What is your biggest risk as a community builder?
You might not have given this much thought, but how people treat each other on your membership site could become your number one liability. So how do you write the terms of service and guidelines that protect you in court and create a safe space for your members? (For more on creating a safe space and a masterclass in writing a code of conduct, check out episode 19 with Queer Design Club.)
Today’s episode is all about the legalities you need to consider in your business and community. To help you get started, we’re interviewing Wesley Henderson of Drafted Legal and Henderson & Henderson in Charleston, South Carolina. Wesley is a lawyer and a member of SPI Pro, where he recently hosted an unbelievable Ask An Expert event.
We get into everything, from how to set up a new business to moderating your community. Wesley even shares his fantastic cheat sheet for handling the poor behavior often disguised as “freedom of speech” online.
Also, if you need an easy and affordable way to handle all the legal stuff without hiring an actual lawyer, Wesley has you covered. DraftedLegal.com has templates for registering LLCs, building communities, coaching, freelancing, and more. Even better, Wesley was kind enough to extend a 25 percent discount to our listeners — just use the code SPI25 at checkout!
Drafted Legal is the place to go for all the legal documentation you need to get your company up and running, legally. We help startup creative agencies, health and fitness coaches and trainers, consultants — and every business in between — get access to the startup documentation required to build a business right, from the beginning.
We’re business owners, just like you. We understand you need legal help to ensure your business is covered from A-Z, but you’re looking for something a little more personalized than a “one-size-fits-all” solution. You’re not interested in piecemealing your legal contracts together and wondering if you got it right. At Drafted Legal, we provide the legal templates and startup guidance you need to get your business off to a solid start. We’re also licensed attorneys, so if you need our help beyond our templates and courses, you’re in luck.
Head to DraftedLegal.com and use the code SPI25 at checkout for a 25 percent discount.
In This Episode
- Wesley’s fantastic Ask An Expert event in SPI Pro, and why it was so helpful
- The 1 percent of people who will cause most of your trouble, and how to protect yourself from them
- The benefits of registering an LLC and how to do it
- How to find out if your chosen business name is available
- Avoiding online scams and stopping people from stealing your content
- Your biggest risks as a community builder
- Terms of service, community guidelines, and moderation
- How DraftedLegal.com can help you set up your business and community
- Dream Golf: The Making of Bandon Dunes by Stephen Goodwin [Amazon affiliate link]
- Start with Why by Simon Sinek [Amazon affiliate link]
The CX 052: The Legal Liabilities of Community with Wesley Henderson of Drafted Legal
Jillian Benbow: Hey, everyone, Jillian here. Just a heads up, this episode contains some explicit language and may not be appropriate for younger audiences.
Wesley Henderson: Your biggest risk here in the community is people stealing other people's ideas. What your community members do to each other becomes your biggest risk. What you're trying to avoid is being negligent, or let's say somebody lost their million dollar business. Well, they're going to hire a lawyer and start suing people. You don't want someone to end up getting wronged and say, "Well, had I known someone was going to steal it, I would've never said anything." You want to put the decision-making, make the users decide whether to put the information out there.
Jillian Benbow: Oh, hello and welcome to this episode of The Community Experience podcast. You know me probably, I'm Jillian Benbow. I am the hostess with the mostess. If you don't know me, welcome to the show! Happy to have you. Today, we are talking to Wesley Henderson, who is a lawyer and I get free legal advice for an hour. Just kidding. There's no legal advice in this episode. We talk about legal things, we talk about everyone's favorite topic, the first amendment, and what it really means, especially in digital community when you have to moderate somebody and they say, "You're violating my first amendment right."
Wesley gives us a perfect response. Perfect response. If you deal with that in your community, I hope you don't, but if you do, we have a cheat sheet for you to be able to get that conversation back on track and remind them how the first amendment works. We also just talk about CYA, cover your butt. We talk about things like terms of service and community guidelines, how you can protect yourself. It's great. Wesley is a member of SPI Pro. I asked him to be on the show because we do these expert events in Pro if someone has an expertise, and Wesley definitely has expertise in law, it's what he does. He helps entrepreneurs with legal stuff, that's what his firm does.
He and his brother have a practice called Henderson & Henderson in Charleston, South Carolina. How idyllic. Recently, he started on the side something called DraftedLegal.com. It's where you can get templates, legal templates. They have this great Start Here section, where you can incorporate your business, file an LLC, go through all the steps, but not in a ... I think we've all heard of like rhymes with Smeagle Schmum. It's better than that. It's more informed than that, it's more personalized. Then also has all these bundles and with templates and different documentation you might need in a small business where if you can't afford to hire a lawyer, one-on-one, you have these options. I just think the stuff he's doing is great. We had such an amazing Ask an Expert with him talking about what are the legal things you should consider when starting a business.
In this episode, we focus it mostly just on running a community, whether you're doing that for a company, whether it's your community and you own "it", just some of the considerations to think about. I think this is a super important episode, also fun. At the end, Wesley does share a deal, a discount code for you if you are interested in purchasing a template or using his program to legally create an entity. Obviously, no pressure, but it's there for you if you want it, so let's get into it with Wesley Henderson of DraftedLegal.com.
Jillian Benbow: Okay. I am so excited to introduce our next guest, because he's in SPI Pro. He is a Pro member and also a lawyer that helps people with businesses. He's done some Ask an Experts in our community. He has really cool things on Drafted Legal, which we'll get into, templates and all sorts of things. Yeah, I think talking about legal considerations with community is a great idea, so welcome to the show, Wesley Henderson.
Wesley Henderson: Thanks for having me. I'm excited to talk about these communities. I've been listening to some of the episodes you all have. And Smiley, I was just listening to where you're talking about relationships and everything you look at on like these happiness barriers, you are talking about becoming grownups and how we feel like we're not really grownups. When you look at all these happiness books and happiness studies, one of the top things is always relationships. COVID, obviously, really tested us on that, so it seems like people are pouring in to how do we continue to build these relationships online. Obviously, in-person is pretty much the ideal in my opinion, but it's a very fascinating and cool thing that seems to be on everybody's forefront and probably worthy and definitely worthy of everyone's time. I'm excited to be helping with this and everyone listening who's trying to build that. It's a very cool endeavor.
Jillian Benbow: Absolutely. Well, thrilled to have you. You've helped so many members in Pro with questions about incorporation, LLCs and all all of the things to consider. I think it's easy as, especially as community builders to skip that part. It's like, "Nope, I'm going to start a community. I'm going to do all this stuff. I'm not registered in any way," and then it comes like tax time or something you're like, "Oh, shit! I was supposed to."
Wesley Henderson: I got to be that grown-up we were talking about.
