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Getting Paid As A Business Owner and How a Legal Contract Can Help

You did the work.  Now your client is not paying.  What are you supposed to do?

You want to preserve the relationship and not be too confrontational but not getting paid is an issue for your cash flow and the financial stability of your business.

Here are some tips for collecting accounts receivable now outstanding, and improving the situation in the future:

Check the Contract

While legal contracts can help you to set clear expectations with your clients up front, they are also super helpful in a situation where your clients are not paying you.

Having a binding legal contract means that you can ENFORCE the terms of the contract.  So the first thing to check is to see what the contract says in regard to fees and payment terms.

Are the fees due clear in your client contract? Your client contract should state how fees will be calculated whether they are hourly, daily or fixed fees based on certain project stages.  Have you added on amounts for additional work beyond...

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5 Legal Tips and Templates for Podcasters

Podcasts continue to grow in popularity, including for business owners who are looking to generate new leads, establish their expertise and grow their community.

As with other aspects of business, there are some legal issues to be considered.  Here are my top 5 legal tips:

#1 - The content of your podcast is protected by copyright law and owned by the host.

This copyright protection, which is worldwide, is automatic upon creation.  The creator of the podcast (the host) has the exclusive right to use this content unless permission (i.e. a license) is given.  You can assert your rights through a copyright notice - i.e. (c) Legal Essentials Inc. 2021.  All Rights Reserved.  Advanced tip - if you have co-hosts for your podcast, you should agree on who owns what upfront (like a prenup) in case you decide to part ways.

#2 - If you have a separate podcast producer from the host, you should have a legal agreement with them.  

This agreement should...

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I built a website. Now what do I legally need in Canada?

If you have built a new website or have done a refresh to your old website (to get rid of the website shame you were feeling), congratulations!

A lot of business owners that I talk to have either not focused on the legal requirements for their website or are relying on their web developers or web designers to have included what they need.

Don't Assume Your Web Person Has Got This Handled

In my experience, most web developers and web designers are focused on the user experience and design of your website, but not the legal stuff.  They may pull a template from somewhere, but very few of them customize the website templates for Canadians and for your specific business needs.

So what to do?  I’ve got you covered.

Privacy Policy - You are required by law in Canada (PIPEDA and provincial laws) to have a privacy policy when you are collecting “personal information”.  Personal Information is any information about an identifiable individual.  ...

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Is your brand too descriptive to be registered as a Trademark in Canada?

Registering a trademark can be an important part of protecting your business brand online.  

If you want to read more about how copyright protects your content online, you can refer to this article.

So if you are in the early days of creating your brand, there are a couple of things to be thinking about before you spend a ton of money and energy on marketing. 

The most obvious first step is to do a Canadian trademark search so that you know that there are no similar words or logos that are already registered for your category of goods or services.

But an often overlooked NEXT STEP is to think about whether the brand - being a product name, for instance, is too DESCRIPTIVE, to be registered (and therefore protected as a Trademark.

From the Trademark Guide of Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO), these are some trademarks that can not be registered:

Trademarks that are generally unregistrable include the following:

  1. Names and surnames;
  2. Clearly descriptive...
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I just started my online business.  What do I need legally in Canada?

Congratulations on starting your online business.  Whether you have been running this business offline for a while or whether this is a brand new business to you, there are a lot of things to think about legally, especially for Canadian online businesses.

This article will help you understand what you need to do legally to protect yourself and your business and to set yourself up for success on a strong legal foundation.

The Four Legal Protections To Put On Your Website

When you have an online business, your website is where you welcome new people.  It’s like your storefront on the internet.  You may have spent some time making your website look sharp and tweaking your message and content, but you also need these four legal things:

  1. Privacy Policy - You are required by law in Canada (PIPEDA and provincial laws) to have a privacy policy when you are collecting “personal information”.  Your privacy policy will contain certain information including...
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What Type of Opt-In Language do I Need to Get Email Consent in Canada?

If you are a digital marketer or online business owner, you know how important the health of your email list is to the profitability of your business.
 
A legal question that I am often asked is what consent you need to send emails to Canadians to add them to your email list.
 
If you are sending emails (or other commercial electronic messages) to Canadians, you need either Express consent or Implied consent under CASL (Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation).
 
If you are dealing with people in the EU, you always need Express Consent to send them electronic messages under the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulations).
 
The key to Express consent is getting a subscriber to actively agree to join your email list.
 
You can have a check box, but it cannot be pre-filled with an X. The subscriber will need to actively check the box.
 
You need to explain in general terms what they are agreeing to receive and must include an unsubscribe mechanism.
 
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How to Do a Canadian Trademark Search

My online business mentor, Amy Porterfield, just released a podcast episode this week with US Attorney, Ashley Kirkwood, talking about protecting your online content.  I highly recommend that you listen to that episode here.

As a reminder, copyright laws protect your content.  Trademark laws protect your brand.

One of the recommendations, which I completely agree with, is to do a trademark search BEFORE you launch a new online course or digital product to make sure you are not infringing on anyone's trademarks.

I have already gotten questions from two business owners who listened to this episode about how to do a Trademark Search for Canada.  

To do a trademark search, you will find the Canadian Trademarks Database on the Government of Canada website.  The link is here.

If you click on "Additional Search Options" you can narrow your search in "Category" to Trademarks and under "Type" to Work Marks.  This will help to give you more relevant search results.

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What Makes a Good Legal Template?

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a "template" as:

- a gauge, pattern, or mold used as a guide to the form of a piece being made
- something that establishes or serves as a pattern

One of the ways that I strive to help Canadians doing business online is through the creation of made-in-Canada legal templates.

A good template serves as a guide - not just an example of a type of document. The difference is you will know what parts may need to be customized and what parts are a key part of the structure.

And all legal templates should be specific to your home country - using UK or US legal documents for Canadian businesses means the template will not be the best fit.

You also need to understand when to use which template.  A good template will give you some context for its use and let you know when it may not be appropriate to use.

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What Privacy Laws Does My Business Need to Follow?

Many businesses in Canada are becoming more aware that they have privacy obligations, but are still confused about which laws apply to them.  

This post will break down the various pieces of privacy legislation and when they may apply to your business.

PIPEDA (The Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act) - this is Canadian federal legislation.  It applies to businesses who collect "personal information" in the course of their commercial activities.  "Personal information" includes any information that is linked to an identifiable individual.  This applies to all businesses in most of Canada (see below).

Province Specific Privacy Laws - Some provinces in Canada have made their own privacy laws that apply either in place of PIPEDA (Quebec, Alberta, BC) or in addition to PIPEDA (i.e. for health-related information - Ontario, NB, NL and NS).  To read further on these provincial laws - click here.  For some organizations, the...

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Legal Tips About Social Media for Business Owners

Here are five things that you need to know about the legal stuff when you are using social media for your business:

1. You are a Tenant (not an Owner) when you use social media platforms. If you don't follow the rules, the Landlord might kick you out.

2. Make sure you have the right to share the content you are sharing. Don't take other's content without their permission or a license and get a release if you are creating content using other people's likeness.

3. Have a social media policy for your business. This will get everyone on the same page and protect against risks of privacy breaches, defamation or damage to your brand.

4. Copyright laws protect the original content that you create and publish. You can enforce your rights to it.

5. Know the CASL (anti-spam) rules for Canada. These rules cover all commercial electronic messages (i.e. DMs, texts) not just email. Know how you can add people to your email list within the rules.

 
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