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Thursday

8 Ways to Legally Protect Your Online Business!

Starting an online business is an exciting prospect, an opportunity to deliver goods or services to those looking for the solution you offer.

Time, energy, and resources go into creating your online business.

8 Ways to Legally Protect Your Online Business: eAskme
8 Ways to Legally Protect Your Online Business: eAskme

That’s why it’s so important to ensure it’s protected. You can take several steps to protect your online business and ensure that your assets, intellectual property, and commitment are safe.

Not taking these steps can be harmful, both financially and legally.

You can have your intellectual property stolen and used by competitors.

You may be restricted from operating if you do not have the right documents and licenses in place, too.

Tip #1: Form Your Business Officially

When you start a business, there are several processes to complete to protect it. The first is to establish it as a legal business entity.

There are multiple options for your business. You can become a sole proprietor, meaning you are the sole owner. This is the simplest business entity; profits and liabilities pass through to your tax return.

A partnership involves two or more people who operate the business. Usually, all partners have an equal role in the business and are equally responsible for decisions, liabilities, and owners’ actions.

A limited liability corporation (LLC) is the most common business structure. The business is a separate legal entity, and owners are not personally responsible for the liabilities.

You can also determine the tax status you want (sole proprietor, partnership, or corporation) that best fits your financial needs.

You will need to register your business in your state. The registering guidelines vary greatly from state to state. Be sure to file your legal and operating (“doing business as”) name, if required.

Tip #2: Register Your Domain Name

Do you have a great idea for a website name for your business?

It’s best to check to ensure that the domain is not already used by another entity or is owned but not being used.

With the proliferation of websites, the supply of good website names and domains is shrinking fast.

Picking a domain name that aligns with your company name is important and can lend credibility to your site.

Using one of the popular commercial domain registration sites is simple to do. Many commercial web design companies also provide this service.

Integrating your domain name registration with website design also allows you to use domain-specific email addresses (instead of, for example, a Gmail or yahoo address), lets you create subdomains, and makes it more difficult for anyone else to co-opt that branding.

Tip #3: Create and Show Online Policy Documents

When building a website, you want to protect it and your company from liability claims.

To do so, spell out key rules and guidelines and post them.

While some sites offer templates for these guidance and policy documents, it’s always a wise idea to run these by an attorney.

Privacy Policy

Website visitors have a right to understand how your company will use its data.

In recent years, new laws have been passed by the European Union (General Data Protection Regulation), California (California Consumer Privacy Act), and other jurisdictions that give customers extensive rights to know how that information will be used.

Many jurisdictions require online sellers to have a privacy policy that’s easy to understand on their websites.

Doing so shows your visitors that you’re adhering to legal mandates and taking their privacy rights seriously. The policy should outline the following:

  • What data do you collect
  • What categories of third parties do you share data with
  • What tracking techniques are used
  • How data are retained
  • How can visitors request a change or deletion of data
  • How visitors are told about changes to the policy
  • How private information is protected
  • How to contact your company regarding data

Terms and Conditions

How will your business operate online?

Your terms and conditions statement lays out business details that, if omitted, could open you up to liability claims.

Among the key points to cover in your terms and conditions are:

  • Your policies on returns, refunds, and exchanges for products and services you offer
  • Your intellectual property rights and copyright infringement guidance
  • How will you settle legal disputes
  • How your website can be used
  • How your liability is limited

Disclaimers

A disclaimer is a broad legal net that details the scope of your work and obligations.

Having a disclaimer also satisfied a Federal Trade Commission regulation.

The information in your disclaimer may include the following:

  • What are the limits of your liability are
  • What are you responsible and not responsible for
  • Discloses relationships you may have with third parties, such as affiliates
  • Disclaims liability for the information in third-party links on your site

Tip #4: Trademark Your Property

A trademark is a legally binding indication that you own various types of intellectual property, such as a design, logo, word, symbol, phrase, or a combination of these items.

Having your intellectual property trademarked is an important step to protecting things that are a part of your brand.

Knowing how to trademark a logo or other creative element of your brand gives you priority use, lets you take legal action against anyone who tries to use it, and, when registered in the United States, lets you also register it in foreign countries.

There are different levels of trademark protection, including at the local, state, and federal levels.

A trademark differs from a copyright, which protects other property types, such as writing, computer programs, and artistic works.

Tip #5: Get Business Insurance

Business insurance is an affordable, practical step to protecting your online company.

There are a wide array of policies available. In general, business insurance protects you against financial risks, such as the loss of a partner, injury to an employee, lawsuits, or natural disasters.

Business insurance protects the underlying assets you’ve worked so hard to build.While it can’t protect you from a client or customer filing a lawsuit, it can reduce the impact of those claims. The same goes for employee injuries.

Business insurance provides peace of mind, allowing you to continue your business while reducing the overall risks of operating.

Tip #6: Draft and Review Contracts

A handshake and verbal agreement may be good, but it legally leaves you on tenuous ground.

Consult with a lawyer to draft contracts that cover the scope of work agreements with vendors, partners, or clients.

You’ll need contracts for various types of work, including:

  • Client agreements that cover the scope of work, deliverables, payments, and payment/deliverable schedules
  • Terms of use when using applications on your website, downloading materials, or accessing proprietary information
  • Independent contractor agreements
  • Vendor contracts

A good legal counsel can help guide you on the types of contracts you should have, review any existing agreements and look at any contracts created by other parties during your business dealings.

Tip #7: Conduct a Financial Audit

You want to be sure that your finances are audited annually by an external auditor. That’s a good way to accomplish several key goals.

First, an audit ensures a clear, unbiased understanding of your financial status.

Second, it’s a way to identify business procedures and processes that may be problematic for your online business.

Your auditor can detail these items and make suggestions to ensure that your company adheres to key business practices.

Tip #8: Invest in Cybersecurity

Another crucial aspect is to improve your website security as much as possible.

Knowing how to protect a site from hackers can not only keep your business from operating, but it can also harm your online reputation.

Keep the systems, website, and data away from cybercriminals by ensuring your site is protected.

Tools that scour your website, monitor traffic, and identify and contain threats before they can do any major damage are invaluable.

They’ll also ensure that your customers trust your site and want to continue to do business there without concerns for their data or identifying information being compromised.

Conclusion

When you’ve launched an online business, there’s much to consider.

By factoring in simple steps such as adding business terms, protecting trademarks, establishing your business, and ensuring contracts are well constructed, your business will be primed for success.

Still have any question, do share via comments.

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Man Behind eAskme

Man behind easkme

Gaurav Kumar

Gaurav Kumar is the founder of eAskme.com. He is the professional blogger, writer, motivational speaker and online entrepreneur. He the man behind "Blogging for money guide" and "complete domain name guide". eAskme will help you to become an online entrepreneur. You can learn SEO, Money MAKING, SEO, blogging and more.

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