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The Rise of the Start-Up – Part III

In this final part of our start-up series, we look at tips to help you navigate through e-commerce and what to do when looking to take on employees.

Getting to grips with e-commerce

E-commerce has grown rapidly – billions are now spent online every year. This is certainly one area that has seen growth during the pandemic and many entrepreneurs are looking to make the most of this. If you are planning to develop an online business, there are a number of issues you need to be aware of. Different types of business will need to follow different rules, but generally, make sure you are clear about the following:

  • Information is crucial: you must provide customers with all of the relevant information they might need e.g. who they are buying from, how they contact you, what you are selling and what the order process is.
  • Information placement: when adding information to your website, make sure it is in the right place. For example, product descriptions should be on the product pages, but the order process can be set out in your terms and conditions.
  • Terms of use: you should prescribe how your customers (and other third parties) must use your website; this can be part of your terms and conditions if they are on your website. It should include rules around third party information posted on your website, passwords/security, website access and the removal of content.
  • Contracts and policies: as we have covered previously in this series, your business is likely to need standardised contracts with customers and third parties. These contract terms, and your privacy policy, should be uploaded to your website. You should also include links to any relevant shipping/delivery information and your website terms of use.

Remember, it is important to ensure that all of this information on your website is clear and easily accessible.

Don’t forget your employees

In the maelstrom of starting a business – developing your product or service, your brand and your website, and meeting all the legal and compliance requirements in order to stay up and running – it is all too easy to try to cut corners and leave your employment contracts, policies and HR legal compliance for another day.

As a minimum, get good employment contracts in place that comply with the minimum statutory requirements, record the correct notice periods, protect your confidential information and other intellectual property, and also protect your business if an employee leaves and tries to take customers (and/or colleagues) to a competitor.

In addition, you should ensure that you are compliant with immigration, data protection, health and safety, pension auto-enrolment and employee tax laws, and also that you have the correct employee insurance in place.

Series summary

In this short series, we have hopefully set you on your way to ensuring that your new business is “legally ready” for what it will face. As a very quick recap, the key points to remember are:

  • Get all your contracts in order and ensure they are good quality; this may be contracts with your customers, suppliers, other third parties, and between you and the co-founders of your business.
  • Identify what intellectual property you own (or are likely to develop) and make sure you protect it, either by registration or documentation.
  • Don’t fall foul of data protection law – be transparent and ensure your customers and third parties understand what personal information you hold about them, what you do with it and why.
  • Make sure that your website is clear, user-friendly, accessible and informative.
  • Get your employment contracts and HR legal compliance right from the start.

If you would like to discuss any of the employment issues covered above, please contact one of our specialists in the Employment Team. If you would like to discuss e-commerce, or anything else covered in our start-up series, please contact Olivia French.

Image of Olivia French, Bolt Burdon Solicitors, Islington

Olivia French

020 7288 4778
07798 616 068
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