Running a small business and trading online? You might not think national and international laws and regulations are something that apply to your situation. Regulations seems like something for big companies – and anyhow, who’s going to care about your small business anyway? Quite a few people, in fact. In this article we will take a brief look into small business regulations.
Small Business Regulations
Just because you’re small, don’t assume you’re not affected by legislation. You’re less likely to be under the media spotlight if things go wrong, but failing to comply with laws could result in serious penalties that could derail your business.
Every country has its own small business regulations, and online entrepreneurs trading in the European Union, for instance, tend to have to deal with more rules than their North American counterparts. That said, it’s only a question of degree – most countries regulate small online businesses in the ways we look at below:
Payment Card Industry Compliance
Whenever you take payments for your products or services over the internet, you need to ensure that you are compliant with international Payment Card Industry (PCI) standards. If you use any of the traditional online transfer payment methods, such as SWIFT, STRIPE or even PayPal, you’ll likely be covered. But, make sure you use an accredited and well known service.
Customer Data Protection
Most countries have various different laws covering customer privacy. At a minimum, it’s expected that:
- You don’t collect any more data than is strictly necessary
- Customers are made aware when you collect data about them
- Data is protected in a secure, password-protected environment
You should also know that, as of May 2018, the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation will be coming into effect, which requires businesses to go even further when protecting customer information. If you collect any kind of confidential information about your customers, you should prepare yourself for this law. Be aware that the GDPR has enormous fines for non-compliance.
If you’re selling any kind of advice over the internet, it’s sensible, and in many countries obligatory, to be covered by professional liability or errors and omissions insurance. If you give advice which is shown to have caused a damage to your client – such as them losing money or making a poor decision – this kind of insurance protects you.
If you’re offering medical advice over the internet, you should have a medical certificate. The same goes for other professions such as engineering, law or accountancy.
Terms And Conditions
Online service providers and eCommerce businesses should have a lawyer look through their terms and conditions. When you’re providing training, guidance or any kind of product over the internet, you should provide clients with terms and conditions.