Countless companies are born online and operate that way indefinitely. However, the business landscape is constantly changing. For instance, companies like Amazon and those mentioned in this Forbes article are taking their virtual services into the real world.
Businesses built and run online are looking to expand by establishing brick-and-mortar stores for many reasons. For instance, people enjoy in-person shopping for specific items, like apparel. Additionally, it is typically easier to afford an online business versus a physical business, so opening a storefront may only be a realistic option once an online business is off the ground and profitable.
If you are considering taking your online business to the physical world, there are some things for which you should be prepared.
- Finding commercial space: You cannot operate a business out of any spot you wish. You must first ensure it is zoned for commercial use. You will also need to have a purchase agreement or commercial lease in place.
- Hiring staff: You need people to run your store. Online workers often work remotely and/or as contractors, whereas your in-person staff will typically have set works hours and be hired as employees. There will likely be differences in how you interview people, who you ultimately hire and how you manage these workers, so you will want to be sure you understand Wisconsin and federal employment laws.
- Protecting visitors: Your business will hopefully attract a lot of people. Protecting customers while they shop will be crucial; keeping trespassers out will also be a top priority. In other words, you will want to be sure you have insurance and understand your obligations under premises liability laws.
These are just a few legal issues that business owners need to think about when they are opening up a physical location. Many other matters must be addressed as well, though they vary from business to business.
It might be tempting to assume that operating a successful online company is the same as operating a successful brick-and-mortar location. However, there are differences to examine in order to avoid costly mistakes and missteps. Doing so with the perspective and guidance of an attorney can be a wise decision.