Start up

What are the essential 6 legal tips for startups?

When done properly, launching your own business can be inspiring, fulfilling and also a very exciting time! When things go wrong however, it can be closer to a nightmare. 

We understand that making time for figuring out all the nitty gritty legal requirements for startups is not nearly as exciting as working on your product or packaging. Between website terms, employee contracts, supplier agreements and more, it can both be overwhelming and time consuming.

We hear you.

… but it’s still necessary. We don’t think this process has to be difficult. With the right legal advice for business startups and a legal team supporting you every step of the way, it can be an painless process.  Before you launch head first (or wallet first) into this new business venture, do your due diligence and obtain find out about the key legal considerations for startups. 

To help, check out these 6 legal tips for startups:

  1. Protect your intellectual property!

Intellectual property is often the backbone of many of businesses and enables you to deter and prevent infringement of your brand and products. Additionally, you can utilise your IP as an asset to generate cash flow through licensing agreements. 

One of the more recognisable forms of intellectual property are trade marks and logos which often will include the name of a business.  The features that make your brand unique should be registered in relation to the goods and services that your business provides (with some room for expansion).

Ensure you register your intellectual property as soon as possible, an ensure your contracts with supplier, partners and employees are drafted to protect any unauthorised use.

We have expert IP lawyers who can provide tailored legal advice for business startups. Learn more about our trade mark service.

  1. Think globally

While your business may be based in Australia, if you are thinking of offering goods and services internationally (whether today or 2 years from now), there may be additional steps to consider.

For example, you may need to register your trade marks with the trade marks office in each country or through a WIPO registration. Additionally, if you are thinking to expand internationally, it is important to consider that a larger international business with a stronger reputation may have a trade mark already in existence.

  1. Get your contracts in writing

One of our key legal tips for startups is to avoid “handshake agreements”. When money is involved, it is important to have the terms of any agreement to be formalised in writing. This will avoid a “he said, she said” situation that can be costly to resolve, especially in the early days of your business.

We suggest, at the least, having formal contracts for:

  1. Ensure you have website terms and conditions

Terms and Conditions are the rules for individuals intending to access and use your website which outlines the terms of use will be if they choose to proceed. These terms and conditions act as a binding contractual agreement between your business and those on your website to help mitigate and manage your risk and liability. This is particularly important when considering businesses are usually unable to control who can access their website and how the information on their site may be used or interpreted. 

If you are looking for  legal advice  for business startups, contact our e-commerce lawyers today. 

  1. Don’t rely on templates

While we agree that online legal templates might be a great starting point, they should never be used in lieu of a lawyer. There are a number of inherent risks in using templates that may not be immediately apparent but will cause serious headaches when a dispute arises.

The legal requirements of statups are often convoluted and complex. A poorly drafted contract will do little to protect you when things do not go to plan, and the cost to try to enforce a poorly drafted contract will usually exceed what it would have cost to engage a lawyer to draft it initially.

  1. Think long term

It is also very important to consider your long term business strategy early on. That is, do you see this e-commerce business as something that you will grow and run for the next 15 years, or  you intending to establish the business to sell or are you looking for external investment?

Depending on what your vision is for the business, the legal requirements and processes will change, including any, written contracts, licences and permits and the business structure you chose.

We are experts in providing support for e-commerce businesses and start-ups. To discuss the legal requirements of an e-commerce business, contact our team today.