S7E5 | Special Guest Sankeetha Selvarajah
Special guest Sankeetha Selvarajah, a lawyer and business owner, gives advice on legal-proofing your membership.
“Every move that you make should be to preserve your profit in over-communicating, in being clear in your terms, and also being very, very clear to your customer.” – Sankeetha Selvarajah
In this episode I’m joined by a special guest, Sankeetha Selvarajah, a lawyer and CEO of Startup Dox. Sankeetha is a business transactional lawyer for over 250 small businesses and startups, and she’s been practicing law for nearly 14 years. She’s also started seven different companies, and operates three of her own companies. Her most recent project is with Startup Dox, a company that’s a business platform for small businesses and startups to learn, grow, file their companies, and get document templates to assist them in their growth.
I wanted to get Sankeetha’s perspective on legal-proofing memberships. Before you even start your membership, Sankeetha recommends something she calls the “cinc triple method of protection.” To start, Sankeetha says “you absolutely must” have a membership contract, agreement, or summary.
The second recommendation is to get commercial insurance for your company. The third piece of “cinc” is company. A company like an LLC or corporation can protect your personal assets from getting sued if someone joins your membership, becomes disgruntled, and decides to take you to court or file a complaint.
Though none of these tips are required, they’re highly recommended. Just keep in mind “cinc,” contract, insurance, and company.
Sankeetha gave us advice on where to start with a membership contract. You should include any tiers in your membership, and include what the different levels cost, and make sure the benefits of each tier is clearly defined. When someone joins your membership they’ll need to know the benefits and limitations of what’s in the membership. Having a membership contract that accurately reflects your business protects you.
Having the price included with your membership levels is also key, because the main legal disputes with memberships are price-related. Sankeetha recommends having a third party payment method as well.
It’s also a good idea to include a game plan for if a client wants to cancel their membership. This is something you can put in the FAQ section of your website as well. Over-communication is much better than under-communication, especially when it comes to dealing with payment disputes.
It’s key to have everything clearly spelled-out, like labeling your membership as “recurring” on your sales page. Let people know when they’ll be charged, because we don’t want people to feel as though we’re sneaking payments on them. Lay out the payment terms loud and clear on your sales page and contract. Have them bolded and underlined. As Sankeetha pointed out, time is a profit tool. You’re preserving your profit by over-communicating, so there’s less time that you’ll need to spend dealing with disputes.
Sankeetha had some general advice for membership owners as well, like “keep doing it until you have fun with it,” since it’s a great way to build recurring revenue. She also recommends starting small, and then seeing where you want to go after that.
Sankeetha has membership subscription agreements on her website that you can customize for your business. Thank you again to Sankeetha for being on our podcast and for giving us some amazing advice!