How to Start an Online Membership
Memberships are a new, exciting service!
It’s still early in the membership community industry so it’s a great time to create your own.
But memberships are heavily regulated so you’ll need to follow the law closely. Here’s what you need to know…
1. Start your company
If you’re operating a business without registering as an LLC or Corporation, you’re taking a big risk. Your personal assets can be taken to pay your business debts. That means you can lose your car, house, and bank account on a product injury, a bad business deal, or a freak accident. Is it likely? Probably not. Is it worth all that risk to save a few hundred bucks on registering? Definitely not. Register your company with the state and follow certain formalities, so only your company assets are at risk.
Youʼll start by completing the state paperwork to register your entity. First, you'll need to decide what kind of entity is the best fit for you.
2. Lock down your brand
A trademark allows you to own your brand. It means you're the only company who can use your company name, logo, slogan, domain name, personal name, product name, or hashtags. Here's why it's key: without it, you can be sued, forced to rebrand, or have your customers stolen by copycats.
Trademarks give you the exclusive rights to use the name nationally. So if someone else registers your trademark, they’ll own the rights to your name nationally. You'll only be able to use it in your geographic region (typically your city). That's not ideal!
Think about how many brand pieces feature your company name: your website, social media, business cards, products, marketing materials, press links, inventory, etc. If you want to operate nationally, you'll need to change all of that + pull back all inventory with the brand on it, or possibly pay monetary damages. You'll lose customers, money, and valuable momentum.
Bottom line: if you’re building a brand, you need to trademark it asap!
3. Plan online courses
If you’re selling an online course, you’ll want to protect it from copycats + competitors first. You should make sure that your course information stays a secret and will not be shared to third parties.
4. Create a website
You need a gorgeous branded website to attract customers + convert them to buyers. You’ll also need a personalized membership terms + conditions to secure your customer service policy.
Thinking it doesn't matter? Think again! Your online policies have a big impact on customer happiness and your bottom line. Plus, they'll need to meet certain legal requirements to prevent fines and lawsuits. It’s especially important for membership companies because some states, like California, have laws about what your policies must say.
Your policy tells customers what they need to know about signing up for your membership. You'll want to spell out the rules for enrolling, how they’ll be charged, and how to cancel the membership.