Episode 68: How to Protect Your Business Rights with Sarah Waldbuesser
Transcript Episode 68
Stephanie Skryzowski : Welcome to the 100 Degrees of Entrepreneurship podcast the show for purpose driven entrepreneurs who want to get inspired to step outside of your comfort zone. Expand it to your purpose and grow your business in a big way. I’m your host, Stephanie Skryzowski, a globe trotting CFO whose mission is to empower leaders to better understand their numbers to grow their impact and their income. Let’s dive in!
Hey, everybody. Welcome back to 100 degrees of entrepreneurship. I’m Stephanie and I’m excited to have with me today, my friend, Sarah Waldbuesser.
Sarah is an attorney for coaches and online business owners. After several years at a law firm and a few career jumps, she ended up falling in love with online business and loves helping entrepreneurs achieve their dreams in a smart and protected way.
She’s also a wife and mama and traveler and food and wine lover. When not at her computer, she loves hanging with her kiddos, having wine with friends, flying around the globe and connecting with other online business owners. So Sarah is kind of like me and we are in an industry, legal and finance that maybe you don’t necessarily love spending money on or thinking about in your business.
It’s not certainly the most glamorous thing, but it’s one of those things that if you do it right from the beginning, you will be set up for massive success. I basically used this time with Sarah as like a legal consultation. No, I’m just kidding. She did not provide me any legal advice. Just have to throw that disclaimer in here.
But I did ask her all kinds of questions around trademarking and copywriting, basically protecting your intellectual property. I shared a couple stories of times that I did not have my legal stuff together and got myself into some expensive trouble. So she is an amazing resource and she has such a cool journey.
She has been all over the world and her career has kind of been all over the place as well. And those are like my favorite stories, because I really feel like it just shows the journey, the process to get us from where we are right now to wherever we want to go. So I think you’re going to love this episode with Sarah. Let’s dive right in!
Hey, everybody. Welcome back to 100 degrees of entrepreneurship. I’m really excited to be here with you today with Sarah Walbuesser, who is the owner of Destination Legal. So we’re talking about another one of those things in your business that’s super important, like finances. We’re going to talk about legal stuff today, so it might not be the most exciting thing that everybody wants to chat about, but it’s like one of the most important.
So Sarah, welcome!
Sarah Waldbuesser: Thank you for having me and I will do my best to make it as exciting as possible.
Stephanie Skryzowski: I know I do the same thing with finance. I’m like it doesn’t have to be boring and I’m going to try my hardest to make it not boring for you. So I appreciate that.
Sarah Waldbuesser: Exactly.
Stephanie Skryzowski: Tell us about your business today. What do you do? Who do you serve?
Sarah Waldbuesser: Sure. So, you know, if you said I’m the owner of destination legal and I serve predominantly online coaches and online business owners, helping them legally protect their business with contract term templates, which are, you know, we actually have a couple different sides of the business.
We have a template shop for newer business owners where they can download all of the contracts, terms of purchase, website policies that they need to start and grow their business. And then over at SarahWalbuesser.com, which is kind of a newer side of the business. I serve more clients one-on-one with registered trademarks and then sort of custom legal packages as well.
Stephanie Skryzowski: Awesome. It’s yeah, this is such a needed service as businesses grow. What size of businesses are you finding, like need your support the [00:04:00] most? Is it little beginning businesses or, you know, into the multi seven figures or everything in between? Or like where do you find people need your legal services at least to start?
Sarah Waldbuesser: Yeah, it really is everything in between. And actually that’s part of why I started this new arm of the business. We, because what I found is, you know, I have been doing this almost seven years now. When I started out the online space was a lot newer, the coaching industry was newer, but everyone knew and had legal questions.
And so at that time I was building up the template shop and really serving those newer business owners. But over the past five or six years, those newer business owners have now turned into multimillion dollar business owners. And so their legal needs have changed.
They don’t want templates anymore. They want one-on-one services, my eyes, and they don’t just need one trademark – they need five a year as their programs and businesses change. So I wanted to be able to serve both populations because I think it’s so important for new business owners to feel like it’s easy to get legally protected.
I know in your business as well, people come to you a little bit too late sometimes with their books and their numbers. And you’re like, oh, I wish you’d come to me sooner. So it’s my goal and really mission to protect as many people as possible because I work mostly with women and the more women we have running businesses they love.
And as part of protected way, the better off we all are. So the newer business owners are usually really happy with the different templates and bundles we have starting out. But then as they grow and they might need additional contracts and more trademarks that’s when I would start to work with them more one-on-one.
