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Vital Free Guidance From Business Companion for Starting an Online Business

A difficult set of circumstances in 2023 is expected for new entrants to the UK’s business scene, with restrained consumer spending, rising inflation and lacklustre economic confidence among the challenges to be overcome. However, despite the difficult economic backdrop, over 402,000 new businesses were established in the first half of 2022.

And thanks to the internet, more businesses than ever are being launched online than ever before, and the trend shows no signs of decline. In the digital age, a physical shop front is often simply no longer required to sell goods or services.

But with these new ventures having to navigate such difficult economic waters, it is more important than ever that startups have access to reliable, up-to-date and free information which could help them satisfy their customers and avoid penalties for breaches of consumer law.

With that in mind, Business Companion, a free online resource published by the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) with the support of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), has launched a new guide to Starting an Online Business.

The guide provides detailed information to people who sell goods online, making them aware of their legal responsibilities and to providing a useful introduction to the UK’s consumer and trading laws.

Starting an Online Business sets out the important distinctions between selling items online as an individual and as a business, and the different obligations and responsibilities this entails under consumer protection law.

The ‘Am I in business?’ section includes answers to frequently asked questions and a flowchart which sets out different circumstances under which a person selling items through an online marketplace, such as eBay for example, could be considered to be a business.

The topics covered in this section include VAT registration, as well as the threshold at which a private individual selling items online could potentially be deemed to be running a business in the eyes of the law.

Once it is established that a person selling goods online could be classified as a trader, the second section of the guide covers frequently asked questions about things like terms and conditions and legal compliance.

The third part of the guide contains model terms that can be used as a template by traders to help them ensure they comply with consumer protection law. The terms are relevant to a range of selling mechanisms, including proprietary e-commerce websites, online marketplaces, social media platforms, and any other platform on which a trader sells goods and which is operated by another business.

The resource is easily accessible in website format and as a convenient, downloadable PDF booklet. Starting an Online Business is an essential guide for anyone who needs a quick, reliable and up-to- date answer to a query about the nature of their business and their legal obligations. As with all the information available on Business Companion, it is written by consumer law experts in plain English – and it is free!


About Business Companion
Business Companion is a free online resource published by the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) with the support of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). It provides businesses of all sizes and across all sectors with expert guidance on a wide range of consumer protection law issues.

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