Business owners typically put a lot of time and effort into their website and content—especially small business owners. When you run a small business, every task falls to you, so when someone takes advantage of your site or your work, it hits hard.
But there are 2 quick and easy changes you can make to your website right now to protect your business from being taken advantage of: add (1) terms and conditions, and (2) terms of purchase. Keep reading to find out what these are and why you need them!
1. Terms & Conditions: What Are They?
If you scroll to the very bottom of this page, you’ll see a few very important things that protect this website. Go ahead and look, I’ll wait.
Oh good, you’re back. I missed you.
If you’re astute (and you’re here, so I bet you are), you probably noticed these:
- copyright statement
For example, you can set out what users can upload to your site and/or what content they can take from your site and use elsewhere.
Imagine a user uploads something that infringes on someone’s copyright or makes your brand look bad—how difficult would it be to manage something like that? How stressful would it be if it’s something you have to take to court, or if someone else takes you to court over it?
Why Terms and Conditions Matter
Adding Terms and Conditions to your website may seem like an “extra” that isn’t necessary. Legally, you aren’t required to include them. But taking a small amount of time can save you a lot of time and money later so that you can focus on growing your business.
If something goes wrong and someone is looking to blame you, you’ll have your terms and conditions—which act as a kind of contract—to back you up.
The Easiest Way to Implement Terms and Conditions on Your Website
The simplest way to get terms and conditions up on your site is to use a template.
But beware: not all are created equal.
It’s a good idea to purchase a template that has been drafted by a skilled professional (that is, a lawyer). Other templates you might find on the internet may not apply to your US-based business or may not be comprehensive enough to protect your specific goods or services.
Artful Contracts has a straightforward Website Terms & Conditions Template available that protects you and your clients/website users.
The template is detailed but clear, without legal jargon. It includes clauses on:
- intellectual property rights (to protect the content on your website)
- communications permissions (to use your visitors’ testimonials)
- limitation of liability
It also comes with a free how-to guide to show you how to use the template.
If you are using a different template or creating the terms yourself, it is important to make sure you at least include clauses that cover limiting liability, copyright/intellectual property, governing law, and the right for you to make changes to the terms.
(By the way, if you want to know more about intellectual property, check out these other blog posts: How to Protect Your Business with Trademark and Copyright, and 3 Reasons to Trademark Your Business Name Right Now.)
2. Terms of Purchase: What Are They?
Terms of purchase (sometimes called purchase order conditions, conditions of sale, or PO terms and conditions), are essential for any business selling goods (including digital products or courses) or services online. They act as a contract between you and the purchaser and set out:
- that the business is providing a good or service for purchase
- the price of the good or service
- payment and refund conditions
- intellectual property conditions (what purchasers can or cannot do with their purchased goods or services), and
- conditions regarding communications after purchase (for example, if you can use purchaser testimonials for marketing purposes).
Picture this: you just spent three months building an online course. Maybe you’re a web designer, fitness coach, or a life coach. You put all of your knowledge into making this fantastic course and bravely go live. How exciting!
You see a course being sold on social media for half the price. And it looks suspiciously like yours.
And then you start getting requests for refunds long after students have taken the course, knowing full well they’ve completed every module.
What do you do?
To prevent your business from being taken advantage of, it’s a good idea to implement some terms of purchase and make sure they’re available on your website.
Why Terms of Purchase Matter
You might find yourself in a situation (like the above) where a dispute arises after purchase and subsequent delivery to the purchaser of the good or service. A dispute could also arise after purchase but before the purchaser receives said good/service. In either case, terms of purchase can help you navigate these disputes.
They can also save you time and money. Inappropriate refund requests can drain your physical and financial resources. Terms of purchase give you a leg to stand on when denying these frivolous requests.
If you’ve spent time and money on creating your content—whether it be a course, a service, or a physical good—it’s best to spend the small amount of time it takes to implement terms of purchase on your website in order to protect all of that hard work.
The Easiest Way to Implement Terms of Purchase
Like terms and conditions, it’s easiest to use a template for terms of purchase.
If you happen to have an online course, Artful Contracts has a super simple and easy to use Terms of Purchase for Online Courses Template.
It covers payment and refund policies, course content protection, communications permissions, and other protections to protect your business. And it works for all types of digital products, not just online courses.
Yes! These two types of policies seem really similar, but they cover different types of relationships you have with people who visit your website.
Other Protections for Your Website
Like you can see at the bottom of this page, it’s a good idea to include a copyright statement as well as a disclaimer on your site.
To find out other ways to protect your business right now, have a look at the 9-Step Checklist to Protect Your Business Legally!
For other ways to protect your money and business, watch the free masterclass: How to Legally Protect & Grow Your Online Business So You Can Keep More of the Money You Make