Stephanie Skryzowski: Yeah, I think that’s really important to note. So like essentially, no business is too small for legal protection in some way, shape or form. And maybe that’s just a contract template as you’re getting started and then your legal needs are going to grow. And I find the same thing with managing your finances.
You don’t want to start too late. You need something from day one, and then your needs are going to grow as you grow. So I love that you found a way to serve those beginning business owners and kind of like grow with them and offer more one-on-one services as well.
So we were on a little session with one of our mutual clients, a few months back, and I was talking about one of my mistakes in my business, or when it comes to legal stuff is not having a contract, not having a solid contract in place from day one. And so I had cobbled together, like pieces of contracts that I thought like, oh, this sounds good. That sounds good. Things that I found online into this contract and with the thought that I work with great people.
My clients are amazing. I’m never going to need to like enforce any of this. It’s just like this cute little formality that makes me feel like, oh, I’m a legit business owner, I have this contract. Well, of course you know where this is going. I basically got screwed like pretty badly in several different, like I’m thinking about three particular scenarios where I lost a lot of money and lost clients.
And it’s just a really horrible experience because I didn’t have somebody like you or your contract templates from day one. And that sucked, and I’ve definitely not made that mistake since. Do you see that happen a lot? And like, if that’s the case, do people come to you and like, help me fix this legal mess I’ve gotten myself into.
Sarah Waldbuesser: Yes. I see that a lot, probably at least on a weekly basis, I’m getting panicked messages in my DM or emails about a situation where, you know, I either didn’t have a contract at all, or I may have pieced it together and it turns out it’s missing really important things. And now everything is pretty screwed up.
And you know, I really have sympathy because I don’t want anyone in that situation. So I almost feel like the more I can be out there telling people the sooner the better. That’s why the template shop exists because it is a lower barrier to entry. But there are still people that just don’t listen until it’s too late or until it’s like, you know, I know I needed this yesterday and now I’m just going to come and get everything that I need at once, which is fine too.
But I hate hearing those types of stories and it’s really my goal to make it so that people want the legal. I’m sure you have this challenge too. Like when you’re building a business, there’s so many pieces that you want and need and website and growing an email list and maybe starting a podcast that accounting and legal are not the ones that get the most attention.
So I hope that we’re changing that a little bit because you know, when you’re first starting out, you don’t need much, but one of the things you do need is a contract. A contract in a way to get paid. That’s like really all that you need. And so it doesn’t have to be this huge, scary thing.
And I think yours is the cautionary tale because a lot of people do think they can just kind of hobble it together themselves, but you don’t know what you don’t know, right. You don’t know what should be in there, what shouldn’t be in there. And sometimes a contract that’s put together can actually be conflicting within itself if you don’t actually really understand what the term means.
So It’s so amazing that online legal exists now and the templates exists because 15 years ago, there was no such thing as a virtual law firm or an online attorney, right? So the fact that so many business owners can get a template now for a couple of hundred bucks, instead of having to go to a big law firm for thousands of dollars is really an amazing thing.
Stephanie Skryzowski: Yeah. I love how you keep talking about your work as helping as many people as possible. And I love that you’ve sort of demystified the legal process, made it accessible. And I think to a degree as we’re talking, I’m like, I hope that people listening, anybody listening is like, oh, I don’t have to be embarrassed or feel shameful if I’ve made the same mistakes or if I have no idea what I’m doing when it comes to legal, because your work is so approachable.
I just love that sounds like you really have a heart for service and serving business owners in this way. And just demystifying something that is scary and confusing and just making it accessible. To everyone and yeah, I wish I had known. I wish I had heard a podcast episode like this like seven years ago, because I would have a little more money in the bank, if so.
Sarah Waldbuesser: Yeah. I get that a lot. And you know, one of the things I love just hearing is it’s like an instant confidence booster. Like someone gets their template or their contract in place, and they’re like, Sarah, I am sleeping better. I just feel better knowing that I’m doing like what you said, like this is what a legit business owner does.
And knowing that I have the right contract in place, it’s going to protect me. It’s not just a, it’s going to protect you from that one client that is going to be crazy, you know. We all hope that all of our clients are a hundred percent amazing, but chances are there is the 1% that is going to challenge you at some point, and you’re going to need to rely on that contract.
Stephanie Skryzowski: Yeah. It’s so true, it’s so true. And like I said, I thought everyone that I worked with was fabulous, but things happen. Things happen beyond our control. So it’s amazing to be protected. And like you said, feel like you can sleep at night. Okay. So a business owner, you know, they go to your template shop.
