What do I need to know before starting an online store? originally appeared on Quora - the knowledge sharing network where compelling questions are answered by people with unique insights.

Answer by Alexandra Isenegger, Entrepreneur | CEO @ Linkilaw | www.linkilaw.com, on Quora:

This is a great question!

Unfortunately for many entrepreneurs, they wait until their venture becomes popular before they look into their legal obligations - and this is a recipe for disaster!

There are many things you need to look into legally as your business is building.

Scaling is tough to master. In fact, THE NUMBER ONE reason a startup fails is that the people in charge decided to scale too quickly.

With this, your business might be growing, and you may be confident that everything is going well, but the whole shebang could fall apart because somewhere, somehow, you're unprepared for any consequences of a larger business.

As Biggie once said - 'Mo' money, mo' problems.'

With a large enterprise, you will have more potential legal issues. So it's better for you to deal with them as and when your business grows.

Please don't wait for your online store to get popular, but look into these (and more factors) before you do:

Copyright infringement

Your idea may be fantastic and innovative, but you need to ensure that you are aware of any competitors you have and how similar your idea may be to others. By not taking the time to do this research, you could find yourself in some serious legal trouble.

In regards to your online store, this could involve the logos and catchphrases you use in your store's branding, or even in the products or services that you provide on your website.

On the flipside, you need to protect your ideas, too. Terms and Conditions for your site will inform others that your IP belongs to you. By ensuring your legal ownership of intellectual property, in the case of another party stealing your ideas, the law will be on your side.


User data is a pretty big deal! As you know, the Internet connects all of us together. In the European Union, it is illegal for a website to operate without a Privacy Policy or Cookie Policy. Whether or not you are in the EU, if your website serves in this jurisdiction, you must have these policies in place otherwise, our site could have access restricted. Users want to know what you're doing with their data and how - so let them know!

The people you work with

You might be working all by yourself to make this online store work. But the most successful businesses have a variety of people contributing in a variety of ways. More talent means more skills and perspectives - but too many cooks can spoil a broth. A robust Shareholder's Agreement will ensure that if there is more than one owner, everyone's interests will be protected as much as possible. A Director's Service Agreement will provide the same assurances for the Directors who are involved in the day-to-day running of your business. An Employment Agreement is ESSENTIAL once your business is large enough to need more people, as it protects you and lets your employees know of their rights and responsibilities. However, let all the other documents aforementioned, you need to get that sorted ASAP.

Hope this helps! If you would like any more help, please don't hesitate to get in touch with me or Linkilaw directly.

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Published on: Jan 20, 2017