Kinky Business

Posted: May 23, 2014 by Isaac Cross in Advice, Learn Something

So, a few of you may have noticed that CollarMe.com is gone. If you bother to read the blogs and comments, you will know that this is due to a long running business dispute between the site’s two co-founders.

The root of the problem seems to stem from the fact that one of the partners trusted her “friend” to do the honorable thing and did not have a formal agreement in place to protect her interests and assure that she was treated fairly.

Unfortunately, this happens all the time when friends or acquaintances go into business together. Even if everyone involved is acting in good faith, you all might have different ideas about what the best course of action is, and if you don’t have a written agreement in place, there are going to be serious issues.

And within the Kink community, people’s reluctance to do things “on the books” makes things much worse.

Many events, clubs, organizations, and businesses are created and operated without these essential building blocks designed to protect everyone involved and make sure that there is something in place to resolve conflicts.

I can recall at least three instances of major business partner fall-outs  in recent years with local ventures here in the Colorado kink scene. And I know of several more with the potential to blow up at any moment.

So this is me asking all of my friends who run organizations or businesses within the kink community, or who are associated with those who do, to protect yourself. Any agreement you have which involves money, or a substantial investment of your time, needs to be in writing and needs to include the legal names of everyone involved.

Are you buying a space with a friend to host some private events in? Unless you want to be on the hook for 100% of the cost and the liability for anyone who gets hurt, you better have a contract in place.

Are you starting a website to sell some homemade toys? That webmaster who helps you build it might have bought the domain name under their own name, and could shut you down without warning if they decide to. Unless, of course, you have something in writing which establish the employment relationship between you and that the site belongs to you exclusively.

Are you starting a new themed event with a clever name together with five of your best friends? You better have an agreement in place for if you stop being friends. Who gets to keep the name and continue hosting events under it? How is revenue from the event split up?

I am not a business lawyer, and I can’t tell you how these agreements should be set up. All I can tell you is that if you have no agreement at all, you are opening yourself up to serious problems.

So, one way or another, get your deals in writing. And don’t write them with optimistic assumptions about your partners. Write the agreements for the worst case futures and doomsday scenarios, because that’s when you will need it most.

And you need to be ready to enforce it, too. In the case of CollarMe, the person didn’t get a formal contract until after she had already invested years in the project and when her partner violated the agreement, she chose not to pursue litigation. That’s her choice, and fortunately for her, she has other leverage. But if you aren’t willing to take the person to court to enforce the agreement, than you might as well not have one at all.

Kinky business is risky business. Be sure to use protection.

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