They have all of the contracts that they need in their business. Talk to me about like other protections, trademarks, specifically. This is something that I am not familiar with at all. I do not have any trademarks in my business, maybe I shouldn’t be saying that out loud, but yeah. Tell me about like, what exactly is a trademark?
What should be trademarked, at what point do you need to pursue that in your business? I have no idea.
Sarah Waldbuesser: Yeah, absolutely. So you know, as you grow and your offers change, it really depends on the business. Basically there is a pretty clear roadmap of your legal needs. When you first start out, you need your one-on-one contract and you need everything for your website, you know, privacy policies, those are legally required.
And then as you grow, you might add on a group program or online course or membership site. So for that, you need your terms of purchase, which is a specific document for those kinds of online programs. Then as you grow, you might need a contract for hiring team members. And then you might be hosting retreat or entering into a partnership.
So then, you know, those, it depends on the business. But trademarking can really happen at any time. Registering your trademark is really one of my favorite things to do because it gives a business a business asset. They actually own their intellectual properties. So a trademark is what designates goods or services.
It’s a way that consumers can tell things apart. So for example, when I walk in with a cup of coffee that’s white with the green circle on it, you know that it’s Starbucks, right. And if I walk in and my cup has yellow and orange and round, you know, that it’s Dunkin donuts. Those are trademarks, right?
It’s a way to distinguish goods and services. So interestingly like UPS has trademarked the color brown for delivery trucks. So you know that if you see a brown delivery truck it’s UPS. FedEx could never do that. That would be trademark infringement. So in the online space and small business space, people really use trademarks for the name of their business.
The name of a program or a podcast or coaching services. And really it’s a way to stand out in the marketplace and ensure that nobody else is using the name that you are growing your business under. So, you know, 100 degrees of entrepreneurship for a [00:14:00] podcast is a great name. Something to consider trademarking. 100 degrees consulting is something for sure.
Because the question, you know, I get all the time is how do I know if it’s time to trademark. And you can trademark it any time even before you’re selling something. So like Amazon has like over 900 trademark. But a lot of them are intense use, meaning I’m reserving them for the market.
So especially if someone’s doing e-commerce or physical goods or they’re developing a signature course, you can reserve the name before it goes on the marketplace to make sure that you own the trademark.
Because the other side of this is if you don’t own the trademark at any time, you could get a cease and desist letter and have to change the entire name of your business, your brand, your podcast, whatever it is. And so the only way to ensure that doesn’t happen is to own the trademark yourself.
But I like to use something called the gut punch test. So Stephanie if you got a email, today, that was a cease and desist [00:15:00] letter saying you had to completely change the name of your business, 100 degrees and your podcast 100 degrees because somebody else has trademarked it. How would you feel? So like, did you get a little gut?
Stephanie Skryzowski: Yes.
Sarah Waldbuesser: That means it’s time to trademark. So the gut punch test is really your intuitive head of like, you know, some people are like, oh, I wouldn’t mind a rebrand. I wasn’t attached to that anyway. But then others who have been building a business under that name for years, they’re like, oh my gosh, to have to give up all of that capital and all of that branding would be such a big deal. I need to go ahead and trademark so that I own this business asset.
And the other thing to keep in mind, And again, especially for some service product base, other kinds of businesses, if you ever want to sell your business, have to own the trademark. You cannot get bought out if you don’t own that intellectual property because it’s seen as a really important business asset.
Stephanie Skryzowski: That is so interesting. I [00:16:00] actually just recorded a podcast episode yesterday about selling your business and some of the things that you need to think about doing before you do that. And it was not all inclusive by any means, but I didn’t realize that that you needed to have those assets trademarked in your business if you wanted to sell.
Very interesting. I can’t believe there’s like, I mean, I guess I can believe it with like big corporations. So people basically like hoard trademarks.
Sarah Waldbuesser: Oh, for sure. There is a whole, there’s called trademark bullies basically. And there are people, you know, there was a case a little bit ago with one of the Kardashians because someone had trademarked.
I want to say one of them had a daughter, Stormi, storm. Someone had like trademark Stormi Kardashian or something before Kylie or whoever. And they lost the case because they did it with malicious intent. So if someone can prove that you sold the trademark with malicious intent, then you might have to give it up.
But if someone is just like, you know, I might launch a business like this, you can actually hold the trademark for up to three years in the application approval process. And so it’s definitely not that I would ever do this, but I have had the thought because so many amazing business owners I see don’t have the trademarks and I’m like, man, I could go do that.