Jillian Benbow: Yeah, right. It's like turns out I owe a lot of money and I didn't think about it, and that's just one piece. I think something we're going to get into today is a lot about covering CYA, cover that ass, cover your ass and protect yourself, because sadly, we do live in a time where people may want to go after you for whatever reason. In community, it absolutely happens. I hate to be the bear of bad news, but a community member's scorned.
Wesley Henderson: It's the wild west and you got a lot of people out there. Well, you bring up a good point. You're just trying, you're on your idea. Obviously, I've built a couple businesses and have an online, the Drafted Legal. The purpose of that really is to serve that mentality that's like, "Oh, I'll get to it later." We've tried to do it, so it's like, "Well, let's get to it later with a real lawyer when you have money really coming in, things to protect. But in the meantime, let's just check the boxes and make sure we're in a decent spot." We've done it and you get that peace of mind and make sure that you've done the very basic things in a good way, so that as you build, you don't get blindsided with something, so you don't have to spend $10,000 with a lawyer customizing everything when you don't know whether it'll work or not, and that way, your brain is all focused on building that business. It is something you don't want to overlook and I'll spare the horror stories, but we all know that.
Jillian Benbow: Ooh, I don't know. I love it like juicy horror story.
Wesley Henderson: Yeah. Well, you're really planning not for most of the people talking about relationship building it's like people you get along with, they're not going to sue you, they're not going to cause you trouble. But then, you're at the store and you got the person who's yelling at your kid. You're doing a lot of this for the 1% or less than 1%. There's some people that there's nothing you can do that will be right, and they're just going to cause havoc. A lot of this stuff, it's built for them, unfortunately, and it ends up being the cost of doing business is not designing around them, just protecting against them, so they don't harm it for everyone else.
Jillian Benbow: Oh, yeah. I'm not going to get into the details, but I have been harassed, I have been stalked, like all sorts of things for kicking someone out of a community that was very much a part of their identity. They deserved it of course, but people want to make you pay sometimes and it might be over the silliest, silliest thing, but I think it's a control thing like, what can I control? It's like your digital reputation and they go after you. Especially in the states like Freedom of Information Act, things that are ... they're great, but it's also in the wrong hands.
Wesley Henderson: Yeah. It's been years since I saw this, but there was a South Park episode about the food critics and everybody walks in, they're like, "Well, I'm a food critic. I need special treatment," but it was like the rise of Yelp and all this sort of stuff. There's so many great things about being online, but then it also empowers people. They can leave bad reviews. It happens at our law firm, happens everywhere, it's like they have this extra power and you're like, "Hold on, you're in the wrong here. How are you doing this to me?"
Jillian Benbow: Right, and often, we can't say the things that-
Wesley Henderson: The reality.
Jillian Benbow: Or maybe we just, yeah like, "Well, this is what actually happened." I do love a good, when there's just a scathing review and the business has a very, they push back in their reply, but in a way that makes them come out the winner. I don't know how to better explain it, but that's one of my favorite. I like seeing that and not to discount, some people have terrible experiences and businesses are horrible to them, I get that, but you know the ones I'm talking about. I remember seeing a picture of a food sign outside a restaurant and it's like, "Come try the worst hoagie ever made," per that one guy on Yelp or something, and I was like, "Ooh, that's a good way to make it funny."
Wesley Henderson: That's good. Yeah, yeah. Have a little fun with it.
Jillian Benbow: Yeah.
Wesley Henderson: The worst way to do it is to take it too seriously and you're like, "Oh, man! They might have been mean to them."
Jillian Benbow: I think in community, in particular, it's really hard not to take things like that personally, because we put so much of our soul into our work. We want to help people, we want people to have a good time and sometimes someone's not a right fit and you have to take care of it, and it's obviously, every community builder's least favorite part of the job. But then, when people, like you said, there's some people you'll just never do it right, they'll never be happy and it's really hard not to take it personal. Go the Yelp sandwich review way.
Wesley Henderson: For a community, the communities aren't designed to be exclusive in the sense of being exclusive or a lead or high or whatever, but you have to protect the interest of your community by excluding some people. It's not really exclusive, it's just the other way around. It's like, "All right, we're going to cut out"-
Jillian Benbow: Oh, totally.
Wesley Henderson: " ... the 10% of trouble makers to make sure that the 90% get to really flourish."
Jillian Benbow: I do that with Pro all the time, David, community manager for Pro, and myself, going through applications. Someone might be making money. On paper, their business is successful, but we don't accept them, because we know that the type of the business that they have is going to harm what we've created in Pro. It's just not a fit and we're fine with that.
Wesley Henderson: My experience with Pro what you all have done so well is, obviously, been going a long time with Pat and his podcast and everything. The ability to attract people who are truly helpful and genuine, and anytime I ask for something, somebody's helpful, I try to reciprocate. There's a real, real virtual community that's got some soul to it, or it's got some substance. It's remarkable and I'm sure that's why people are listening to your podcast is how to do that in their own way or for their audience. I think a lot of it is who you're attracting and also who you're letting in, which is probably not very fun conversation, but it makes for, where the people who are in can really flourish, so it's hats off to you all.
Jillian Benbow: Oh, well, thanks. Yeah, some people do get in that aren't a fit and we have to deal with it and whatnot. Obviously, we try to protect people's privacy or people just come in and are like, "Where's Pat? I need to talk to him about coaching." We have to be like, "That is not what this is. Here's a refund. Wishing you the best." Yeah, it's a dance and I think anyone building community knows you're always going to have that one person. There's always at least one that comes in and it's just a pain. But in the meantime, you try to be as supportive and kind as you can.
One thing I want to get into, because it's like, I've got a lawyer to talk to for the next half hour like wahaha, and everybody listening, this is not legal advice. Wesley is not your lawyer, but could be, if you need a lawyer. I wanted to circle back, we were touching on it and I think this is something so common, it is people decide they want to start something, so we're going to go with, obviously, the community, because that's what we do here. I think often starting it, it's like a side project, a side hustle, see if I can make this work and hopefully have some monetization component, turn this into what I do. As you alluded to, I think a lot of people in that position, it is very expensive to hire a lawyer to do all the business stuff and it's more like it's an idea, it's whatever, and so people skip the LLC.
People skip even filing with the state, that thing. I'm curious, your opinion, and I'm guessing your opinion is like, "You should still do that stuff," and you can do, I'm just going to plug Drafted Legal because I love it, but if you want to start an LLC, they have a whole package you can do that's not hiring one one-on-one lawyer, it's affordable. There are those options, but what do you recommend to someone who's just trying to test the waters with something, but maybe isn't fully into a business?
Wesley Henderson: Yeah, what's the bare minimum?
Jillian Benbow: Yeah. What should people be doing to protect themselves?
