Starting an online business means different things to different people, but legal documents are important nonetheless.

To some it means being able to:

  • Contribute to the income of the household or even becoming the breadwinner of the family;
  • Spend time with kids, watch them grow and be a part of their lives everyday;
  • Live the laptop life, travel the world and soak in new cultures all the time.

To me, it means being able to take time away, travel with my daughter and enjoy life, all without impacting my business and income.

Online business can truly help you create a life of freedom, fun and family. BUT…

An online business can also become a source of stress and overwhelm IF you do not have business legals in place.

Many entrepreneurs feel that an online business is just putting up their website and off they go.

Legal policies, business terms and conditions, and client agreements are important for every business.

In fact there are some important legal documents that purely apply to an online business. Not having these legals in place can land you in some serious trouble. Protect yourself now, to save your future self any hassle.

This week’s blog post is all about those must-have business legals.

Firstly, let’s address:

The 3 most important legal documents you need to have in place before you start selling online.

You’ve just got ready to launch your new business and it is just the way you wanted it to be…

  • On brand
  • Perfect photographs to communicate your message
  • A no hype, all value lead magnet or offer
  • Content and offerings that help your ideal clients’ business or life!

You are ready to push that live button and share your small business with the world.

You are ready to make the difference that you always wanted to.

But hold your horses!

You are forgetting that one missing link that can be the difference between you looking like a trustworthy expert in your niche (that you totally are), and someone who isn’t very serious about your business.

That missing link is Website Legals!

In this two part post, I’ll talk about the different kinds of important legal documents that you need in your small business. But let’s start with the 3 most important business legals to have in place BEFORE you sell online.

3 Important Legal Documents To Have In Place BEFORE You Sell Online

So, what are the 3 most important legal documents you need in place on your website before you start selling online?

I have compiled a checklist of legal must-haves that you will need when you start out in your business.

1. User Agreement / Terms of Use or “Terms and Conditions”

A user agreement implies that every user has to agree to be bound by a contract that governs your website. A few quick points to keep in mind that the Terms of Use must inform the visitors about the listed points:

a) how to use the information on the site (for reading, downloading, printing etc.)
b) how NOT to use the information on the site (misusing the code, plagiarism, etc.)
c) who can use the site (define age limit and country restrictions if any)
d) procedures or policies for the site (for example return and exchange policies, complaint policies, copyright infringement policies etc.)
e) the limit of your company’s liability for the site
f) jurisdiction in case of any disputes that can arise relating to the site

Top Tip: The Terms & Conditions or your User Agreement will depend on your business type. Identify if you are an e-commerce site, a service provider or have any other service that needs a customised set of Website Legals.

2. Website Disclaimer (legal disclaimer)

A website disclaimer states the limitations of your liability for the use of your website and the information it contains. Sometimes information that you publish on your website can get outdated or the solutions you offer can be open to misinterpretations by people who visit your website.

If you have contributors working on your website, keep in mind that as the site owner, you are responsible for ALL the content that gets posted on the website, even if it has been posted by a contributor. Ensure that you have a terms of use for the contributors. Enabling this ensures that you will have the right to remove content and make them responsible for any inappropriate content.

A website or a legal disclaimer on your website helps you to protect yourself and your business and the disclaimer type would depend on your business type.

Top Tip: If you are dispensing any kind of advice that can be construed as medical, financial or legal advice, definitely use a website disclaimer.

3. Privacy Policy

When you collect information from the users who visit your website, using cookies or otherwise, it is mandatory to have a Privacy Policy in place.

The Privacy Policy should explain:

a.       how you collect the user’s information
b.      how and where the information is stored
c.       how the user can delete/change or update information
d.      to whom the information is disclosed and for what purpose

Ensure that your Privacy Policy mentions how important it is for you to keep the personal information safe and secure and that it will not be sold without their permission. This will go a long way in creating that first impression of trust with your customers.

Top Tip: Websites that have contact forms or that offer sign-up need a Privacy Policy.

In the age of online scams, phishing and ransomware, customers don’t want to hand out their credit card details or even their emails randomly to anyone. Your customers need to feel safe using your website.

No matter how small or big your business is, if you are selling online or collecting customer data in any way, ensure that your business website has these important legal documents in place so that you can:

  • Manage disputes
  • Minimise conflicts
  • Build trust and credibility
  • Save your future self time, money and hassle.

Are you feeling stuck about what the legal requirements are for your business? 

Are you confused about where to even start?

As a a practicing lawyer who specialises in small business contracts and website legals, and someone who believes in empowering women in business, I would love to help you create brand new customised website legals for your beautiful website.

Book in time to talk to me about the legal requirements for your business.



Shalini x