A bottled water company has the potential to be a successful business venture. Before you start purchasing the equipment and machinery needed for a bottled water company though, it’s important to take a look at the legal side of starting a bottled water company.

Your bottled water company’s stability and protection will be largely determined by how well you’ve planned for the legal considerations. Matters like compliance, contracts, governance, business structure, employee and consumer relations are all related to the legal aspects of running a business. 

Therefore, if you want to give your bottled water company the best chance out there, then it’s crucial to take the legal aspects of starting a bottled water company seriously. Keep reading to learn more. 

Starting A bottled Water Company In Australia 

Starting a bottled water company is no simple task. Unlike some other types of business ventures, the set up cost for a bottled water company is likely to be pretty high. This is because bottling water for consumption requires materials for collecting the water, treating it, packing it and then storing it. You will also need to think about how and where the bottled water will be distributed. 

So, if you’re thinking about starting a bottled water company, then it’s a good idea to create a business plan. Your business plan doesn’t need to be anything fancy but it’s a good idea to put all your research and ideas in there. It can help break the task of setting up your bottled water company down, plus having it all down in writing can help you stay on track with your goals. 

A few things you might want to include in your bottled water company’s business plan include:

  • Short term and long terms goals
  • Finances
  • Market analysis
  • Advertising and marketing
  • Regulatory compliance (more on this later) 
  • Equipment and materials 

There’s no rule for what needs to go in a business plan. However, if you’re thinking of getting investors involved with your bottled water company, then it’s wise to keep in mind that investors may want to see your business plan before they commit to the company. In this case, it’s a good idea to have a detailed and well prepared business plan for them to have a look at – after getting them to sign an NDA of course! 

How To Open Your Own Bottled Water Company 

Once you’re comfortable with your level of research and the plans you’ve created, then it’s time to open your bottled water company. 

The first step to opening your bottled water company (or any company in Australia) is to get it registered. In order to register your company, you’ll need to fill out an application form with ASIC. This can be done online. While the application form itself shouldn’t take long to fill out, there’s a number of details you will need to be prepared with before you even reach that stage. 

An application form to start a company will ask you about your company shareholder, directors governance and operations. It will also need more administrative details, such as your company address, bank account and contact information. The kind of company you’ll be setting up is also likely to impact your application process, such as if you’re thinking of starting a Dual Company Structure or a B-Corp

Therefore, the process for setting up a company can get a bit complicated. However, that doesn’t mean it needs to be a daunting task. Getting the help of a legal expert can go a long way in making sure your company gets set up the right way. After all, the registration process will form the foundation for your company, so having someone who really knows what they’re doing by your side can make all the difference. 

You can learn more about the process of setting up a company in our article: Steps To Incorporate Your Small Business In Australia

Is A Company Structure My Only Option? 

No, setting up your bottled water venture as a company isn’t the only option when it comes to business structure. It is, however, the most recommended option. Other than a company, the other most common types of legal structures are a sole trader or a partnership.

Setting up as a sole trader or with a partner is significantly less complicated than getting a company started. It requires simply going online and applying for an Australian Business Number (ABN). if you’re in a partnership, then each partner will need their own ABN. Business owners might want to get their Business Name Registered and partners may opt to have additional legal documents, like a Partnership Agreement if they choose. After that, you’re all set to start business operations.

Despite the ease of set up, sole trader and partnership structures offer very limited legal protection. When you set up this kind of business, there’s no legal separation between you and the business. Therefore, you can be held personally liable for everything that happens with the business. 

If you’re setting up a company, you don’t need to worry about this. Companies are legal entities on their own. As a result, companies enjoy a lot of the rights a legal person does – they are able to buy or sell property, earn money or have debt to their name. As a company has its own legal status, it operates separately from you. Unlike a sole trader or partnership, the company isn’t connected to you personally, limiting your liability. 

Moreover, as a company is the more legally secure option, it provides a much better foundation for the future expansion of your bottled water venture. A sole trader and partnership structure can limit your options, whereas a company structure is always better for leveling up. Therefore, if your bottled water operations are a serious business endeavour, then we suggest taking the time to set up a company. Our legal experts can make the process much easier and you can be assured your bottled water company has been set up correctly.   