Obviously I wouldn’t, I would much rather they go and get the trademark. You know, similar to the contract issue, I’ve had so many people come to me too late. I had a client who has an amazing podcast and she waited too late to trademark, someone else did. And now she can. And someone, I had another client who did this whole rebrand and then came to me to get the trademark and it was taken and now she’s having to do a whole nother rebrand.
So it’s definitely something to think about and talk to a trademark attorney about sooner rather than later. And one tip for you guys listening whenever you’re naming a program, your [00:18:00] business, services, anything, you want to first Google it, just to see who else might be using it and in what space. Now trademarks exist within different classes of goods or services.
So here’s an example, one of my trademarks is protect your passion. That’s registered for legal services. You know, who else loves to use the trademark, protect your passion, our fishermen and the NRA. I’m not too worried about them because our audiences are not conflicting, right. So another example is Dove chocolate and Dove soap.
They both own those trademarks because they’re totally different classes. If I said I had the best piece of Dove today, I hope that you know, that I’m having chocolate and not eating soap, right. So, but you know, usually within the online space, there is a lot of overlap with small business owners.
And so you want to make sure that no one in your space is using something similar. So check Google, check social media, [00:19:00] and then you can go to the United States patent and trademark office, which is uspto.gov and they have a free search engine where you can see most of the trademarks that either are registered or pending.
If there is one that’s close to yours, you really want to rethink that. And part of what we do when we work with clients is a comprehensive legal search at the beginning to make sure that the passed registration is clear. If it’s not, oftentimes, we might need to sit down and say, okay, we might need to rethink this name a little.
We might need to add a word or two to make it more unique and distinctive so that we have a better shot at getting it through because the bottom line is USPTO is filled with individual attorneys, right? And so it’s really the luck of the draw. Some of them are a little bit crazy and I think are sticklers for certain things and then others aren’t.
Sarah Waldbuesser: So it really depends on who you get.
Stephanie Skryzowski: Oh, my gosh. That is, this is like a whole world [00:20:00] I had no idea existed. Does trademarks, does that apply internationally? Like, I feel like there was at one point a company that had a similar name, like a hundred degrees, something, but they were based in South Africa. And so does that, like, what, yeah.
s there any international trademark law or is it all just US?
Sarah Waldbuesser: So there is no international trademark, every country has their own trademark system. And so you want to actually think about trademarking where you have the biggest market. So I actually worked with a lot of Canadians and those in the UK and Australia that have US market because they want to protect their trademarks here.
And then there is a system for what you can protect in multiple countries as well. And so I have some clients that started in the US and then they’re like, well, my market’s growing in Canada and UK, so I’d like to go ahead and add that on. But you really want to think about where is your market.
Typically at the US is the [00:21:00] hardest to get the trademark and it also makes it the most valuable just because of how our market exists. And then I’ve had clients, we’ve tried to get trademarks in China and other places, and it’s just like, it’s the wild west out there. So you really want to think about where are my consumers and then where is my competition?
So like, where’s the biggest threat that someone could come in. If someone holds the trademark in South Africa, You can’t necessarily mark it there under that name, but then if you get it in the US, they couldn’t necessarily come here and mark it.
Stephanie Skryzowski: Interesting. Okay. I have zero business in South Africa, so I’m not particularly concerned, but very interesting.
I thought maybe, okay, so trademarks and what’s like the other thing that you can-
Sarah Waldbuesser: Copyright.
Stephanie Skryzowski: Yes, yes, yes. So can you explain the difference? I’m sorry, I’m making you give a legal lesson.
Sarah Waldbuesser: No, that’s okay, that’s okay. This is something that gets confused a lot and [00:22:00] people come on the call like, you know, I do a lot of calls, just checking to see how to work together. And they’re like, I want to copyright my name and I’m like, no, you want to trademark your name. You may want to copyright your content. So trademark law protects names, slogans, logos. You have to be selling something under it to get a registered trademark and then copyright protects content.
So online courses, book images, pictures, music, films. So you think copyright content, trademark or more names. And copyright protection is automatic. So you think about it. This podcast, you’re creating, a blog post, a book, social media posts, a picture, anything you create in fixed form, you own it.
You’re the owner, that protection is automatic. If someone steals it, you can send a cease and desist letter and you can get the web host to take it down. But in the US you can only sue for [00:23:00] copyright infringement. If you’ve taken the extra step to register the copyright with the government. So it’s not necessarily to do that for everything, but if you write a book, if you have a signature course, certainly photographers, copyright a lot of their images.
If you want to take that extra step of protection.
