insights on how business owners can protect their ventures and foster trust through well-crafted agreements.
  • Setting Expectations: Learn the art of aligning client expectations with your service offerings, ensuring that both parties are on the same page from the outset. This segment is filled with business tips that bridge the gap between expectation and reality, a must-know for every entrepreneur.
  • Communication Skills: Enhance your communication skills with strategies for transparent, effective conversations with clients. We delve into how clear communication can prevent misunderstandings and build lasting relationships.
  • Client Management Techniques: Explore innovative client management techniques that help maintain positive client relations while safeguarding your business interests. Samantha provides practical advice for local business owners and online businesses alike.
  • Entrepreneurship Insights: Gain valuable insights into entrepreneurship and how to navigate the challenges of running a successful business.

This episode is a must-listen for anyone committed to elevating their business, enhancing client satisfaction, and mastering the legal and communication skills essential for success in today’s competitive market. Whether you’re a seasoned entrepreneur or just starting out, join us for an enlightening conversation that could transform the way you think about contracts, client expectations, and communication in business.

Helpful Links:

Inline Legal

The Marketing VA Advantage 

Six Figure Business Coaching 

Mastering Online Marketing for Entrepreneurs

Double Your Income with a Marketing VA, even on a tight budget

Transcript
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Welcome to the Six Figure Business Mastery Podcast, where every week, Kirsten

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and Jeannie dive into the essential topics to fuel your business growth.

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From copywriting to course creation, mindset to video

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marketing, they've got you covered.

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Tune in for expert guest interviews on all things marketing and

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business, and learn how to work on your business, not just in it.

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So, get ready to unlock your business potential and take it to the next level.

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You haven't thought much about what's in your contract.

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or um, how important it is to align your expectations or your client's

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expectations in your contract.

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You're going to want to listen up today and hear from our friend Samantha.

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So today I am thrilled to introduce to you Samantha Branshaw.

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Her company is InLine Legal and she is the founder and it's Virginia's

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pioneering 100 percent virtual law firm.

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She specializes in small business and intellectual property law.

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She's dedicated to safeguarding entrepreneurs and creatives

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from legal pitfalls.

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Thankfully, we have people like her.

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With a history of working overseas, she brings a global

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perspective to her practice.

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Operating between Brazil and Hampton Roads, Virginia, she harnesses the power

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of the internet to deliver affordable, precise, and accessible legal solutions.

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Teaching entrepreneurs to shield their assets and thrive in this digital age.

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So today we're going to talk about how local businesses owners.

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can align client expectations with their contract terms.

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So thank you so much for being here today, Samantha.

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We're so thrilled to have you.

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Thank you so much.

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And I'm excited to help people get in line.

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I love that.

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Obviously you went into law.

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Did you actually ever practice for a larger law firm before

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you started your business?

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I did.

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I practiced for five years for a multinational firm that was

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based out of Beirut, Lebanon.

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While I was there.

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We helped Lebanese companies go abroad and we helped non Lebanese

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companies work their way into Lebanon.

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So we were doing global corporate tax structure, trying to make sure

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privacy policies were keeping up with the myriad of different countries

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that were releasing privacy policies at the time, privacy law at the time.

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This was a huge thing.

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Multinational corporate conglomerates, all the big boys and they were lovely,

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but working with the smaller players, the ones that are actually bringing

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those dollars into their communities rather than just a big Swiss bank

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account was a lot more fun for me.

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So that's why we opened up in line after I left Lebanon.

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That's amazing.

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And so.

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I love when people have the story of going from corporate to being self employed.

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Yeah.

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So what were your biggest aha moments when leaving corporate

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and starting to work for yourself?

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The biggest one was that being a manager and an employee at

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the same time is really hard.

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I'm not very good at being both.

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I'm good at being one or the other.

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And to be honest, I think I might be a terrible employee at this point.

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I think a lot of business owners can resonate with that moment

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of I am officially unhirable.

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To corporate world at this point, it's not going to work.

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I think I've been there all my life and Jeannie's been

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there for the past 15 years.

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I am just so excited to hear all of your valuable information today.

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And I think it's, I think it's important because you are a business owner.

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So, you know, what other business owners are going through and how

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hard it is to wear so many hats and how legal terms can be overwhelming.

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So, I'm really excited to hear some of your advice for our listeners today.

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I'm super excited to get into it.

