4 online business legals you must have for startup and beyond!

4 online business legals you must have for startup and beyond!

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I want to talk to you about four essential legals Solopreneurs at Startups need.  It’s not a luxury. You can’t just put it off; it’s something that will provide foundational support for your business in terms of clients working well with you, in terms of getting paid on time, in terms of protecting your business, and allowing it to grow in a way that your business, that your ideas, and your vision is supported and protected.

1. Client or Contractor Agreement

First things first.  All businesses have customers, and many will have contractors of some nature. If you’re servicing clients, be sure that you have an agreement or a contract in place that is easily comprehended, so that both yourself and your client understand the expectations of the relationship, payment terms, and that delivery terms are fair and reasonable.

If you are working with a contractor and you receive a contract that is really difficult to understand, the thing to do is contact them and say, “Listen, I really want to work with you, but I don’t understand your contract. Can you give me a document that is simple and straight to the point?”

People often don’t realise when they create a contract for their clients that they haven’t given much thought to how their message is communicated. So if you ask them for a simpler version, chances are they will provide you with the simpler version and a comprehensible version.

If there are terms in the agreement that you want to negotiate or question, do so BEFORE you accept. It is at the discretion of the contract provider to amend the terms but many will do so to if the requests are within reason.

2. Website Terms of Use

Once you have your website up and running, the second key legal document that you require is Website Terms of Use.

Your website Terms of Use policy is different from your client agreement. Your Website Terms of Use refers to your website. It talks about how people engage with your website. It talks about how you can manage the interaction with people on your website, how you want to deal with the content on your website, what people can download, what they can’t, what they can use it for, and generally their behaviour in interacting with your site. It includes age restrictions, interacting with the site, and the services that you provide through the website.  It’s the document where you also talk about how if something goes wrong with your website and it’s down, that you have disclaimers in place and statements about the liability you take on, or choose not to take on, as a result of that failure of your website or the effect it might have on people’s businesses.

If you need a Website Terms of Use template to follow, click here.

Privacy Policy

The other thing that I think has been front of mind to everyone is your Privacy Policy.  Your Website Terms of Use and Privacy Policies are read in conjunction with each other.

Essentially, if you have any kind of business and you are collecting personal information, you need a Privacy Policy. 

This applies to online and offline businesses. But for our purposes today, we’re talking about online businesses.

Generally, if you have an online business and a website, you want to make that website work for you by increasing the reach, and by attracting, nurturing and converting clients.  That process may involve you building an email list at some point. It may involve you tracking the behaviour of people that land on your site. You may have a myriad of plugins or extensions or shopping carts on your website that collect personal data – even if you don’t use it you still need to disclose this data collection in your Privacy Policy!

The best thing to do is to have a GDPR-compliant Privacy Policy that covers:

  • the information you’re asking for from people
  • why you asking for that information,
  • for what purpose are you collecting that data
  • how you are using that data
  • how you store that information
  • and the data users’ rights in relation to that information once it is in your care or in your possession.

Privacy Policies are topical right now. It’s important because it actually is something that is linked right through your marketing process and through your communication processes
with your client. Anytime you’re asking for information of any kind – an email address, a phone number, any sensitive details – you must have a Privacy Policy available for people to be able to access, read, and understand how you are managing their information. If you don’t have a Privacy Policy yet, check out my downloadable legal templates here.

Business Terms and Conditions

The next document that I want to talk to you about, which is a key document for any business, is your Business Terms and Conditions. Client Agreements can be also called Business Terms and Conditions, they can be called Terms of Engagement, they can be a Service Contract.  These terms are interchangeable and mean the same thing.

I’ve had a number of calls recently dealing with people who are now thinking about their Business Terms and Conditions for various reasons. One person I spoke to today decided that she needs to have Terms and Conditions in place because she now has a list of debtors. The reason she has a list of debtors is because her Terms are not clear at the time of engagement of her service. So she wants something very clear, very precise, to the point, and in line in the Australian Consumer Law and her business processes, that will enable her not to have conversations with people about when she’s going to get paid.

The Business Terms and Conditions may not seem something that you would attend to in the early days of your business, but certainly if you are seeing clients, taking money, dealing with scheduling, having cancellation requests, requests for refunds, working in a field where you’re you are giving advice, where you need to have some kind of process in place for managing feedback or unhappy clients, it’s time to get your Terms & Conditions sorted!

You’re stepping up in your business when you are ready to do that, and you are ready to do that when you are actually seeing clients and you have some indication to yourself about how you want to operate your business – what works for you, what doesn’t work for you.  Provided it’s in line with consumer law, you can run your business how you want.

But it doesn’t mean anything if you don’t communicate that to the client.  Your clients also need to be educated about how best to work with you so that you can produce the best outcome.

 

If you’d like any assistance with customised legal documents for your business, please do get in touch with me, I’d love to help you protect your beautiful business. Alternatively, check out my legal contract templates here.

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