Stephanie Skryzowski: I see. Okay. I could see how those would get confused very easily. It’s legal stuff, it’s all the same, but it’s definitely not. So that, yeah, that distinction is very helpful.
Hey friends, are you feeling stuck with what to do next to manage the money in your business? Maybe you’ve logged into QuickBooks once or twice, but got instantly overwhelmed, maybe you started to set revenue goals, but don’t know where to go from here. Maybe you simply know that managing your numbers is the right thing to do, but you don’t know what that actually means. I’ve got you covered. I have a brand new 10 step checklist to manage your business like a CFO without making it your full-time job. Head over to 100degreesconsulting.com/checklist to get the free checklist.
Stephanie Skryzowski: I want to get into your business journey, but I’m going to ask one more legal question while we’re at it. Like yeah, close the loop on this conversation. Okay. So if business owners are like, oh my goodness, listening to this, and they’re like, I need protection, I need some help with things. What are some of the first steps that they should take?
Where should they go? What do they do?
Sarah Waldbuesser: Yeah. So obviously you come to destinationlegal.com and we can help. Right there is a lot of information, there’s a lot of blog posts on there. Kind of outlining what you need, what the different things are. We have some great starter bundles. For coaches, for health coaches, for service providers, for people getting started.
And then, also I’m on Instagram @sarahwaldbuesser or @destinationlegal. And I share tons of legal stuff all the time. Or look for an online attorney. There are many of us out there. I [00:25:00] definitely suggest if you’re a small business owner that’s working online in any capacity that you make sure the attorney that you talk to or purchase a template from knows that industry.
Because it’s different, right. And you know, I don’t want to be ageist, but a 65, 70 year old white man, isn’t gonna understand what terms of purchase for a membership site are, right. It’s just not, it wasn’t around back then. And so I would just suggest that anyone looking to get started reaches out to a resource that clearly knows their specific industry.
Stephanie Skryzowski: Yeah, that’s super, super helpful. And you have a new offer that’s kind of like, sort of in-house legal counsel, right? So can you tell us about what that is? Because okay, so business owners who are probably even in to seven figures.
Like we’re not at the point where I can hire a full-time legal counsel for my business, nor would I need, I don’t think I would need one. I don’t think we have 40 hours of work for that person. But that’s a service [00:26:00] that you’re now offering, right? Can you tell us a little bit about that and who that’s a really good fit for?
Sarah Waldbuesser: Yeah, absolutely. And so over the past couple of months, we’ve launched this new website, Sarah Waldbuesser that is more dedicated to those multi-six, multi seven figure clients that want more premium one-on-one services. And so we developed this platinum protection package with basically the three months offer where you’re working with me, one-on-one, I come into your business, I’m doing a complete legal audit.
So I’m looking at all of your programs, all your services, all your offerings, your website. I’m reviewing all of it and seeing what needs to be updated, what contracts might be missing, what terms might be missing. And then I go ahead and together, we develop this legal roadmap of what are the priorities that need to be addressed right now, because I’m also looking at what are you planning to release in the next 6 to 12 months.
To make sure that you’re prepared for that as well. And then I update or draft a number of those contracts and then it also includes a trademark registration [00:27:00] package. So in the legal audit, I’m also looking at what’s your IP, you know, what brand assets do you have that potentially we need to trademark. And usually, especially if anyone has been in business for a number of years, it’s not only one that they need, but probably two or three trademarks.
And then we prioritize what’s the most important. Because the thing about trademarking that I didn’t mention is that the date of filing, the date we submit the application, your legal protection starts. So if we submit your application tomorrow and someone else comes in three days after that with a very similar name, the trademark office will look at yours first, before they even look at that other ones.
So the data filing can be important. And then it includes email support for 30 days after that. It really has a chance to have an in-house counsel for a period of time. And make sure that you just have all your legal docks in a row that you’re 110% offer, you know, protected there. And when I put this offer out, I sent it to a few of my [00:28:00] longer-term clients and got really great feedback.
One even said like, oh my gosh, I’ve been looking for this kind of, in-house like premium service for awhile. I can’t wait to do this. So it’s something I’m really excited about because I really like, I’m sure you get this feeling too. You know, I like getting intimate with the business and feeling like I really know the ins and outs. And just getting to hang out with awesome business owners is super fun, too.
Stephanie Skryzowski: Yeah, I love that concept of this like sort of fractional legal service. Like you said, for a period of time, is there a period of some sort of frequency by which you should sort of like, okay, say you do this service with you and we kind of dig deep into all the things we get everything, all protected the way it should.
Is there a period of time after which I should then sort of do like, have you do another legal audit of my business? Do you recommend like annually kind of make sure you’re still good to go?
