Featured Entrepreneur: Sam Vander Wielen

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I’m so happy to be able to introduce you to November’s Featured Entrepreneur: Sam Vander Wielen!

Sam is an attorney-turned-entrepreneur who empowers women to make sure their business is legally-legit, and when I first began talking with her I knew she was someone who was going to be able to help tons of entrepreneurs!

Today I’m talking with Sam about how online entrepreneurs can make sure they are protected online (legally) and the struggles about switching from corporate life to entrepreneurial life.

I know you’re going to love her!

Hey Sam! Thank you so much for being here to answer questions today on my blog. Can you tell my audience a little bit about yourself?

Hey Dana! Thanks so much for having me here. I’m an attorney-turned-entrepreneur and Founder of Sam Vander Wielen LLC. I help passionate entrepreneurs confidently create businesses they love through my DIY legal templates and legal mentorship.

I made the jump to full-time entrepreneur about a year ago. It’s been an amazing adventure! It’s not all sunshine and rainbows, but the tough stuff is worth it because of how rewarding the work is.

I live outside of Philadelphia with my husband, Ryan, and love coffee, traveling, getting hygge, and reading.

What made you want to leave your corporate job and become an entrepreneur?

I was a corporate attorney for nearly 5 years before I left to start my own company. There were two main issues with my career as an attorney: the environment and the purpose of the work.

I didn’t love the environment because it felt negative and unhealthy, which are really not consistent with my values. I also didn’t connect with the purpose behind the work.

I felt like the client’s interests and an attorney’s interests were incompatible. An attorney needs to bill as much as possible, and the client wants something done efficiently and affordably. Because of the cost (the actual hourly fees and unpredictability), a lot of entrepreneurs, and particularly women, were unable to get the legal help they needed.

What was the hardest part about transitioning from working a corporate job to working for yourself?

Great question! I think the hardest part at first was dealing with a lack of structure and a lack of co-workers. I knew I was a social person, but I didn’t realize how much I liked being around other people.

At first, I really felt lonely and wasn’t sure that working from home would work for me. Eventually, I found my groove. I realized I could schedule ‘work dates’ with friends doing similar work and could take advantage of being able to mix up my work environment.

Once I started taking advantage of my new position and really savoring it, everything fell into place.

And what is the best part about being an entrepreneur?

Connecting with and meeting so many new wonderful people! For sure. I felt so lonely as an attorney. I just felt like I didn’t connect with many people in the industry or see eye-to-eye over many things.

Not only is networking good for you and your business, but you can meet a lot of new friends who you connect with on a deeper level in the process. Having a sense of community as a new entrepreneur has been key to success.

You mentioned above that you offer legal templates and coaching sessions, can you give me a little more information on who would benefit from these types of products and why they are important?

Yes! I created DIY legal templates for women running their own businesses so they could have access to affordable templates that are easy to use and understand and fun to fill out. I offer templates for legal documents/contracts like client services agreements, privacy policies, terms & conditions, disclaimers, and more!

Each one of my templates comes with a How-To Video Tutorial of me actually walking you through the template itself, and translating it along the way. My goal is really to empower women to own these documents and be fearless in putting out new content, courses, or services because of it.

Brunette girl in purple shirt sitting at table smiling.

What types of legal issues can online entrepreneurs get into if they haven’t got themselves covered?

Oh boy! Where should we start? So many! I think one of the first places of concern is whether online entrepreneurs are using a solid website disclaimer to let everyone know who they are, what they do, and how they’re qualified (or not). That way, people who visit your site, read your content, try your suggestions, or sign up to work with you know exactly who you are before they do.

The next steps are securing your website with a privacy policy and terms & conditions (especially if you sell something on your site or take payments!) and then securing your 1-on-1 client relationships with a client contract.

If you could offer one piece of advice to online entrepreneurs just starting out, what would it be?

Get clear on what you really want to offer to people/the world and why. Once you’re clear on that, you can get started selling some products or offering a service. But don’t feel so much pressure to have it right from the start. Your products and services can shift and evolve as you grow, as long as you’re clear on your “why” and the purpose behind what you do.

Oh, and take care of the legal side of getting your business up and running from the get go. There’s no rhyme or reason to waiting until you’re up and running.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Stay in your own lane. I really wish I would have focused more on that when I started my first business (a health coaching practice). Be true to you who you are, why you want to be an entrepreneur, and why you started this business.

It might feel like you’re niche is narrow, or that there aren’t many other people out there who love the things you love, but I swear – not only will people identify with you and who you are, but they’re the ones you’ll love working with.

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