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Entrepreneurs are so used to wearing 10 million hats and doing 10 million

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things at any given time of day.

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So trying to be able to give those business tips and short, accessible

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platforms, like what y'all offer, I think is such an important moment

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because we can't absorb it all at once.

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It's not possible.

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Right.

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It's finding that 1 percent every day that allows us to get a little

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better, a little more protected, a little more stronger, and just have

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that better foundation under you.

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And that's how we get to the business of our dreams, right?

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It doesn't happen tomorrow.

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No, it definitely doesn't.

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And as a business coach, I've been working with clients for 16 years now.

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And it's really interesting how using a contract can be so scary for them.

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Yeah, it really can.

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I think there's a few pivotal moments as a business owner where you suddenly

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realize what I'm doing is real.

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There's people depending on me.

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There's expectations involved.

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There's all of this that comes with it, whether it be you sign

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a lease for a physical space.

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You get your first client that has a dollar figure that scares the bejesus out

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of you, or you hire your first employee.

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These moments, they're so pivotal and scary.

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The first version of any of this, it's scary.

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So I think having some advice on when to go in and look at these moments,

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not only from business coaches, your marketing people, your accountant,

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Also, of course, you're legal.

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I have to drop in there.

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Um, it's, it helps you make that experience less scary.

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And one of the ways that I really like working with people is making

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sure that their processes line up with their contract terms.

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That way we can make sure their client expectations that they want, the

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experience they want their clients to have, is clear from the get go.

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That's powerful.

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Samantha.

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Can you give us an example of that?

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Obviously not a client's name, but can you give us a great example of that?

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Absolutely.

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Something that we do for our longer term clients that I think is a

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bit unique in the legal world.

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Whenever a new service, a new product is about to launch and you have a series

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of emails or communications through SMS.

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Depending on whatever works for your marketing and that's going to be

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attached to that product or service.

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When that goes out, we work with our clients to actually go through that

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communication and make sure it's very clear of an in person service.

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What's the rescheduling policy taking that core term out of the contract and

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putting it into the client communication?

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Long before there's ever an issue of, oh my god, I have to reschedule, right?

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Let them know what the repercussions of that are, what

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the consequences of that are.

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And then the way that I really try to write contracts is

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to make things an incentive.

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So when you're talking rescheduling or cancellation policy, especially

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for in person services unique that require one on one attention, creating

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a circumstance where The earlier they need to, they can reschedule, right?

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The more notice that the business owner has, the more likelihood that the

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business owner has of being able to find a different person to fill that slot.

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So, the business owner isn't out any money, but making sure that you're

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maybe reducing the cancellation fee.

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If it's earlier in the process, or having none, if it's early enough

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in the process that you really can't find somebody and it's no issue.

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But telling your client that in the communication before the service

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ever starts allows them to be aware of, oh, this is what I have to do.

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I understand why this is happening now.

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And explaining that to them.

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We booked this time for you and only you.

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And the reason we do that is so we can focus wholly on you and your

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experience with us and our company.

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But if you need to reschedule, we understand life happens.

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Please refer to this rescheduling policy that's very clearly written

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in our contract and we're going to give it to you long before

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you ever show up for our service.

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We want to make sure you understand what's happening here and how

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to make it good for you and us.

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Because that's what sets the raving reviews, the happy clients, those

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expectations, those client expectations, with the experience that you as a business

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owner want to create for your clients.

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It's so interesting how clients can have incredibly unrealistic expectations.

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An example of that is with our program, the Marketing VA Advantage, we actually

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interview and vet virtual assistants, and then we put them into a paid internship.

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So we have, we're investing money in the, in the interns that we're training.

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Setting out a contract that aligns with your expectations and hopefully

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communicating those to your client will make it so that we've set

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the rules of the board game.

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That's all we've done.

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We can't control the number that the die rolls.

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It's impossible.

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But we can set up the foundational rules to give everybody a guideline of

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like, how this process is going to go.

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But I can guarantee we'll give you a good person, and if it's clear that

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they're not a good fit, let us know, like within a certain time frame, and

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we will do our best to make it right.

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Absolutely.

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Yeah.

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And I think we try really hard.

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Do we explain that in our process?

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It's definitely very clear in our contract.

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It's just one of those things where sometimes you think, okay, if someone

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would have that expectation, maybe they're not as good as a client, right?

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Because again, that's, at some point you have to understand as a business

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owner, time and money and value, right?