Sarah Waldbuesser: Yeah. So I would say annually. You know, after that, I do have a smaller retainer package that I work with longer-term clients on.
It’s just a couple of hours for a year, basically. And that’s to answer questions, to update any contracts. You know, things come up, your service offering might change and you just want to run something by me. So when after something as comprehensive as this, you certainly wouldn’t need another full on.
It might just be like, Sarah, we just changed this, can you just double check it? Or I’m having this trademark issues, someone, you know, we need to send a cease and desist or, here’s two more trademarks I need to file. So after that it would be much more sporadic. But I think every year or so you just wanted to check in and think about, okay, am I still good with all my contracts?
Am I having an issue? Does the clause needs to be changed? Things like that.
Stephanie Skryzowski: Got it. That’s super helpful, that’s super helpful to know, and just kind of get into that rhythm of thinking about this on a somewhat frequent basis because things do change. Awesome. Oh my gosh. Okay. So now that I’ve used this as my like personal consulting session for like learning all things legal. [00:30:00] What I really want to hear also is about your own business journey.
So I would imagine that you did not start out your career automatically jumping into the online space as an attorney. So what was your path like? How did you get from wherever you started to doing what you do now?
Sarah Waldbuesser: Yeah, I wish I would have, man, I would have say the very first online attorney.
I went to law school thinking I would change the world. And as what happens with a lot of lawyers, we get sucked into big salaries as a 25 year old. So I left law school, moved to DC, starting at a law firm and thought it was just amazing to be getting this paycheck. But I realized pretty quickly that it was not for me.
I didn’t love working long hours. I didn’t love helping ExxonMobil do whatever they were doing. It just like it wasn’t for me. I knew pretty quickly, I had no desire to be a partner in a big law firm. So I stuck it out for two or so years and then went on to my next thing, which was at that time I was soul-searching in my twenties. What do I want to do?
I want to help women, I love travel, how can I kind of combine all these things? So I ended up going back to school and got a master’s in public health. And then I focused in, on global health infrastructure and some legal health regulations internationally for several years and had a stint where I lived in India and worked at a health organization. Got to travel a ton through Asia and the middle east and Africa.
And by all appearances, it was my dream job. I couldn’t figure out why I was so unhappy. Here I was living in Washington, DC. I had amazing friends. My supposed the dream job and I was just supremely unhappy. I was traveling, you know, a little bit, but then spending many, many months in a windowless office, writing reports for governments that probably never got read.
Interestingly, what I really focused on was early detection of epidemics and pandemics and infectious diseases. So I wish they would have read this.
It’s been interesting to see this space play out with COVID, because it really was a lot of what I was focusing on. So I had some of these moments of trying to figure things out where I took out my journal and was just like, what do I want, what do I want with my life? I was in my early thirties and I knew I wanted to be able to travel, I knew I wanted flexibility and freedom.
I wanted to be able to work from Starbucks. And so I started Googling like travel while you work, work while you travel. All I thought was I don’t really want to be a travel agency or travel agent. Is that all there is? And I stumbled across this podcast called the tropical MBA that was started by these two guys about how to build an online business and work from your laptop, wherever in the world.
And I was like, oh my gosh, this is it. It was just like, I knew it. They were living in Bali and they had built some e-commerce stores. And I started listening to their podcasts every day to and from my walk to work. And after about four months of that, they were offering this program in the Philippines. Come to a tropical island in the Philippines, and we will teach you for two weeks, how to build your online business.
So I was so like put my job at casting my 401k, my parents totally freaked out. I went to the Philippines and started my first online business, which was called the bootstrap lawyer. And so this was almost eight, nine years ago. And there really were not other online attorneys at the time. There was maybe one or two and it was a really new space.
I didn’t know what I was doing, but it was a great learning experience. I didn’t keep the bootstrap lawyer going. Of course I was like then out of money. So I moved home with my parents for about six months trying to figure out the next step. I did some consulting at the time, but still felt this pull towards travel and online business.
So I bought a one-way ticket to Thailand and over the next two years, I traveled all over Asia and Europe and built a series of different businesses. I had a e-commerce business, I was still doing some consulting, but through it all, I had all these business owners coming to me asking for legal help.
Found this coaching world I had no idea existed with health coaches and business coaches and life coaches and career [00:35:00] coaches and immerse myself in that. And again, had so many people coming to me asking for legal help. And so that’s how my first templates were born, my first legal packages were born and that was almost seven years ago now.
