Green Online Business Guide

If you’re thinking about how to start a green online business, you should begin by thinking through some of the legal and financial considerations in order to ensure you’ve covered all of your bases. Starting a green online business can be one of the most cost-effective ways to start working from home on your green dreams, but there are some serious legal considerations you should look into before getting started. We’ll cover some of these issues to give you an idea of the kinds of legal considerations you’ll need to work through when starting a green Internet business.

Legal Considerations in Your Local Area that Affect Your Green Internet Business

Start at home to ensure there are now restrictions on the kind of business you can conduct in your community or in your own home. For instance, you may find that if you live in a multi-family building that you are not permitted to run a business of any kind from your home. Likewise, some community organizations prohibit commercial activities from being conducted within their fences. So check with local organizations and management companies before getting started.

Next, you should see about zoning laws and business license requirements that are required by your local municipality. Your local government office should be able to tell you if any of these restrictions apply to your proposed green Internet business, but you may also wish to consult with an attorney to be sure you haven’t left anything out.

State, National and International Laws the Impact Your Green Online Business

In addition to those laws promulgated by your local government and community organizations, you need to ensure that your green online business will not violate any laws upheld by your state, your country, and/or any international organizations. It would be a shame if your budding green Internet business had to be shut down because you missed checking into these legal considerations!

For instance, there are laws prohibiting the transport of certain types of alcohol from one state to another. You cannot ship products that contain compressed gas between some countries. And if you’re collecting information from clients in a country like Canada, there are very strict laws about privacy and how you use and share that information. All of these things should explored to determine if any of them impinge on your ability to conduct your green online business.

Some of the types of laws you may run into include the following:

  • Copyright: You cannot violate copyright laws when creating content for your site, marketing materials, and so forth. Any attempt to use another person’s copyrighted information for selling or publishing a product under your own name could land you in hot water.
  • Delivery times: In the US, the FTC has a Mail or Telephone Order Merchandise Rule that states you must clearly state when products will be delivered, and that you must then deliver it within that time.
  • Email use: Some countries prohibit you from spamming its residents with email unless you have permission to do so. The CAN-SPAM Act in Canada, for instance, says you can only send commercial email to people who request that you do so, and that you must always provide a way for customers to opt out (and you must honor those requests).
  • Privacy for customers: Many state and international laws prevent you from using your customers’ data in certain ways, such as selling it to other vendors or trading it for other contact lists.
  • Shipments and transport: There are numerous laws that prevent the transport of dangerous, hazardous, or contraband goods across geographic lines. Do some research into your particular product line to ensure there are none prohibiting you from conducting your business online.
  • Truth in advertising: This should go without saying, but many laws prohibit you from using false advertising to sell a product or service, especially online. You could face fines of up to $16,000 for each violation of such laws.

Do some research using the following resources to find out what state, national, and international laws apply to your green Internet business:

Whenever working through legal matters like how to start up a green online business, it’s a good idea to consult with an attorney that you trust. Sometimes you’ll need to consult with more than one depending on which jurisdictions you’ll be working in. For instance, you may need to consult one local lawyer about municipal law, a state lawyer about state law, a lawyer versed in ecommerce law, and a different attorney regarding national and international law. This should be considered in your startup costs as a worthwhile investment.

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