Note from Meryl – we met Sarah at the DCBKK conference in Bangkok earlier this year. There aren’t many professional services experts (accountants, attorneys etc) who understand online businesses. We had some great chats with Sarah and were impressed with her knowledge, so we asked her to put together this post on ‘knowing your legals to protect your business’. Take it away Sarah! 

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You’ve Got Your Accounting Set – Now What About Legal?

As a small business owner you know that there are some important steps to take in order to protect your money and your business. At the core of any smart business is a strong legal foundation that will protect your business as you continue to grow.

So today I’m going to give you the legal low down on how to protect your online business. Whether you are selling products, 1:1 services, or software services, there are a few key pieces that you need in place to #protectyourpassion (and your income!).

 

For EVERYONE

No matter your type of small business, there are some things that everyone needs to do if they have a website and are making money from that website (or hope to one day).

Make sure your Website is Legit with a Privacy Policy

A privacy policy is a legally required and NECESSARY part of your website protection. It is basically a disclosure document, the main purpose of which is to inform (and therefore protect) consumers.

Anyone with a website collecting any email or contact information has to have one.

In the United States, because of California law, if you don’t have one, you can get fined $2,500. No thanks. And no, it doesn’t matter where in the US your business is located, because your website shows up in Cali! Canada, Australia, UK, and Europe all have similar privacy laws. A privacy policy is fairly straight forward and you can get an attorney drafted template easily – grab yours!

Anyone with a website collecting any email or contact information has to have a privacy policy. Click To Tweet
 

Protect Your Website with Terms + Disclaimers

So how can Terms and Conditions and Disclaimers help? Well, these documents are about protecting your business and content. The Terms (may also be called Terms of Use or Terms of Service) outline how your website should be used and what people can (and can’t do) with your content, as well as protect your intellectual property (blog posts, opt-ins, videos, etc).

The disclaimers, similar to those in a contract, protect you from liability (that means losing dollars!) should anyone go off the rails and misuse the information you put out there and end up physically, financially, or mentally injured.

 

Google First

When picking a name for your business, product, or service, you want to make sure no one else is already using it in your industry (or you could potentially be opening yourself up to trademark liability).

So Google It. IMMEDIATELY. And don’t just check page 1 – go up to page 10-15 and see if anyone in your industry is using it. This is the quickest way to weed out direct competitors that may have trademark rights.

Wait, what are trademark rights? Meaning someone else already has a claim to that name. If they are in a similar industry and also doing a similar service (online course, membership site, coaching, etc.) they likely already have a legal right to it.

Here are some handy resources to find out more about business name availability in different countries:

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