Wesley Henderson: If you've got the capital, I would build in getting a lawyer. You don't really have to think about it. They'll ask you a bunch of questions, you don't have to Google or research, which is a lot of why we did Drafted Legal. It's to get you as close to the simplicity of using a lawyer and get away from some of the automated stuff online, which I think ruins your ability to control your business and know what you have. Here's what I would say are the bases. You want to get an LLC or some type of entity. I'll just say LLC, because it's easier, everybody knows what it is, it's the most flexible, you've got a bunch of different tax filing options, federally, you've got flexibility and they're the least expensive. What that does is it protects you, your personal assets.
Let's say you've been saving money or you've got your car, whatever you have, it separates that from the business itself. What these things do is they encourage, from a policy standpoint, they're encouraging us as entrepreneurs to go build things where we're not risking our whole lives. There's no debtors prison anymore. It's, "Here, I'm going to choose how much money and how much of my time to get risked, and if it goes poorly, that's what I've lost, not anything more than that."
That is what the LLC and the corporations, they're designed to just create their own separate thing, and really, it's like you're working on behalf. Even though you own it, you're working on behalf of it. That alone should give you a lot of peace of mind, and it's also part of, if you're trying to build like an asset, you're trying to build a brand, you're trying to build something of value, something that contributes, you're trying to create this animal that takes on its own life and so you start doing that without LLC, it's inexpensive. Most states are really inexpensive now and there's no ... some of them have annual requirements, some don't. Anyway, that would be step one. That's like everything goes terribly, you still have got this LLC, it's very professional.
The second thing that I think people probably overlook, most people know the LLC, least think about it, talk about it is the name of your business is very important. It's hard to do this early. I've been through this, where I got obsessed with a name, come to find out it's already used, but I know how to look for it and I know about it, so I just moved on very quickly. Don't fall in love with your name until you know that it's available. What that means is you can go on our website, we've got a Drafted Legal, and you got to start here. There's a PDF that'll teach you how to look for trademarks and whether your name's available.
What you want to do is come up with a handful of names and try not to fall in love with one of them that you have to use, and you have to make sure that someone else isn't using your name in your industry. This is where the cease and desist come from. It's like, "Hey, you are using my name." You might be in Idaho and not even online, but have a trademark and once you make it popular, somebody's going to forward it to him and be like, "Hey, did you know Joey's Bagels is working online and people start to get confused," and they can make you change everything. It's a rebranding that's caused ... Because by the time somebody finds out, that means you're doing well, and it costs nothing to avoid it.
The second part of that would be as you're building your own community. First, make sure you're not infringing on someone else. The second thing is to have a plan to protect yours. That means filing a trademark and then also doing copyrights on important, on your works, like if you have an ebook or a course, and really that consists of one or two things. You can just put the copyright notice and that gives you copyright protection or you can file it federally and that allows you to sue somebody who steals it. There's a lot of stealing. If you're on Instagram, it's like, I talked with someone the other day and they were like six accounts or something created to mimic them and just took their profile and all stuff and just started selling their stuff. It's insane.
Then I followed this personal finance guy and he keeps posting them and there's like 20 of them and it's non-stop. It's very difficult, because there's no classic disputes like me and the business across the parking lot, walking to a courtroom and make our pitch. The problem with online is you're never going to find these people, and if you do, they're in a different country, you're like, "What are the ...", it's totally nuts, and so there's no great way other than to try to be as protective as possible. It's one of the reasons I like the trademark and getting the copyright, because you're really trying to go above their heads. You're going to go to Instagram, whatever the platform is and say, "Look, these people are stealing from me. They stole my idea, look. Here's my trademark." Otherwise, it's like, "Well, who's who? Who's to know?" You can be like, "Here's my trademark with my LLC," boom, boom, boom! "This is mine, take them down." I think that's important to establish some of that ownership early on.
Jillian Benbow: That's a really good call. I hadn't thought about that, because when I think about the wild west of the internet and people, they're stealing identities even. Tom Ross, who was a guest a while back on this show, he has the Learn.community. Has a book about community, we've become fast friends. I've gone to his community to do stuff, he's come to Pro recently to talk about community, we're community buddies. I got a follow request on Instagram from him and I was like, "I thought we already followed each other," just the typical, so I was like, "Yeah, sure," and then followed him. Then he started DMing me about crypto.
Wesley Henderson: Yeah.
Jillian Benbow: I was like, "Is this a crypto MLM?" I was like, "Yeah, no." But then I looked and was like, "Wait a minute." He had all of his posts and I was like, "There's no comments or likes. This isn't right," so I finally just told, I was like, "Tom, are you selling crypto?" He's like, "Ugh," because it's happened to him several times.
Wesley Henderson: Yeah. He knows it.
Jillian Benbow: One, I was relieved he wasn't. I was like, "Don't get into the crypto MLM stuff."
Wesley Henderson: Yeah, and don't ask me if you're into it, keep it separate.
Jillian Benbow: Then I realize, I think someone else did that and I was just like, "Nope." I didn't realize it was fake.
Wesley Henderson: Yeah. I keep seeing it on people posting it and they'll follow the conversation.
Jillian Benbow: Yeah. Well, yeah. I was embarrassed that I fell for it. I was like, "Oh my gosh!"
Wesley Henderson: The scams, even at our law firm, we have them where I can spot them a mile away, but it's probably two a week and what they try to do is get money, like fake money into your hands and then be like, "Oh, overpaid," and then they try to get you to write a check and it involves trust accounts and stuff. The first time we walk through it'd just be like, "All right, we got to know what's going on here." We're like, just play along and $160,000 check just shows up in our law firm the next day and we're like, "This is insane." It looks just like it's perfect, everything is buttoned up." We could just a little off, and so anyway, it's good to pay attention to them because you know what people are doing, but the scams are everywhere and they're never going to stop.
Jillian Benbow: Right. Even though this is a sidebar, but it's hot [goss] , like what did you do when you got the fake check? It's pretty bold to send it to a law firm also.
Wesley Henderson: Yeah. Well, it's surprising how much, because they try to use your trust accounts. There's a lot of stealing from trust accounts and law firms, people who do real estate transactions, because there's a lot of ... everyone's money, banks' money and other people's money in there. The other thing they do, when we got it, we were just amazed with how real it looked, it was overnight FedEx, but it was FedEx from seven doors down. We were on Broad Street and the address was seven doors down, and we're like, "That's an odd thing to do." Then we just looked at it and we're like, "There's no way we would know other than just it smelling a little bit off." But the check itself looks like a big old check.
Jillian Benbow: Wow!
Wesley Henderson: Looks like a normal check you write except for more zeroes on it.