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Yes.

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If it thinks our time isn't worth anything and we can just keep hiring and training

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people for them forever and ever, then that's what that's going to be for us.

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So it's interesting.

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Yeah.

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Yeah, and I think that's really important to point out too, that even

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if you tell your people and it's in the contract, you gotta tell them again.

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Okay, you got to tell him again.

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And if something's still not clicking there, then a process that we recommend

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everybody go through with their attorney is we keep a pooh list to try to

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keep this PG of look what went wrong.

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Just what went wrong in the past 3 months and you can do this

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whatever time period you want.

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I recommend 3 months.

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If you've got like a regular attorney that you work with to keep your

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contracts updated and every time we're like, okay, is this something

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that we can address in the contract?

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Is this something that we can address in the communication?

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Even if it's already in the contract?

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Is this something we can address in the process?

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If it's already in both of those, if not, then it goes back to the question of.

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What does your intake process look like?

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How are you interacting?

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That's when I send people over to the marketing people.

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I'm like, there's, this is an issue I can't help with.

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This is out of my world at this point, but I know where the issue might lie.

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So you might want to go have a conversation with another

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professional at this point.

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Yes.

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And like you said, I think re evaluating what didn't work because there's always

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things, and that's the only way we can improve is if we really look at what

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happened and then question like, how can we prevent it from happening again?

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Or how can we improve?

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So we don't attract that those clients.

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So I do have another question for you.

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So in the online space, we have a lot, you have a lot of people who are very

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good at sales calls and they'll get that person excited and they take their credit

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card number, right, right there on zoom and type it in and process it that way.

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And then send the contract to them later.

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How do you view that process?

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Oh, I don't, I'm not a fan.

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Please don't do that.

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I.

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Okay, one, just on a personal level, for me that's a very growy, pressure,

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sales marketing tactic, and I personally don't align with that world.

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Had those tactics done on me, they work!

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They do work, that's why people do them.

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I understand.

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Legally, however, if you've accepted money and you haven't shown, given

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somebody at least a chance to look at the contract, much less sign it before

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you've accepted their money, The default rules in your state are gonna apply

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to you about late fees and refunds and how you have to provide the services.

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If they do a chargeback and call the credit card company and say, I didn't

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buy this service, you're in a world of hurt if you're playing this game.

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Because you no longer have the evidence to walk up to the bank

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and say, no, I did this right.

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Or God forbid it winds up in a courtroom with like small claims

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or larger than that somehow.

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Evidence is no longer on your side.

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You've put yourself in a bad position from the start.

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Is that really worth it?

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I can't answer that question for you.

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My job as a lawyer is to point out the risks and tell the business owner,

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Look, it's your risk mitigation.

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It's your risk assessment.

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It's what you're comfortable with.

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I don't like that practice for all of those reasons.

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I think for Jeannie and I, it's not even just about risk.

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It's about, we have a contract, like you said, to set expectations, to

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make it clear how we work with people.

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And I think if you're not proud of the terms in your contract, then you need to

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go back and talk with your attorney about how do you make sure that you, right?

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Is that who would you?

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Please, I beg of you.

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And look, maybe you're not.

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Maybe it's more than you're not proud of the terms.

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Maybe you grabbed it off of Google.

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And you just don't know what's in it.

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I am putting no shame.

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Absolutely none.

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I think most business owners have been there at some point in time.

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Legal seems expensive when you're first starting out.

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Right?

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When you don't know if this business is gonna work.

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When you don't trust that it's worth investing into.

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And when you haven't bet on yourself yet.

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I get it.

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You try to piecemeal stuff together.

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But we talked about those moments in the business where you're

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like, Oh my God, this is real.

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You, and it sinks in finally, I think getting a decent contract together

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is one of those moments, but you do have to have faith in yourself at that

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point that it's worth that moment.

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And if you're grabbing it off of Google, let's be real.

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You don't know what's in it.

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You didn't read that thing.

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Not really.

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Do you read the contracts every time they update iTunes?

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No, that's fine.

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That's not your zone of genius.

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That's not what you opened this business to do.

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So go do what you want to do, and don't let somebody else handle this

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nonsense that you don't need to think about until something goes wrong.

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And hopefully they're proactively trying to prevent it from going wrong.

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Yeah, and industry's changed.

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Look at AI.

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That has come in.

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All the time.

