So, you want to start an online business: You have a great idea for a product, or maybe the product is ready, and you just need a platform to sell it. Maybe you already sell your products at weekend markets, but you want to take your business to the next level. Whatever you plan to do, you inevitably wonder to yourself: are there any legal requirements I must work through If I want to start an online business?
The short answer is: yes. Most of the legal requirements are the same for any real business. After all, in this day and age, if you want a successful business establishment, there is no escaping using the web as a selling platform.
The following are five legal requirements when starting an online business
REGISTERING A BUSINESS NAME
In Australia, you are required to register your business or company name online before commencement. This involves getting a business number (not to be confused with an ABN – we’ll talk about that in a minute). Registering differs depending on whether you are a sole trader, a company, trust or partnership. You can register your business name online at the Australian Government Business Registration Service, ASIC connect or a private provider.
REGISTERING FOR A DOMAIN NAME
There is a difference between a business name and a domain name. The domain name refers to the actual website address and if want you want to own website you are required to register for this as well. Some online businesses largely operate through e-commerce websites or applications such as Etsy, and although this has its benefits, it can also be limiting – particularly for coming up in online searches.
REGISTERING FOR AN ABN
If you are running a legitimate business online with the main reason to make a profit, you need an ABN (Australian Business Number) and it also ensures you can register a domain name in Australia.
REGISTERING FOR A TRADEMARK
A trademark is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as ‘A symbol, word, or words legally registered or established by use as presenting a company or product’. It is more than a logo and can be any original, defining feature that establishes your business or product’s identity. It can be an aspect of packaging, a number, a word or picture or a combination of each. In order to register a trademark online with IP Australia or a third party.
LICENCING AND PERMITS
Whether or not you need a license or permit for your online business largely depends on the product or service that you are selling. Food products might require a Food Business License. Some products, particularly those that are consumed may require product safety testing. Whether a bricks-and-mortar establishment or online, a legitimate business must sell products that meet safety requirements under Australian Consumer Law.