Jillian Benbow: Ugh, man! Yeah, wow. Well. Copywriting and trademarks makes a lot of sense. If someone's just doing part-time, let's say they use a platform-like Circle, they have a community where people are paying, I'm assuming is getting money like line in the sand, in your opinion, as far as the kind of structure you need like actually having a business versus like a DBA or something?
Wesley Henderson: Yeah, I think so. I think definitely money and I would even say, if you're putting real time into it, if your real intent is, "Hey, I'm going to go build something," whenever that moment is, I think sometimes formalizing it is this crossing the Rubicon in a different context moment. It's like, "All right, I'm actually going to do this. Let's get the hell ... " and it's like, "Hey, it's go time. I've been thinking about this every run I've done and jot these notes down and have whatever, it's now time to do it." I would encourage people, anytime you're starting to get it going, definitely by the time you're getting money, but even before you're getting money, you could still have risk out there. You could put a piece of content out there that someone tries to sue you for talking bad about them or they follow the advice and it caused them damage or they're saying you infringed on them, you didn't know about it. You're still wanting to protect that early on.
I think money would certainly be your last spot. If you're there, you definitely need to have gotten an LLC. Part of it is everything you're building, you want to be in that LLC, so if you do get a trademark, you want to be in that LLC. The copyrights, the website, all this stuff going towards the same business asset.
Jillian Benbow: It makes sense. As you're saying, I'm like, "This is so logical," but I also have many at times bought a URL or had an idea, I'm like, "I'm going to do this thing." At no point is the LLC part front of mind. It's more just the, "Ooh, shiny."
Wesley Henderson: One of the problems with it is there's a little bit of confusion online. You type in LLC and it's like S-Corp, Delaware, all this stuff that's like just like everything else. Some part, there are scenarios where that's good advice, but most of the time it's just sales. It's just someone marketing being like, "Hey, you should be in Delaware." They have great business courts and for years, they were on the forefront, but that is really for people looking to invest to raise millions of dollars, because investors know Delaware's courts and they know their laws, so you're being attractive by being like, "Hey, you don't have to learn South Carolina, where I live. You don't have to learn our laws. I've got you set up in Delaware, your shareholder rights, you already know them," and you're just helping your pitch but for community building or running your business, you just need an LLC in your state and move on. Four years from now you need to change that, you can change it.
Jillian Benbow: If you're making those big investor bucks and want to ... that's interesting. I've heard that. It's like what? At Delaware? I think Wyoming might be on the list.
Wesley Henderson: Delaware, Wyoming, Nevada, and the S-corp thing is a totally a misnomer. It doesn't have anything to do with the LLC, it's all about how you file taxes. That's IRS selection, so you can file as an S out of an LLC or a corporation. It's not an LLC or SCorp. That's just a confused thing that is all over the internet.
Jillian Benbow: I'm very confused most of the time, but from what I gleaned is just start with an LLC, not an S Corp, C Corp, because those have much more complicated taxes and requirements, LLC is a little easier.
Wesley Henderson: But again, you can be an LLC that files as an S. An S is awesome for taxes. I'm not a tax lawyer or guy, but you save on your distribution, so you don't pay in wages, you save all the employment taxes, so it's like 10%, 12% that you get to keep in your pocket as an owner more. If it applies to you, you get to make more money, so everybody likes that. But you can do that out of an LLC. You can file your LLC and then go to your accountant and be like, "Hey, should be an S?" They'd be like, "Yes," and then you do it. You're not prohibited there. You have tons of flexibility.
Jillian Benbow: Yeah, that's good to know. Well, and it goes into, again, if you want to start a business, this is how you really do it. You need legal protection, you need someone who understands how to file taxes, you got to pay money to make money in many ways.
Wesley Henderson: Yeah. I would definitely say you want to be jumping in the accountant world early on. We always tell people your money, just because it surprises people depending on where you are in life, how comfortable, some people are starting really young and aren't haven't played the taxes game. But to put 25% away, if you're not talking to an accountant just for whenever taxes come just so that you're in an okay spot. We, one time, were paying someone in our law firms right out of school and asked someone else and was like, "I think the Math is messed up here. My check is like not right." We had to sit down and be like, "These are taxes. This is the thing you keep hearing about."
Jillian Benbow: Oh dear!
Wesley Henderson: It was just a different frame of reference there. Everybody's coming in with a little different experience, but definitely put some money away, 25% is a good rule of thumb.
Jillian Benbow: That's a good number, yeah. Yeah, I think I want to say, if I'm doing consulting or anything, I usually do. I always do more than I think. I mean my husband, if he's listening, because he's the math man. We're always just like, "Better to overshoot it than owe money."
Wesley Henderson: Every relationship needs one of those.
Jillian Benbow: Yeah, and it's not me. Even better when it's not me.
Wesley Henderson: Yeah.
Jillian Benbow: Yeah. What you said about the youngin that came under, that got to learn real life stuff, that reminds me of, we all remember the-
Wesley Henderson: Those are taxes. I didn't take that from you, someone else did.
Jillian Benbow: Right? Yeah. It reminds me of in school, "The mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell," we all got that one, but when it comes to life skills.
Wesley Henderson: Yeah.
Jillian Benbow: No class.
Wesley Henderson: Yeah. I've got the mitochondria on the nucleus down.
Jillian Benbow: Yeah. How about these taxes? How does this work? I wanted to switch gears and talk about my favorite thing, which is community guidelines. They are so important in community. They're not necessarily a legal document per se, but I wonder they could be. It's like an agreement, right?
Wesley Henderson: Yeah. I think you're right. I got two little things to pick up there. One, yeah, it is. But two, also you don't have to be a lawyer to write agreements. I think that's important for people to know. Reaching it, there are oral agreements, those are real, they're enforceable. The standard in most states is, there's elements that you need, but it's basically, are you on the same page called a meeting of minds? It is enforceable. There's no magic pixie dust that the lawyers do anything differently. What you're looking for is clarity and to protect the business.
When we're using our law firm and doing something for somebody, we have to go learn that industry. You could write someone who has more experience in a community, he would write better community guidelines than 90% of lawyers in Charleston. You have to know the industry to do it and you can do it. The lawyers just happen to see all the lawsuits, we're involved in lawsuits, and so you see that 1% we were talking about earlier. You tend to see a little bit how it plays out and that can inform those other 10 clauses that you never want in there. That's what that does.
Jillian Benbow: Yeah. Well, I'm interested. I'll tell you what we're doing and you tell me what you think. We use Circle, everyone knows as our platform and circle has their own terms of service and I'm not super familiar, so I can't really get into that, but terms of service separate from community guidelines, just for everyone listening, depending where you have your community, it's a good idea, and I'm saying this to myself too, to look at the platforms' terms of service. I'm guessing you could have your own additional terms of service for your-
Wesley Henderson: Your users.