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And now we've got to have all different kinds of other parameters around

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what's acceptable, what's not, what we're responsible for, what we're not.

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So yeah, I can imagine that just changes all the time.

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Oh, yeah.

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And that's why regularly updating, especially your main client contract, like

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your signature program, your signature service, your signature product regularly,

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and put it, put a note in your calendar.

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That's why that's so helpful because you don't know what you don't know.

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And you don't know how much the industry changes, especially with AI.

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Things have been rapidly moving the past year.

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They have technology now that it just, they just send out bots to find out

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if you're using b roll or images or copy that you're not licensed to use.

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And then you get a letter saying this is copyrighted and you're using it and

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you've been using it for this long.

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So you owe us this much money.

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It's not even the company who owns it.

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It's these third party companies who are out there searching and then they

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go to the company that owns it and says, Hey, we found a, someone who's

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using it without permission, we'll collect the money and split it with you.

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And a lot of times the companies say, okay, so it is crazy that there are

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businesses set up just to find people who are using things that are copyrighted

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or trademarked that they do not have permission to use for the business.

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That initially created that intellectual property.

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It becomes a free revenue stream.

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So what other things do you think are important for business owners

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when it comes to contracts and clear communication with their clients?

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I think apart from what we've already touched on, making sure that

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those contracts are getting updated regularly to keep up with industries

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and the changes in your process, things that haven't gone right.

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Making sure that you're communicating that to your clients, because

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that helps set boundaries, prevent issues, more than you'll ever know.

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I can't tell you all the issues that were prevented by that one line in the

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contract, but I can tell you it did.

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There is also a moment of making sure that your contract matches

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your operations and process.

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We've hinted at this a little bit through this conversation.

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But, If you have, for example, a set of automations that sends

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out a, a message that says, like, today's your last day to reschedule.

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That's helpful and make sure that lines up with to the timeline and your contract of.

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I don't know.

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Today's the last day to reschedule for free, and that's 30 days out

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for your one on one service, making sure that matches up, because if it

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goes out 15 days beforehand, and on that day, your clients, oh my god,

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I just realized I can't do that day.

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You're now put in a terrible position of, do you say, oh, sorry, our

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contract actually says 30 days.

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The super proactive business owner that's really just trying to understand that

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life does happen and you're trying to make this process smooth and painless

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for absolutely everybody involved.

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So we normally work with folks like that, making sure, especially

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the automations, because once we set them, we tend to forget them.

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Making those regular check ins of, okay, we changed one thing.

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What is the trickle down effect of all of the different spots in the

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whole business that this affects?

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That's really important to, to be aware of.

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Yes, that's actually one of the things that we're working on right

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now is just going through all of our funnels and all of our workflows

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and make each of the message isn't aligned with what we're doing right

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now, but it's time consuming, right?

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Yeah, so it's hard to block out that time and that's, and it's not fun.

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Let's face it.

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But look, if every part of running our business was fun, everybody would do it.

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We know that.

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But the reality is you don't have to do it alone.

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You can build a team of professionals that support you.

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You can have your squad of fellow business owners that understand this

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nonsense, crazy life that we're building because it can feel very isolating.

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But making sure you're building that support system, I think that's what

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makes this whole process a lot easier.

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And if you're looking for legal support, I'd be happy to chat with you.

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I may not be the person to help you, but I am happy to check my network and see

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if there is somebody that is a good fit.

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If I'm not that right person.

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And I'm very upfront about that kind of stuff.

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I would love for y'all to contact me.

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Hit me up for that kind of thing.

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What's the best way for people to reach out to you?

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Samantha.

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You can find me quite easily on, on generally Instagram and the website.

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The handle is the same as the website.

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By the way, this is a good thing for branding tips to

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be a build trademark power.

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It's inline legal because we help business owners get in line with legal.

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Thank you for being here today.

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But I truly love the fact that you're saying, reach out to me.

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If I'm not the right person to help you find that person.

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And I really appreciate that about you.

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And I'm so glad you were here today.

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Thank you.

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Thank you.

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Thank you.

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Oh, it's been my pleasure.

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Thank you all so much.

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Thanks for listening to the Six Figure Business Mastery Podcast.

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If you enjoyed listening to this episode and you are ready to leverage video

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marketing on all online platforms, or maybe even start your own video

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podcast, then you need to check out the Done For You and Done With You

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program at themarketingvaadvantage.

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com and take your business to the next level.