Being a coach solopreneur means we are often running a business and are self-employed. Taking the step to own your own business is less scary if you feel safe and know you are considering the safety of your business and your clients. Whilst we may have learnt a little about coaching ethics and session contracting on our coach training programme there is still a lot to learn, consider and build into the operations function of a business that requires us to have an eye on the law!
All business owners need to be aware of the legal implications of owning a business and a coaching business also has its set of legal items to put in place. We are dealing with services that offer professional support and psychological safety to ensure that clients feel free to share highly confidential thoughts (contextual sharing about relationships, their organisation and their personal capabilities or concerns) - so maintenance of confidentiality is our highest priority.
Our understanding of the law around data protection extends the safety we are offering in our service contracts when we offer confidentiality as a given for the session. We also need to be aware of how else confidentiality could be breached – for example, when we make and store client notes or when other data is collected and transported through email and website communication. It is therefore imperative that we have clear data protection policies and procedures that cater for all the services we provide.
In addition, I wonder how much attention is currently being paid to these UK laws:
• The Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982 makes it an implied term of contracts between executive coaches and their clients that services will be provided with reasonable care and skill, within a reasonable time and at a reasonable charge.
• The Business Protection from Misleading Marketing Regulations 2008 also make it a criminal offence for executive coaches to promote their services unfairly, either by providing misleading information to clients (for example about their qualifications or experience) or by making unfair comparisons between their own services and those of other executive coaches or similar consultancy providers.
You would hope that all coaches are always thinking ethically, especially in their Sales and Marketing tactics but, in an unregulated industry, the safest way to stay within the law is to learn as much as you can from the coaching accreditation bodies and their ethical codes. If these are applied in the set up of your own business with ethical integrity, then you will feel more comfortable about being within the law.
There are of course several other laws that can apply to your coaching activities and how you set up your unique business. I therefore highly recommend that you get support and advice from a legal specialist who can ensure you have the right policies in place that protect your business. Being a legal eagle will help you sleep more soundly and be more present for coaching and associate opportunities!