It’s just really kind of more through that. It started as one thing and then destination legal grew. And now we have this offshoot of Seroquel abusers. So I’m excited to see what the next chapter looks like.
Stephanie Skryzowski: That’s amazing. I knew a little bit of your story from the time that we had talked before, and I love that there was sort of this common thread.
It sounds like throughout your entire journey of travel, that seems like it was that was the common thing there. Did it feel like that when you’re in it or did you feel like, oh my gosh, I’m all over the place. I’ve got my, like, you know, I’ve got my JD and I’m in a law firm and now I’m doing public health stuff.
Like, did it feel all over the place or were you like, did it [00:36:00] feel at least somewhat aligned along the way?
Sarah Waldbuesser: It definitely felt all over the place. But now looking back, I can see how each step was kind of leading to a certain place. And yes, I do think travel and like kind of getting to freedom was the common thread there.
But if you had asked me when I left the law firm that eventually I’d have kind of a virtual legal online business, I definitely wouldn’t have said yes. So-
Stephanie Skryzowski: Yeah. You made some pretty big leaps that to some may have seemed risky at the time. Like you said, cash, you got your 401k and your parents like, well, what are you doing?
I mean, just like up and going to this program in the Philippines or buying your one-way ticket to Thailand. Those are all things that are pretty gutsy, honestly. Did you ever feel in that journey like, oh my gosh, this is so far out of my comfort zone. I don’t know what the heck I’m doing or were you like, no, I’m good.
Stephanie Skryzowski: Like, what’s your personality like? Or were you like, no, I’m good, I’m just gonna like do this and see what happens.
Sarah Waldbuesser: Yeah. So interestingly, all of those things really aren’t that out of character for me. I’ve always been the friend that just like a little bit out there, right. I studied abroad in college and I traveled, I did summer exchange when I was in high school and I went to live in India for a year.
And so these kind of bigger decisions to me are scary, but I get this feeling where it’s good, scary and I know I’m doing the right thing. Like moving to Thailand, I had no idea how it would turn out. But I knew that I was moving in the right direction. You know, when I first decided to go to law school, I didn’t know what I was going to do.
I just felt that I was moving in the right direction. And so, you know, when you’re building a business or being an entrepreneur, these risks are going to happen in one way or another. I definitely had moments right before destination legal kind of took off [00:38:00] where things weren’t moving.
And my dad was sending me law firm job things and making me talk to people. I was like having to update my resume and I was like, oh no, this is not for me. The thought of having to go back to a nine to five. And so, that was kind of the impetus to go all in on the legal and then the universe kind of responded to it.
But I think those kinds of bigger decisions in life that do seem scary. But if you just listen to your intuition and like, it just feels like it’s guiding you in the right way.
Stephanie Skryzowski: I really like the way you said that, like you knew it was a step in the right direction. And so maybe you didn’t have the 10 year vision and plan fully built out.
You didn’t know what destination legal would become or what you’d end up doing, but you knew that like that next best step was moving you in the right direction. I think that is such valuable advice because I know I, myself, I’m a huge planner. And so I want to be able [00:39:00] to see the crystal clear picture of what’s going to happen in five years.
I literally want a crystal ball, but that’s just not possible, obviously. So I love that you followed your intuition to those next steps and just knowing, feeling like this is the next best step that I’m going to get there. I don’t know where there is, but I’m going to get there – I really liked that. I admire that a lot, I feel like I need maybe a little bit more of that in my life. I’m a planner.
That’s awesome. All right. Oh, this was so good. I really appreciate you sharing that journey. And like I said, we have kind of heard each other stories before and I also went to thought I was going to go to law school.
I got as far as the LSAT and then I was like, Nope, I’m not going to do this. So I totally feel you on all of that. Did you think, when you left the law firm and then you went to the Philippines and you were like, okay, this online business stuff, I think this is for me. Did you think in the beginning that it was going to be legal work?
You said you tried several other kinds of business ideas. Were those all legal services of some sort or were they like totally different things?
Sarah Waldbuesser: Yeah, so there were some totally different. So from the time I actually left the law firm and went into the online business world was if these four years where I was doing the global health kind of international legal stuff, but very untraditional legal right.
So when I went and I was talking to Dan, who ran the program and we’re still friends to this day and he was like, you should do legal. I was like, no, I don’t want to.
I was like, maybe I’ll sell sweatshirts that have like legal slogans on them or maybe I will, I still like wanting to do something with travel. Maybe I will start a online travel agency. And he was like, no, you need to do legal. And so I did, I started with the bootstrap lawyer and it just, if that time it didn’t feel right. I think honestly, I was listening to all these men.
