Your business and ideas power your life and have made you into the fierce warrior you are today.
But are you doing all that you can to protect yourself and your business? That is the question that keeps us up at night.
Chances are that you have a website; we live in the 21 st century don’t we? Chances also are that you think (like most people do), that the Terms and Conditions are not necessary and that even if you do have them, they are some boilerplate mishmash you found in the depths of the Internet and never thought about again. It’s time to change that.
I am here to share my knowledge of Terms and Conditions with you.
First, and most importantly, Terms and Conditions are crucial to the success of your business because they form a contract between your business and everyone who visits or uses your website. They are an excellent way to limit your liability and protect your image and brand.
Here are some examples that show how Terms and Conditions can protect you:
1. If someone posts materials on your website that infringe on third party rights, you can be protected from getting sued by the third party simply by including safe harbor provisions of certain laws in your Terms and Conditions and following a few simple steps.
2. If you have an online store, you can ensure that you will be able to use a payment processing system by having certain return, cancellation, and other provisions in the Terms and Conditions.
3. Terms and Conditions can easily resolve disputes with customers by providing clear-cut rules on topics such as returns or damaged items.
4. If users can create accounts on your website, you can specify what types of names they can use for their accounts so that your website does not become clogged with inappropriate or hateful names.
5. If users can post on your website, you can specify that you have the right to take down an account for any reason. This helps ensure that users are not posting inappropriate, violent, graphic, and hateful images and speech. This will give you more control over your website and business.
The above is just a sampling of the many reasons why having Terms and Conditions will help you. If you are sold, your next logical question may be “where do I get Terms and Conditions?” The very best advice that I can give you is for you to go to a local attorney and have her write the Terms and Conditions. None of the online templates know you or your business. They do not know what risks you face in your particular niche or exactly what keeps you up at night. The templates often miss certain key provisions, such as what happens when there is a dispute.
Furthermore, using templates often leads to you giving up rights that you may not want to give up and may lead to further expenses down the road, in the form of litigation. I hope that you are ready to take the next step in protecting your business by getting proper Terms and Conditions for your website.
Keep on conquering!
Donata Kalnenaite is the owner of Agency Attorneys, a Chicago-based law firm for startup and small businesses. She is also a graduate of The John Marshall Law School and is licensed to practice law in Illinois. While in law school, she was a part of BELAW, a group of students and attorneys that helps disadvantaged, minority, and female entrepreneurs establish and grow their businesses. While at BELAW, she learned that clients should be treated with dignity and respect no matter how small their business is and that sharing information and knowledge leads to a win-win situation for everyone. She uses those concepts and lessons learned in her practice every day.