One of the biggest concerns for small online business owners is legal protection. When you’re first starting out in your business, it may seem like a lawsuit is the last thing you need to be worried about. But it’s always better to be prepared legally for anything that may come your way than caught off guard. How can you protect your business online? What steps should you take to ensure you’re protected?
Here are some steps you can take to make sure your business is legally sound.
The first thing you want to do to ensure your business is protected is to secure your business’ name. This means checking to confirm that your business name isn’t already taken and registered. Taking ownership also includes securing the domain name for your business.
2. Give your business a legal entity
Most online businesses start out as sole proprietorships. There’s nothing wrong with starting this way. Still, as your business grows, it’s wise to consider all the available business structures and possibly reclassify to a better protected structure, such as a limited liability corporation (LLC). Doing so can help separate you from the company and ensure that your personal assets are protected.
3. Monitor your online actions and affiliations
As a business owner, integrity is everything. You never want your customers to be ashamed to do business with you, and you never want to be caught up in some controversy that will put your business in a negative light. Be mindful of your business practices and partnerships, as well as what you publicly post – even on your personal profile.
4. Consider getting business insurance
Another solid (though optional) way to legally protect your business is to purchase business insurance. Business insurance can protect you against liabilities and issues that your business structure may not cover. If you have an online business, such as a membership site that directly offers services to customers, business insurance is a great way to protect your content and assets should a lawsuit occur.
5. Use contracts
If your business offers goods or services to individuals or if you plan to enter into a partnership with another company or entity, it’s always smart to have a paper trail. Contracts are another way to protect yourself and to keep a record of exactly what both parties agree to. If an issue arises, both parties can refer back to the contract for clarity. Contracts can save you a lot of money in the long run – after all, lawsuits and legal fees add up.
6. Add legal documents to your website
7. Become GDPR Compliant
General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a set of regulations put in place to protect consumer data. Although primarily enforced in the EU, these regulations have expanded throughout the world. If you have customers overseas, this rule applies to you right now. Check with your email marketing service to make sure that your customers permit you to use their email addresses. If not, you could pay a hefty fine.