You did it.

You finally have your business website ready to show to the world. (Nice work!)

Okay, sure, there are still some kinks to work out. And some photos to add. And some typos that have somehow survived rounds and rounds of proofreading. But as they say, "done is better than perfect." Plus, you're ready to start promoting the business and getting some customers.

Not so fast. You still have some pages to add!

Every business website should have a terms of use page and a privacy policy. I covered privacy policies in an earlier post. (Be sure to read that post, since privacy polices are legally required.) Today, we'll do a deeper dive into terms of use (otherwise known as "terms of service" or "terms and conditions").

Do you really need a terms of use page?

Chances are good that if you've ever been on the internet, you're familiar with the phrase "terms of use." It really boils down to this: a terms of use page is a contract between your business and your online visitors. It establishes rules and regulations that your visitors must follow, and it includes some liability protections if your business ever winds up in court.

But unlike a privacy policy, terms of use are not legally required.

So, no, you don't need a terms of use page. It's not another procedural hoop you're required to jump through. But before you decide to pass on having a terms of use for your site, take the time to learn more about them. Here are my top 3 reasons why you want a terms of use page.

1. Terms of use help protect your business. 

Let's be real. When it comes to seeking out a business lawyer, your main concern is to keep your business protected. Whether you're looking to form a legit business, use a contract with another business or client, or apply for a trademark, the goal is to put shields around what you've built. 

That's the point of terms of use, too. Having a business website is a necessity these days, but it also exposes the business to a lot of risks. What if someone steals the content on your site? What if someone posts offensive comments or hacks into a user's account? What if one of your readers follows some tip on your website and gets hurt as a result? What if you get an angry email accusing you of copyright infringement? Which state law would apply if there's a dispute?

Sure, a terms of use page won't protect you entirely from these kinds of concerns. And other laws may offer some protection here as well. But a solid terms of use will address these topics (and more), which adds more layers of protection around your company. 

2. Your terms of use should be customized for your business.

A terms of use page doesn't have to be a complicated document. And if your website is just informational, then it can actually be pretty basic.

But what if your website has members and lets people log in? Or what if users can buy things from your site? In those cases, then you'll want additional terms to cover those details. 

The bottom line: your terms of use should be written to specifically explain and protect your business.

Why do I stress this?

Because you should not copy and paste terms of use from another company. Every business is different, so there are probably terms in that other company that don't apply to you—and they might even contradict how your business operates. Plus, the details of your business might require additional terms not covered in another's terms of use.

And don't trust that other companies have done their homework on this—there are LOTS of poorly written terms of use out there.

3. Putting together terms of use will help fine-tune details about your business.

Ha, you didn't see this one coming, did you? This is a hidden advantage of taking the time to prepare a terms of use page. At Indie Law, we specialize in crafting terms of use that are custom-built for your company.

There's a certain irony here. And it's true for a lot of legal documents, actually. If you get past the legalese of contracts, you'll see that they're actually pretty helpful. Sure, they protect your business, but they do more than that. Contracts force you to really think about how you want your business to operate.

One of the things I love about being a business lawyer is helping my clients learn more about their business. More often then not, putting together terms of use causes my clients to consider aspects of the business they hadn't thought about before.

When I ask a clarifying question to complete a terms of use page, there's usually at least one follow up question.

"Oh yeah, that reminds me, what about the fact that we do X?" "Actually, we won't have this feature ready at launch, so we can remove this part for now."

That's not to say that every detail should be spelled out in your terms of use. The goal is to cover what's necessary but allow for flexibility. Still, this kind of deeper-level thinking is so valuable to a business (especially a new business), and my clients really appreciate these insightful takeaways.

Indie Law has you covered.

Now that you understand the benefits of having a terms of use page, let's get you started. Through our subscription plans, you can get a solid privacy privacy and terms of use page to suit your business.


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