Jillian Benbow: Whatever you're doing on said platform. We can talk about that, but also how we do it, and we recently changed this. When you go to apply to SPI Pro, in the application, you have to check something saying that, "If you join, you agree to abide by our community guidelines." We have that paper trail. Before we had that, what we did is we have the community guidelines, it's part of our onboarding, and then we have a new member challenge, which isn't mandatory. I can see the loopholes here, but it isn't mandatory, but if you're going through it, one of the steps, and I know this is super cheesy as a lawyer, you're like, "Wow! This is ... "
Wesley Henderson: Then you respond and say, "Yes, I agree," something like that. Yeah, yeah, I remember.
Jillian Benbow: Yes. Yeah. You read them and then in the comments you say, "I agree," which again, it's-
Wesley Henderson: Yeah, it's a much improved way you all are doing it, as affirmative as you can make it the better. Making someone look at it, you'll do those sometimes or they're, "Nope, you can't hit I agree until you scroll through." You know what I mean? You get on those sometimes, that thing and at least make them. Don't pre-check it. Make them check it, make them sign it, make them take an affirmative act. I don't hate the, "Yes, I agree," other than it's not mandatory and you do it after the fact, you're still, it's your forum and you can have some rules, so I don't think you're in the most dangerous place. A lot of this stuff is just making it easy as possible on you. When you have that agreement signed, you can show it to Joe angry user and be like, "Look, you agreed to it. You violated, it is what it is, sorry," and you can point to it and it's easy.
Without that, they're like, "Well, I never signed anything." It just gives them a bunch to yell about when you have it that clear. It's like, "There's still people who are going to fight, but sometimes they're like, "Yeah." They're going to yell, send that one email, but you're not going to hear from them again because they know they got a loser. They got a losing case. It's just they got nothing to go on. They've already signed that they would do it. I would also make sure there was always ... there's a couple of things on those rules you want to take from whatever the general ones are. You do want to customize these as much to your audience and your rules.
Some people, you might be able to cuss in some, some you may not be able to cuss, some may have younger, some may have older, so you do want to tailor it. Those generic ones get a little uncomfortable with because they're so generic that it's hard to ... it's the integrity of them because they're just so whatever, it goes to everything, you're going to be following 10%, 20% of it. You're oftentimes better off with something you're following all of and missing than just having some 40-page thing.
One thing I'd say is you want to also make sure it says, "Whatever state you're in, there's a governing law one, so everybody's all over the state maybe country. But let's say you and I are getting some spat over SPI and there's no ... it doesn't talk about where a state would go and I sue SPI in Charleston. Then you all got to what? Fly here and come deal with some whatever? It's just the leverage quite a bit, so you want to make sure things like that are in your home state.
Jillian Benbow: We're international too. Our base, our member base, that's a whole other layer. Just as a side note, I have been following, there's these YouTubers that are getting into lawsuits with business partners or even people for libel and stuff and yeah, what state it's filed in and then getting refiled, it's a mess. I don't think people think about that.
Wesley Henderson: They move venue. It's a big thing with big, heavy lawsuits. What people are doing is they're searching for states with better case law and then within the states, they move them around for who would be the most friendly to their side like the jury. Some of it's guesswork, but it can go on for years trying to find, trying to fight over just venue.
Jillian Benbow: Oh, totally. Depending how petty you are, people are moving to states, so that they can file in those states. This is serious. I'm not a YouTuber, but dang.
Wesley Henderson: It does bring up too. Your biggest risk here in the community is people stealing other people's ideas. We're talking about you're stealing someone's account, you get in, you're saying things that offend other people. What your community members do to each other becomes your biggest risk of anything else. You then become implicated to users and you're like, "Hey, you, as the owner, did nothing. You didn't set rules, you didn't do anything." What you're trying to avoid is being negligent or empowering someone so that if someone was, let's say somebody lost their million dollar business. Well, they're going to hire a lawyer and start suing people and you're going to get named, the community person's going to get named and the other person's going to get named.
This is where you want to have those guidelines that were really clear and be, "Look, we said share information at your own risk, we ask everybody to hold confidentiality, but you're in a community, there's limits to that, but you also want to have, I would say, you back that with a moderator who's watching, removing stuff, removing vulgar, things like that. You want to make it really clear about what the users can expect. You don't want someone to end up getting wrong and be, "Well, had I known you didn't enforce this or had I known that you didn't moderate, had I known someone was going to steal it, I would've never said anything." You want to put the decision-making, make the users decide whether to put the information out there, make the users have to make that decision.
Really, you're just trying to be transparent like, "Hey," maybe it's a website or not, we don't know what everybody's going to say. We hardly know who the people are or their background. We're doing our best here, but there's limits. You want to put those disclaimers, get a signed agreement. I think a lot of it would be stealing. That's what I would think the primary problem aside just in lawsuit wise. The community side would be keeping camaraderie, keeping people from being nasty, making, creating that SPI-type experience. The lawsuits, I would be primarily, I would think, stealing other people's content, defaming them, things like that. What else do you all see?
Jillian Benbow: Yeah. I think harassment, we don't see this at SPI but just in other places I've worked. Harassment and-
Wesley Henderson: Stalking all the-
Jillian Benbow: Yeah, and inappropriate, trying to get people offsite, if you will. These were more anonymous, public, free type communities, so they're be a mess.
Wesley Henderson: Mm-hmm, yes.
Jillian Benbow: It's trying to get people's information, whether it's their phone number, whatever, to then talk to them offline and either dox them, find, get their personal information.
Wesley Henderson: Yeah. You would definitely want to have these sexual harassment policies.
Jillian Benbow: Mm-hmm[affirmative].
Wesley Henderson: Our law firm does a bunch of employment law with employers and it's like, "We do training." It's like, "This is what it looks like and you can't put up with it one time." A lot of it, it's leadership. You got to have the policy, but also, if you have the policy and you let it slide, well, you're going to be in trouble. You got to call somebody on it, so you want to set the tone about what you expect, so you want to think through these policies. You don't have to do it with a lawyer, but when you make your rules, you make your values, you make your core commitments, you need to follow through with them.
Like you mentioned earlier, it's not easy. There's a little bit of toughness that it takes to it. You're going to have to tell someone politely and know that they're going to come after you and email you and give you a bunch of pushback, but you have to. It's just the cost of running it. Hopefully, you get bigger before all that stuff comes, so you have a team to help you work through it. But there is a leadership element that sets the tone for what's allowed and what's not allowed and it bolsters those policies. Think of an employer who has a sexual harassment policy and someone's getting sexually harassed. I'm like, "Oh, that's just Tom Foolery. Don't worry about it. Like, this doesn't really mean anything does it?"
