Facebook start-ups: Five things you should know

Some start-up businesses grow first via social media before they ever consider setting up a website. And truth be told, many businesses have been given a start-up via the social media network and have profited by it without ever setting up a website!


A Facebook start-up usually means having your business placed in the social media world and letting all your friends and acquaintances see it first to test the waters. You may think this is enough to launch your business formally and is all you need to do or worry about, but there are a few important business items you may not know.


Despite Facebook businesses cropping up everywhere, there are certain requirements that you (and they) still need to follow. You may believe you are exempt from your legal requirements by launching on Facebook, but you are not!


There are a few aspects you should consider before embarking on your Facebook business:


  • Initially, you should consider registering your business. This consists of having a registered name, an ABN, and possibly GST registration. Check for government regulations regarding the products or services you wish to sell because some states have restrictions on things such as food products and importation.


  • As for the legal side of things, you need to comply with all Australian standards with regard to selling to the public. Terms and conditions have to be inserted in your business profile to protect your business and limit your liability in respect to claims, warranties and indemnities and also to notify your customers of your terms.


  • Australian Consumer Law has to be adhered to. It governs all products and services that are purchased by the public (this has only recently been amended). Obviously, all claims you make about your products and services have to be true and correct, and not false or misleading.

    Also, you will have to ensure you have this inserted in your terms and conditions as well as having relevant licences for the products and services that require them. Be aware of all the state and territory jurisdictions on these matters before offering your goods and services.


  • One very important factor in your Facebook business start-up is that you are responsible for everything people post on your social media business site. In turn, you need to monitor your site carefully and regularly. If it breaches someone’s copyright, is defamatory, offensive, false or misleading in any way, you may find yourself in a litigious situation that you were not aware of.


  • Privacy laws must also be complied with wherever you sell your goods or services. All personal information, including email addresses and credit card details need to be securely stored and you are responsible, even if you are using a third-party service.

    As such, you are required to have a privacy policy on your sales site. Facebook and other social media sites have their own privacy policies and legal terms covering themselves, not you or your customers.


  • Finally, you are not above the law when it comes to having your business on Facebook or other social media. Endeavour to make sure you know all there is to know about selling your goods and services to the public. Do a business plan, taking in all aspects of the legal and regulatory requirements to ensure you are aware of all the requirements to sell your goods or services around Australia.


Regulators are looking into businesses started up online and through social networks, so – be aware!


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