You have been inspired by the Freedom to Freelance Project. You have quit your boring and unfulfilling corporate job and now you are an entrepreneur. It is well known that one of the best ways to market your business is to have a website.
But, not many people talk about how having a website can open you up to potential liabilities, disputes and lawsuits.
What happens if someone uploads, onto your website, a logo that actually belongs to someone else?
What happens if someone posts a hateful or graphic comment?
What happens if you have a subscription service and someone does not pay?
All of these questions can be answered with the Terms and Conditions.
However, this contract does much more than answer questions, it increases the level of trust that your website visitors and clients have in you by showing them the fact that you are transparent and on top of your game. This contract also reduces disputes by establishing the ground rules from the very beginning.
The beauty of Terms and Conditions is that visitors and users of your website are automatically subject to the rules simply by being on your website; there is nothing to sign and no extra steps to take.
Improve Customer Experience
A big advantage of these rules is something that will improve customer experience: you can specify what actions are acceptable and what actions will not be tolerated.
For example, you can specify that spamming is not allowed and that hateful, violent language will not be tolerated.
Also, you can specify that you can delete anyone’s account if they are breaking these rules. This step will give you control of your website and will improve user experience by making your website a positive and welcoming space.
Another advantage of having Terms and Conditions is that you can specify where disputes will be resolved.
For example, let’s say that you are a business coach based in Chicago that offers a few classes online on your website. A client took the class but did not receive as much value for his money as he wanted and is now suing you.
How do you ensure that you do not have to go to New York, for example, to litigate this lawsuit? Your Terms and Conditions should specify where you will litigate so that you do not have to fly from Chicago to New York and spend large sums of money litigating far away from your home state.
Terms and Conditions are also useful because you can use them to inform your visitors and users that you are the owner of content, logo, design of the website, and other intellectual property.
This will help remind users and visitors that they may not take anything from your website without your permission. It also helps ensure that you do not lose the trademark or copyright by nature of multiple companies using your intellectual property.
This small part helps deter theft of trademarked and copyrighted materials, thereby possibly saving you thousands of dollars.
Lastly, you should have Terms of Service because they help establish and maintain good customer relationships.
If you own an eCommerce store, having the returns and cancellation policy makes your company look more legitimate and puts your customers at ease.
Payment terms also help prevent future disputes regarding when the client is supposed to pay.
If you have a membership service on your website, you can specify how one can become a member and how they can cancel their membership, thereby increasing transparency and positive relationships with your clients.
As you can see, having Terms and Conditions is extremely beneficial to establish what rules your users must follow and to increase positive customer relationships.
Getting These Contracts
If you are sold on having these contracts, you may be asking how you can obtain them. Having an attorney write these contracts for you is the best way to protect yourself and your business. Templates that you find online are “one size kind of fits some”, are too generic to protect a business properly and cause you to give up some of your rights.
So tell me: are you considering using these two contracts for your business website?