When starting up your own business, it’s easy to become fixated on your business plan and driving sales. A really important part that’s easy to overlook is the ‘terms and conditions’. It’s there to protect you and your customer. Without it, you can end up in a lot of legal disputes.
A good starting place is to look at similar businesses terms and conditions. From that, you can see what types of things you will want to include. There are also templates online and other businesses that offer the service of drafting up your terms and conditions.
Jot down key points that are relevant to your business. That’ll be things like payment, returns, damages, etc. You want to make sure that the customer has a return or refund option if they receive a faulty product but if you know they haven’t, you want to protect yourself.
Start with the basics. You will have different segments and within each segment, there will be the separate parts. You can get the main segments from templates online and then start putting the key points you jotted down into the segments. From there, you build on those key points. For example, you’ll have a payment section. In that payment section, you may have one point declaring when payment will be taken, one part about how the payment will be processed and one about any direct debits.
Once you have all of your parts, then it’s time to compare it to the ones you looked at to start with. Is there anything else you need to add? Is there something you could be more clear on? Again, the more detail the better. Take for example you say that if a customer wants to make a return, they need to do so within 14 days. Be explicit that you won’t accept any complaints submitted after that 14 day mark. It should also be clear why they can return an item. It’s important to look into any legislation surrounding your business as you don’t want your terms and conditions to infringe on consumer rights. Again, that’s why it’s good to compare with an existing company’s terms and conditions.
It can take a long time to write from scratch but that’s why templates exist. It depends on how bespoke your business is. A company you may be using already for insurance may provide the option of drafting your terms and conditions free of charge. If you don’t have a legal team or service that you can use, then maybe ask a friend to have a look through it. There are lots of groups online too that can offer bits of advice.
Remember that once you have those terms and conditions, it’s clear to your customers that by using your business, they agree to the terms and conditions. There’s usually a check box on the website. On your website, there should also be a clear link for them to view and download the terms and conditions. If your customers are communicating with you directly, you should send them a copy of the terms and conditions in an email attachment.
In this day and age, it’s so important to cover yourself and your business right from the start. People are quick to use and abuse businesses and the law is growing increasingly complex so having your documentation clear from the start allows you to become more focused at driving sales, knowing that you have protected your business and your customer as best as you can.