Jillian Benbow: Yeah. As you're talking, it reminds me too. You have to establish back to relationships. You need a relationship with your community members of trust, so that they feel comfortable coming to you when these things happen. I think that is also, in an employer environment. If I don't trust who I need to go to, because of a situation like that, so I'm not going to tell them, especially if it's something like a crypto MLM that maybe I realized too late. Like, "Oh, shoot! I'm neck deep in a scam." Then, to have to come forward and be, "Hey, so I fell for something really dumb and I'm in a lot of ... it's exploded and I need help and I'm really embarrassed."
Wesley Henderson: Yeah, and in a community, it's a fine line, because you're getting, I assume, peppered with requests, questions. Everybody wants to talk to Pat or whoever they trying to get through to. But you, at the same time, want to have a mechanism where you encourage people, "Hey, yeah, you're you don't get free Pat advice or whatever, but if someone's treating you inappropriately, we need to know." It's a challenge, how do you get somebody to come do that? I think that the SPI creates that community with its leadership through everyone I've worked with, you, Jillian, it's like setting how you treat people, so it encourages that thing. But it's hard to be like, "Hey, don't contact me ever, because I'm getting a thousand messages a week."
Jillian Benbow: As a community builder, part of what you do is you spend time talking to people and building relationships. I would rather people come to me too much than not enough. Sure, there's a whole other conversation about boundaries and whatnot, but that's what I do. I do think, and we do this and I think I'll get on my soapbox for a second, yay! But it's so important to think about like you have to educate your community members on one, the expectations of behavior, like there's digital etiquette and I'm noticing, this is a conversation my team's having in the background a lot right now, that I think we're going to start talking to the community about is digital etiquette and what that means and sharing what is appropriate to share in a community like SPI Pro, because we do sometimes have stuff that we pull and we're talking to whoever posted it. They just don't have the sense, if you will.
I don't think it's their fault, it's just, they need to understand what digital etiquette means. This is not Facebook. You don't just put your thoughts out there. We have fun, we have off topic comments and stuff, there's a specific place for it. It's that education piece and just making sure your community is aware of like, "Hey, this is what's okay, this isn't, this is what's not okay." That's, of course, where community guidelines can come in.
Wesley Henderson: Yeah. That's a good point. I had written down a few notes and one of them like a best practices is like onboarding could call it whatever. Out of our law firm, when we work with a business, what we do is we train on thing. We train people. This is the same thing. Sometimes we assume that everyone has the same digital experience. You're saying etiquette, for a long time, was shared out in the normal world. We all say hello and someone says hello back, your regions are a little bit different, but it's generally, we're all on the same page about how you eat a meal together.
Digitally, it seems to be like, "All right, everybody has totally different standards about what we're talking about, what we can say, pictures we can post," things like that, so I do think educating me like, "Hey, this is what we expect and how respectful we expect you to be." What I'm gleaning from you some of that is staying on topic to what the community's for. It's not necessarily just like your best friend chit chat conversation. It's like, "Hey, let's stay reasonably on topic, have the right judgment to make a joke here or there," or whatever. But I think some of that, like an onboarding process, a training thing, in addition to getting them to sign stuff and having guidelines.
Some of that too is maybe not calling people out, but it's like using teaching moments because everybody, you'll constantly be growing. There will be different moments, politics and different stuff coming up and you'll just have to always be addressing them. It's part of the challenge of building a community like this. It's a very rewarding, but it is certainly, just like you're saying, your job is primarily working with people and helping make sure they have a good experience and hearing them out.
Jillian Benbow: Yeah. That's what we have in our community guidelines. We also have our moderation policies. Not everybody does this, I think I wish everyone did for the reason that it explains how we deal with things so people know what to expect. It starts with, "Hey, we'll probably just reach out and say and remind you like, 'Hey, we have this guideline, check it out. Here's the situation.'" But in there, we even say we have the right to remove anybody from the community at any time, because if somebody comes in, lack of a better term, guns ablazing and is just disruptive, is obviously a bad actor, I'm not going to give you three warnings. I'm kicking you out of the community. I'll tell you that I'm kicking you out. Yeah.
Wesley Henderson: That's good. It's a good policy to leave it subjective on that, because you want people in there obviously. Sometimes people have what's called progressive discipline, and it's like, first strike is this, second strike is this, and for the exact reason you just said I encourage people away from those and be like, "You can be subject to discipline, including termination of your account," where it's just totally subjective in terms of if you violate our rules, we can pull you from it. You need to have that. People sometimes forget what freedom of speech is. It's not in someone's private community. It's not like, "Hey, I can walk around saying whatever I want everywhere I want, I can protest my government," but I can't go and tell, there's a private community that was established by someone else, I don't get to go just say, "Hey, I can say whatever I want, wherever I want and defend whoever I want."
Jillian Benbow: If I had a nickel for every time someone told me I was violating their 1st amendment right by removing their post, I'd have a very big jar of change or at least a sock full that I could-
Wesley Henderson: Yeah, knock them with.
Jillian Benbow: Yeah. Let's talk about this, because this is something that a lot of community builders face when moderating and is the, "You're violating my constitutional right." The best is when someone from a different country says it, it's like, "I don't think that's." If you were me, if you're a community builder and had to remove someone's content for violating your community's policies or whatever and someone came at you with that, what's a simple way to shut it down?
Wesley Henderson: What I would respond with, I would say a sentence like this. "I think you misunderstand where your freedom of speech applies and where it doesn't. You agreed to our rules and this is what governs this community."
Jillian Benbow: That was gold. You just dropped a golden nugget. Well, and yeah. Okay. I'm going to have that. I don't know about other community builders, but I often have a document of copy/paste responses like that, specifically those things, so I don't have to remember it, and so when I'm in the heat of it, it's just like copy paste and modify as needed, but yeah. The 1st amendment in digital communities is one of those things where immediate eyeroll for me. Now I have a super, a great way to come back at it, because I think I probably say things a little too snarky like, "You want to look up that amendment or that Constitutional right?"
Wesley Henderson: Yeah. Do you know where that one is? It sounds like you're just angry and yelling things.
Jillian Benbow: Yeah, remind me where we're talking about critiquing the government here. Yeah, censorship, 1st amendment, those are the go-to "I am triggered by you taking action the way you said you would respond to a community."
Wesley Henderson: Yeah. I guess the snarkier way could be to send to a civics website maybe and be like, "Take a look and then come back."