Other than Registration, Are There Any Other Legal Requirements For Starting A Bottled Water Company? 

Yes, properly registering your bottled water company is just one of the first legal considerations you’ll need to sort out. In order to successfully (and legally) run a bottled water company, there’s a number of other legal factors that are important to take into account. We’ve listed a few key ones for you below. 

Regulatory Compliance

To sell bottled water to consumers, there are strict guidelines regarding the quality of your product. The Australian Food Standards Code (FSANZ) and the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code regulate the standards for bottled water in Australia. It’s important to understand what the requirements are and adhere to them. 

It’s also crucial to check local and state regulations regarding the sale of bottled water. Ensure you have the correct licences and permits before you start manufacturing and selling bottled water. Not paying attention to the regulatory requirements your bottled water company needs to comply with can lead to disastrous consequences, so it’s important to get ahead of this. A Regulatory Compliance expert can help you determine what steps you need to take.   

Australian Consumer Law

Selling a product on the market means you need to be aware of your rights and responsibilities under consumer law. The Australian Consumer Law (ACL) sets the code of conduct for businesses and how they treat their customers. Things like refunds, warranties and returns are all covered by the ACL. Furthermore, the ACL has certain acts that are strictly prohibited, such as misleading or deceptive behavior. If you’re starting a bottled water company, then becoming familiar with the ACL is crucial.  

Employment Law

A bottled water company is likely going to need multiple hands on deck. Meaning, at some point you’ll probably be hiring employees to work in your company. Having a growing team is always great however, it’s important to remember the added responsibility it comes with. 

As an employer, it’s your responsibility to make sure your employees are being treated right. That means, having a safe place to work, being compensated adequately and receiving fair treatment. It’s a good idea to understand the regulations set out by Safe Work Australia and Fair Work. Look into getting strong Workplace Policies and Staff Handbooks to clearly communicate the rules of your workplace and avoid misunderstandings. 

Data and Privacy

Starting a bottled water company means you’ll also have access to certain types of private information. This information could be about your partners, customers or employees. Whoever they are – it’s your duty as a company to protect these details and ensure they don’t fall into the wrong hands. 

Utilising legal instruments to protect data and privacy is always a good idea. Talk to one of our legal experts about getting a Privacy Policy (this is a legal requirement if you have a website that collects information) or a Data Breach Response Plan.  

Remember, taking the right measures is not just important to protect the privacy of your company and those involved with it. Making sure you’ve done everything you can to maintain a reasonable level of privacy can also help in limiting your liability in case something does go wrong.   

Do I Need Any Legal Documents for My Bottled Water Company? 

Legal documents are what will keep your bottled water company protected as it engages with both people from within and outside the business. Having things like well drafted Employment Agreements for all employees are the first step to facilitating positive relationships with all employees. You will also need to think about contracts with any third parties your company is going to partner with.  For instance, a Distribution Agreement is an essential legal agreement to have drafted and signed once you have found a suitable distributor for your product. 

The specific legal documents you will need are going to depend on your unique bottled water company. That is why, it’s better to get in touch with one of our legal experts and they can provide more insight into the kind of the legal documents you’ll be requiring. 

Next Steps 

Starting a bottled water company can be a great business venture. Taking care of the legal factors are key to protecting your company and setting it up for success. To summarise what we’ve discussed: 

  • Creating a business plan is a good idea when setting up a bottled water company, covering short and long-term goals, finances, market analysis, advertising, marketing, regulatory compliance and equipment/materials 
  • To open a bottled water company in Australia, registration with ASIC is necessary, involving details about shareholders, directors, governance, operations, company address, bank account, and contact information 
  • While sole trader or partnership structures are simpler to set up, a company structure provides more legal protection and a better foundation for future expansion 
  • Other legal requirements for starting a bottled water company include regulatory compliance with food standards, understanding consumer law, compliance with employment law, and addressing data and privacy concerns 
  • Legal documents, such as well-drafted employment agreements and distribution agreements, are crucial for protecting the company’s interests and fostering positive relationships 
  • Seeking legal consultation is recommended to ensure proper understanding and compliance with legal requirements when starting a bottled water company 

If you would like a consultation on starting a bottled water company, you can reach us at 1800 730 617 or team@sprintlaw.com.au for a free, no-obligations chat.

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