Compliance Management for your Startup

There’s an oft-quoted statistic that 90 percent of startups fail. It’s a little disingenuous as in part, it discusses businesses failing in their fifth year, but the underlying message is clear. If you start a business, you’ve got to be on top of your game to make a sustainable success of it. That means managing a lot of things, and it is unsurprising that when a management team is so focused on developing a product, generating sales and generally staying afloat, areas like compliance can take a back seat.

That’s a dangerous place to go. There can surely be nothing worse than creating a great business model with loyal customers only for it all to be destroyed by the fines and reputation damage that come from a compliance breach.

Financial compliance

Many people still think of compliance as a finance function. Today, this is only one aspect of compliance, but it is still a vitally important one. Getting the right financial controls in place from the outset is faster, simpler and less painful than trying to change people’s habits after the auditors give their horrified verdict on 12 months of shoddy practices. Front load your financial compliance, get help setting up the right processes and you’ll find that annual audits and reports carry no fear.

Data compliance

It’s the information age, and every business holds more data than ever before. When that data concerns your customers, you have a regulatory obligation to treat it in a certain way in terms of what it contains, who can access it, how it is stored and so on. It looks onerous from the outside, but there are ready-made solutions like WORM compliant storage that make data compliance a way of life.

HR compliance

Looking after your people is both a legal responsibility a morally the right thing to do. From a compliance perspective, this touches on several areas, but Health & Safety and Equal Opportunities are at the core. Any breaches here and a startup will face an uphill battle to recover.

Compliance training and awareness

Getting the processes in place is only the first stage of successful compliance management. A 100-page compliance manual that sits, neatly bound, in a drawer is no use to anyone. You can be sure that none of the employees who have signed their commitment have read a word of it. Compliance needs to be lived and breathed, and here’s the good news: it’s easy.

People on the whole don’t need hours of training to understand that it’s right to protect client data or that it’s wrong to discriminate against an employee on the basis of sex or ethnicity. Your compliance policies provide a framework for doing the right things in the right way, and a safety net for taking immediate corrective action if anything goes wrong. Surely that is something that everyone can get behind and that every business owner should be happy to lead from the front.

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