I was like the only woman there. And so I was building this really masculine [00:41:00] brand and I didn’t, it didn’t feel right. So I kind of left it and I did start an e-commerce store where I sold eco-friendly furniture. Total, you know, like what? Then I worked in marketing on a fair trade online shop that sold like yoga balls and things like that.
And then for a minute, I thought I might be a coach. I thought I might be a health coach, but then it just kept coming back to the legal and I finally saw how I could be of service. How I could make an impact. And at the beginning, it’s so funny. My first business coach, I had a problem charging people because it came so easy to me, right?
Like this is what is easy to write a contract. And she was like, but it’s so valuable to them. Right. So I think I started to see how much, what I had learned and done for so many years could make an impact on these other women’s lives. And so I finally came around to the [00:42:00] passion side of it’s my passion to help you protect your passion.
So when I came to that point, that’s when things really clicked and grew from there.
Stephanie Skryzowski: I think that’s so interesting that it was, you know, you tried a lot of different things and then landed on something that clicked. And so if anybody is listening and you’re like, just feeling unsettled in where you’re at, you probably just haven’t gotten to that click yet.
I did the same thing after I worked for a big Manhattan law firm as a legal assistant and took the LSAT and got a year or two into that. And I was like, Nope, this isn’t for me. Then I tried like all the things and I did, I journaled, like you were saying, what might I want to do?
I’m like, I wish I have to dig up that journal. That would be so funny to see the list of the things that I thought I wanted to. I think it was like spa owner, I just like casually wanted to own a spa, like so funny. But anyway, I love, I love that. And you felt like finally something clicked into place and I felt the same thing too.
So the journey takes a while. I think it’s all part of it. Each little next best step, like you were saying leads into what will eventually be your thing. So I love that. Right. So yeah. Before we wrap up, I just have two quick questions for you. The first question is, what helps you disconnect from work?
Sarah Waldbuesser: Bubble baths, and being with my little kiddos. I have a three-year-old and a one-year-old. So whenever I am with them. And certainly not thinking about work because they are crazy, but it’s horrible.
Stephanie Skryzowski: Yeah. You literally, like I know, I’ve got two little ones too. I literally can not think about work when I’m with them, because same thing, they’re bananas.
Sarah Waldbuesser: Yeah.
Stephanie Skryzowski: I love that. And I don’t know if you’re a big reader. I know I have two little ones, so like, I totally understand. If not, but if you are what’s the best book you’ve read recently?
Sarah Waldbuesser: You’re catching me at a really good time [00:44:00] because I just joined my new neighborhood. So we just moved here a couple months ago.
My new neighborhood ladies book club, first meeting is actually tomorrow night and I have finished, almost finished the book. And it’s literally, you know, if you’re like me, we read a lot of business and mindset books, and this is the first fiction book, I’ve read in a long time and it’s called The Appeal.
And it’s really good because it’s written basically by emails, back and forth, through different parties, trying to solve something. On the front it says like a modern day Agatha Christie type situation. So it definitely has been good and I’m excited now to kind of have the impetus from this book club to read.
Some books I wouldn’t necessarily otherwise read.
Stephanie Skryzowski: Oh, I love that. I’m going to look that up. I’ve been trying to do that myself because I will go business books all the time. But I’ve been trying to alternate a business book and a fiction book. Because I don’t know about you, but I struggled to have hobbies outside of work.
Stephanie Skryzowski: So I have to force myself to, like, let’s not think about business as we’re reading before bed. Like that seems right.
Sarah Waldbuesser: Yeah, absolutely.
Stephanie Skryzowski: I love it. Well, I am going to look this one up. Thank you for sharing. All right, Sarah, where can our listeners find you? Where were you hanging out online?
Sarah Waldbuesser: Yeah. So destinationlegal.com for sure.
And on Instagram where it’s @destinationlegal but also I have my new kind of personal account @sarahwalbuesser and don’t worry if you can’t spell it, you can go to the destination legal account and it will point you back to it.
Stephanie Skryzowski: Yes. Perfect. I love following along with all that you’re doing. Thank you so much for being my guest today and yeah, appreciate you.
Sarah Waldbuesser: Thank you so much for having me.
Stephanie Skryzowski: Thanks for listening to the 100 degrees of entrepreneurship podcast. To access our show notes and bonus content, visit 100degreesconsulting.com/podcast. Make sure to snap a screenshot on your phone of this episode and tag me on Instagram @stephanie.skry and I’ll be sure to share thanks for being here friends and I’ll see you next time.
Transcript for Episode 68