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Inspiring Conversations with Sarah Waldbuesser of Destination Legal

Today we’d like to introduce you to Sarah Waldbuesser.

Hi Sarah, we’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
Once upon a time, I was an attorney working in a law firm in Washington DC. I had just graduated from SLU Law School, passed the bar exam, and landed a job. Despite really liking my coworkers, I knew pretty quickly that law firm life wasn’t for me, I didn’t enjoy the long hours or having to count my time in increments of ten minutes.

It was everything I had worked for… but something was missing. I couldn’t see a future there or in any corner office as a law firm partner.

I had always been a big traveler, craved adventure, and wanted a life outside 4 walls. So after a couple of years as an associate, I returned to school (I love school!) and completed a Master’s in Public Health. With a love of travel, it’s no surprise that I landed in global health and ended up living in rural India for an eye-opening year, working for a small health organization making a difference in people’s lives regionally.

A role at a Washington, DC think tank followed where I focused on public health surveillance and planning for global disease outbreaks in other countries (little did we know then what was headed our way less than a decade later). Although I was able to travel the world, the majority of my time was spent in a windowless office. For many years I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do or who I wanted to become. All I knew was I wanted to be able to travel, have freedom in my life, and make an impact.

Realizing how unhappy I’d become (despite having great friends in an amazing city and my ‘dream’ job), I found myself Googling “travel while you work” and stumbled across a podcast by two online entrepreneurs called the “Tropical MBA” who were also digital nomads traveling the world and working from anywhere.

I knew immediately that this was my future. I had no idea how to get it but just knowing there were people like me out there was such a huge step. Four months later, I left my 9-5. For good.

I spent the next few years building online businesses, at one point I even had an online store selling eco-friendly furniture. I was learning a lot about digital marketing, all the while consulting to pay the bills, and traveling along the way. I traveled to over 15 countries, saw the sunset in Santorini, had lunch in Petra, went caving in Vietnam, rode a gondola in Venice, and ate baklava in Istanbul. All while working from my laptop.

The more online coaches and digital nomads I met, the more legal help I saw they needed because they were constantly asking me for help with one thing or another. I also saw what happened when they didn’t get the right contracts or policies in place… it wasn’t pretty. I saw too many friends get badly burned by not having the right legal in place in their businesses at the right times and knew there was another way!

They were often killing it in growing their businesses but falling into what I knew to be easily avoidable problems that could have been entirely avoided by having appropriate and forward-thinking legal agreements, terms, policies, and contracts in place. Whether it was needing a contract, having to deal with a refund issue, wanting to protect their new online course, or realizing they needed policies on their website – I was getting lots of questions.

In 2015, I decided to settle back down in Chicago. Having previously been introduced to coaching by a life coach I had met at an event, I took a leap of faith and decided to work with her. I was exposed to how many people were doing such amazing things in the coaching world but without the legal protection they needed, and later that year, Destination Legal® was born.

I knew I could make an impact by helping online entrepreneurs build their businesses on a solid legal foundation… and that’s exactly what I do today both through providing downloadable legal contract templates and by helping businesses protect their brands through registered trademarks.

I spent the new few years building Destination Legal, meeting and marrying my husband, and having my first child (it was busy)!

In 2020, I returned to St. Louis from Chicago with my husband and baby in tow. We’ve since added another little guy and just moved from University City to an amazing home in Lafayette Square. Most of my clients today are women and a lot of them are mothers that are building amazing online businesses.

It has become my passion to help them protect their passion (in fact, one of my registered trademarks is #protectyourpassion®)! The more women build lives and businesses they love, the better off we all are as a society.

I’m proud to be a part of creating that bigger impact by ensuring the businesses, livelihoods, and passions of as many people as I am fortunate to help are legally protected in all the right ways.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle-free, but so far would you say the journey has been a fairly smooth road?
I would love to meet an entrepreneur that has had a smooth road! I definitely did not. There are always ups and downs, whether it’s financial and bringing in clients, figuring out how to build a team, or just staying motivated to keep going.

When I first started working for myself I didn’t necessarily want to be a lawyer (because I didn’t love law firm life) so I was toying with other businesses, like selling furniture online. There came a point where I had zero money and had to ask my parents for rent money. They helped but also said – you need to start looking for a job – and at that point, my Dad put me in touch with some law firms in Chicago (where I was living at the time).

Having to brush up my resume and think about going back to an office was enough of a push for me to dive all in on the legal business (where I knew I was needed) and within the first month, I had numerous customers and had made a few thousand dollars. The Universe told me I was heading in the right direction.

Starting your own business is a risky road and you have to be prepared for the highs and lows. The good thing is that it’s never boring! And being in control of my time and having no cap on how much money or impact I can make in the world is what keeps me going.

I love the flexibility of being able to be with my kiddos when needed and make my own schedule.

Great, so let’s talk business. Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
Destination Legal helps coaches and online businesses with legal support for “wherever your business adventures take you.”

We do this through our template shop that has DIY contract templates, terms, and website policies and then I provide services, such as trademark registration packages. The result is our people then feel empowered to put themselves out there, make more money and confidentially build (and keep) a freedom-based business they love.

I am known for being one of the first online attorneys in the space and for really understanding the ins and outs of the coaching industry (which is projected to do $20 billion this year by the way)! My audience tells me this and I’m happy to hear it, and that’s that I make legal easier to understand and not so scary.

So many small business owners are intimidated by big law firm rates and old-school legal practices (like crazy hourly rates and lack of transparency). I wanted my business to be different so our contract templates are super affordable and all of our services are a flat fee. I will tell you exactly what you need and when – I won’t just try to get you to buy a bunch of legal documents you won’t need for a year.

I’m proud of the brand Destination Legal has become and also how it’s evolving. I now offer the digital templates at destinationlegal.com for those just starting out in business and my higher-end services, like trademark registration, at sarahwaldbuesser.com. The longer I’ve been in business, the more my customers and clients have grown as well. What they needed 5 years ago just starting out, is different than what they need today so the brand needed to evolve as well.

Plus, whether we like it or not, as small business owners we are all personal brands and I felt the need to bring more of that in. I’m your legal sommelier over at instagram.com/sarahwaldbuesser – serving up lots of legal tips and the occasional baby pic – which definitely means I’m not your typical lawyer).

Where do you see things going in the next 5-10 years?
I think the coaching and online business industry will continue to grow. We definitely saw that out of necessity because of COVID (working more online) but also with the Great Resignation.

People are no longer willing to settle for a life they don’t love and are looking for ways to find work that inspires them. For many, that means starting a small business or being life, health, business, relationship, or any kind of coach for other people. I love supporting such passionate people in building strong brands.

Marketing online is always shifting, whether it’s the next big social media platform or figuring out how to utilize the ones we have with more creativity. I honestly try not to attempt to predict where things are going, I have enough to worry about right now with learning how to make Instagram Reels, ha!

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