Jillian Benbow: Yeah. Who are the people that did like-
Wesley Henderson: No, but I mean, I do think having preset responses is probably good. We always coach people up on this 24-hour rule. You in your position wouldn't have that luxury, but when people are in these spats, it's like how do you avoid disputes. Or a law firm, unfortunately, there's a lot of disputes among partners, among businesses, and once things turn south, they don't ever come back. Once somebody sends that one email, it is very difficult to revive that relationship or even avoid the bigger dispute because one hot head out of the four or five people, whether it's one of the lawyers or one of the people, what you're trying to do is avoid whatever the dispute is from becoming something you got to talk about for the next year or two years or even week.
We always encourage, "You can write the email, just wait a day, rewrite it and then ... " You always want to remember, "Hey, I might be holding this up in front of somebody," and also you want to control your emotions enough to always be respectful, because whatever someone else is saying is more about them than it is about you, so you just want to remember that even though it feels personal at times, it's like, "This is probably less about me, so I don't need to take the bait on it." I usually say use as fewer words as possible, because sometimes they're just looking for somebody to engage.
Jillian Benbow: Yeah. I hold a similar policy with myself, because if I respond angry, I'm going to scorch the Earth, like there's no coming back. I'm your worst nightmare as a client with that, so I write the scathing, just full-in, petty-as-hell email. Do not put it like in a two-part. Don't put any email in there. Don't put it in because you're testing fate and you're going to lose, and then I delete it and then I come back.
Wesley Henderson: Yeah, I think that's good. For years, becoming a lawyer, I started off doing, working as a corporate law in this big regional firm and just quit it because we have more of this entrepreneurial world. But anyway, just working in it, the way people talk is just like, it's almost like they're, it's just the way they talk. It took me a while to getting used to, but it's so aggressive and so attacking I'm like, "I would do that." Now, I'm just accustomed to it and know that this is just how they ... a lawyer might write something for their own client, not really coming at you, and then you just get used to it as you grow up a little bit more. Certainly, I use that for many years, the type and delete.
Jillian Benbow: Yeah. I think it's smart. In community, I think a lot of times you need to nip things in the bud as they're happening and that helps stop a situation. There are many situations I intentionally leave time between responses, because it can easily turn into a, "This person replied then that," and it's like fighting over email or message or whatever. I think it's a good policy when you can do it in community. We could talk forever, but I want to be mindful of your time, so we're going to do some rapid fire. It'll be easier than the LSAT, there are no wrong answers, and then we can wrap it up. I want to send people to Drafted Legal because you have some great ... I think your Start Here page frankly is the best. It's such a good place to start, it's amazing. There's so much to do.
Wesley Henderson: We got a code too for the audience who wants to use it.
Jillian Benbow: Ooh! Okay. Hold on to that, let's do rapid fire and then we'll give that at the end. Are you ready?
Wesley Henderson: I am ready.
Jillian Benbow: All right. Wesley Henderson, when you were a wee boy throwing up, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Wesley Henderson: A basketball player.
Jillian Benbow: Nice.
Wesley Henderson: Unfortunately, I'm 5'10" and not particularly fast.
Jillian Benbow: That's okay. That's okay. Lawyer is a good alternative. How do you define community?
Wesley Henderson: I would probably start with a group of people with shared trust and respect. I would inch from there on a shared interest or some bond. You have your physical community, my neighborhood, I would consider your traditional community here online. I have a community of social friends, where we have shared usually values, a lot of times recreationally playing, hanging out together, spending time. I would say, you don't want to necessarily say shared interest, but I think it's more that trust and maybe some shared vision of where you want to be going, because a lot of times, I've great friends who, we don't do the same things together, I would consider them my community, but a shared respect and trust and I think that would be where I would be aiming at.
Jillian Benbow: I love it. I love it. Okay. Proverbial bucket list. What is something on your "bucket list" in life that you have been able to do?
Wesley Henderson: This would sound a little cheesy, but it is true as like I'm married with three children, and that is going pretty well. I come from a single mom family, and so having that super stable marriage has been probably the biggest thing, I would say. It's proven to be super important and a good thing to focus on. I would say that would probably it.
Jillian Benbow: That's so sweet. Are you going to make your spouse listen to this and be like, "Just fast forward to this part"?
Wesley Henderson: No, I'm not. It sounded too cheesy to let her listen to.
Jillian Benbow: She'd love it. Okay. Then, flip side, what's something on this "bucket list" that you haven't done yet, but you hope to?
Wesley Henderson: It would probably be, I've recently ... I know you and Smiley were teasing about golf hobbies as you get older, but I've recently gotten into golf. Maybe that's a cliche lawyer's own thing, but I love it.
Jillian Benbow: You live in Charleston, you have to golf, it's like a rule.
Wesley Henderson: Yeah. I would love to take my three boys who are all super young, so it's like 10 years from now to Scotland and play a bunch of golf for like two weeks and hike around and play golf one day and hike one day. That would be something I intend on doing.
Jillian Benbow: I love it. If you want friends to come, let me know.
Wesley Henderson: Yeah.
Jillian Benbow: Scotland, anytime. I love it so much. What is a book that you just love, that you like to recommend, that you read recently, that you thought was really good? What's a book you're loving?
Wesley Henderson: I'm actually reading a book right now about, this is not going to be for your audience, but there's a golf resort called Bandon Dunes out in Oregon. It's somewhat interesting because this old Scottish golf is this very raw, it's very natural. It's not manicured. You immerse yourself in it, and so you're talking about today with COVID and it's like, how do you really build those relationships? How do you step away from social media? For me, that is, I've got kids, you go for three and a half hours and you immerse yourself and you're with friends. Anyway, this place was created basically trying to mimic Scottish golf, which is a little more raw compared to American golf, is a little more manicured and a little more pretty and a little bit all this stuff. It was built in the middle of nowhere and this guy just did it and everybody's like, "He is going to fail," and everybody loves it. People like to go walk and really dive in. That would be recreationally, I guess, what I'm reading.
I think the Simon for business, like the Simon Sinek Start With Why book is like, it just starts your brain, I think, in a good place. If you're going to start a business, it's like thinking about your purpose, not as a gimmick like, "Hey, how does Apple do it to win over people?" But really, just making you be more introspective, like what particularly for communities just making you think about it for hours, what is my purpose here? Not that you have to go find the perfect one, but to challenge yourself to push it a little bit farther, because those are the ones that tend to take off because there's a core, there's a depth to it. I think it encourages people to think about it, particularly, community versus a service-driven or product-driven. I think a community is really about that why, and I would say that's probably a good, easy fun read to do on the business side that has, I guess, been around a long time. I remember reading, I haven't read in 12 years, but I remember reading and being like, "All right!"
Jillian Benbow: You're reading, and I have three young children, I fall asleep as soon as I can.
Wesley Henderson: Yeah, I'm there.
Jillian Benbow: Yeah.
Wesley Henderson: I think I was out at 9:30 last night.
Jillian Benbow: Nice. Solid. You live in a beautiful place, if you could live anywhere else in the world, there's no logistical side to this, just anywhere, where would that be?
Wesley Henderson: I do like it here, so if I could live anywhere, I'd probably just stay here, because my whole wife is here. My good friends and everything's here. I would probably, I would say I would just add a place I could go to the mountains. We already have the beach close and I would do, like there's pretty good mountains about three hours west from North Carolina, so that's what I would do. I probably wouldn't move there, but I would just move there in the summer.
Jillian Benbow: I think, yeah. I think the dream for myself anyways, because I live in the mountains, I want a place on the beach. Mountains and beach, we'll do a house flip or something, yeah.
Wesley Henderson: Yeah.
Jillian Benbow: Yes.
Wesley Henderson: What is your answer?
Jillian Benbow: It depends on the day, it changes. I like if it was a really, actually, probably Scotland or London. I love Scotland a lot. If it's just can be anything doesn't have to make sense, probably maybe the south of France. I'm not in that income tax bracket at the moment. Okay, final question. Wesley, how do you want to be remembered?
Wesley Henderson: It's a good question. I think about this a lot. The young kid thing is like ... I think probably just something along the lines of being a good guy. A lot of it would be how I'm viewed by my kids' family more than some big legacy. I don't look at ... I try to be helpful and do a good job, treating people the right way and that thing would be what I would want my kids talking about.
Jillian Benbow: That's perfect and I'm sure they will. Okay, let's-
Wesley Henderson: Depends on the day.
Jillian Benbow: I feel that. Let's tell everyone where they can find you and that nifty code you mentioned earlier.
Wesley Henderson: Okay, cool. DraftedLegal.com, this is an online website to help with starting a business. It's a little more handholding, has some videos. SPI25 would be the code to get 25% off. You can find community templates for starting a community. You can get an LLC there. You can do templates for many other businesses, if you're a business coach, that stuff, independent contractor, so a lot of the templates you would need. Then, if you needed an actual lawyer, you can go to the About page and it'll take you to our actual law firm, which is my, I guess, day job, like many of you may be doing side things.
This is increasingly becoming more part of my day job, Drafted Legal, and so we're really excited about hopefully it being the next way to help people check off this legal without saying, "Ah, I don't even want to think about it." We want to empower people to be like, "All right. It's not that hard. Keep it simple. I'm not going to give you a hundred different options. Just go hit the basics and go bail your business and then make some money and then hire a lawyer." That's the route.
Jillian Benbow: I love it. Drafted Legal, you're not really a social media person, no?
Wesley Henderson: Not really. We started doing YouTube, so I'd say go to YouTube. There's some videos coming out, but part of, yeah, I don't.
Jillian Benbow: Don't have time for that?
Wesley Henderson: I don't do Instagram. I like the one and done for a while. I don't like the ongoing chore.
Jillian Benbow: Same. I pretty much de-platformed myself of all the ... I just don't really use social media anymore. Takes up too much time. Well, Wesley, this has been fantastic. Thank you so much for taking the time out of your busy, busy day. We'll be sending people to Drafted Legal. It's fantastic. I think I might even be purchasing a couple of these templates soon for a side thing I'm doing, because I'm that person that's like, "I don't need legal documents," and yes I do. Yeah. Have a wonderful day. Thanks for being here.
Wesley Henderson: All right. Thank you for having me. That was a lot of fun.
Jillian Benbow: That's the convo with Wesley Henderson of DraftedLegal.com. I hope you enjoyed it. I did, obviously. I think Wesley's just a great human, but also I love what he's doing and the sad reality is you have to cover your butt. You have to protect yourself just in case. As Wesley was saying, it's the majority of people will be fine and delightful, but there's it's that one. You're protecting yourself against the threat of that one. I do think lawyers see, like he said, he wouldn't get into the horror stories, but you know he has them, and so he's seen the worst. That's the perspective someone who works in law like him, that's what they think about when you ask questions, but like, "Ugh, do I really need to do this?"
He'll think about that one time that it totally blew up someone's life, so figure out what works best for you. I think a lot of us get very overwhelmed, myself included, about just the financial costs of setting up a lot of things that may never, I don't want to say matter, but will never happen. But then when they do happen, that's when you're like, "I wish I would've spent 500 bucks and save myself potentially tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees." You do what works for you is the advice a friend gave a friend long ago and I will continue to say you now are a part of that inside joke, do what works for you.
But I hope this was helpful. I hope it at least gets you thinking about what are the terms of service of the platform you use and are they all encompassing? Something we did not talk about, I wanted to, but we just didn't have time, and it's something I see and I have experience with is it's ages. Do you have a policy in your community for a minimum age? The internet and a lot of laws, existing laws, federal laws, including GDPR, so not just the US, 13 is the magic number, but that changes.
Let me tell you. There are bad people everywhere, probably and definitely in digital communities, who want to prey on children. I hate to end with this, but I just want you to be aware at the very least, think about, and we're doing this at SPI right now, too, there are lots of laws, there are lots of guidelines about how to keep kids safe on the internet. If a 12-year-olds, 14-year-old, for whatever reason, joins your community, maybe they're a budding entrepreneur and awesome, do you have a policy on if they can direct message with other members? Can you see direct messages on your platform? Probably not. That's a very real issue and risk.
I err on the side of don't, like have a policy that you don't allow under 18 in your community. If you want to, consider having a policy about they have to self-declare. Maybe you're gathering birthdays when people join to make sure to verify their age. This is a whole other episode and maybe we should do one, because this is something I think is really important and often overlooked. At the very least consider disabling direct messaging for teenagers, for people who are underage on your platform. I'll leave it at that. If you want to grab a coffee and talk further about why I think that, let's talk. Hit me up, @JillianBenbow on Twitter. Let's talk about it. I think this is a part of community that I've been thinking about a lot, and I think is unfortunately going to be a bigger legal issue down the road for some communities.
On that note, check your community guidelines, check your terms of service. How are you protecting your community members, but also yourself? This has been a wonderful time. I hope you enjoyed talking to Wesley as much as I do, and I hope you go check out DraftedLegal.com, and I will see you next Tuesday.
Learn more about Wesley Henderson at Henderson & Henderson in Charleston, South Carolina, if you're looking for individual legal advice. Or head over to DraftedLegal.com and learn more about all the products and services available. Your lead host for the community experiences is me, Jillian Benbow. Our executive producer is Matt Gartland, our senior producer is David Grabowski, and our editor is Paul Grigoras. Sound editing by Duncan Brown. Theme music by David Grabowski. See you next Tuesday.