When you’re a new entrepreneur who is making their first steps in the corporate world, it is easy to focus on the aspects of the job that are exciting and make you feel accomplished and less fun, red-tape tasks. Ensuring compliance with regulations is one of those domains where you have to be a bureaucracy enthusiast to be able to enjoy it – yet it is among the most fundamental issues you have to deal with when running your own business.
Get Familiar with Your Responsibilities
The compliance world is full of acronyms and what seem like complicated processes – but once you delve into it, getting a grasp of the basics is not as hard as it seems.
First, you need to identify what kind of regulations apply in your case. For example, if you have an online shop and process credit card data, you’ll want to be PCI-DSS certified. This set of security standards ensures that you have appropriate safety mechanisms in place to protect your customers’ financial information, like a WAF that filters malicious incoming traffic and protects online applications from application layer attacks such as zero-day threats and SQL injection.
If your company is publicly traded, you need to take a closer look at SOX requirements and HIPAA to figure out what you need to do in terms of health insurance coverage for your employees.
Finally, if you collect, store and process personal data for your clients, you need to understand privacy regulations, including the recent EU GDPR legislation.
Get Your Employees in Line
When your aim is to ensure compliance, talking to your employees and providing them with the tools they need is an indispensable step. Your staff could be your best allies – or your worst nightmare if they do not understand what they need to do properly.
A recent study across 400 companies in the US and the UK revealed that 23% of employees are not familiar with a core aspect of their jobs, so training is essential in order to maintain compliance. Making sure that employees always have access to the company policies outlining compliance standards, have clear instructions and understand the risks involved in compliance procedures is a first step towards guaranteeing that you live up to regulatory demands.
Regular updates and project management software that has in-built compliance features can help your staff achieve those goals, while it is advisable to meet with team leaders regularly and check up on the process and potential problems.
Get the Help You Need
As your company grows, regulatory requirements might be too much to handle on your own. You can always turn to specialized professionals and hire a compliance officer to make sure that everything is up to speed – their average base salary in the US is $78,203 annually. You might also want to hire a consultant for on-site evaluations like fire and safety requirements.
Alternatively, you could outsource some of your compliance oversight to a compliance agency for roughly $3,000 per month and be able to scale according to your needs. Professional associations also sometimes help their members with run-of-the-mill requirements by hiring dedicated professionals and keeping in touch with regulatory bodies.
Bureaucracy is never easy but whichever way you choose to go, compliance needs to be treated with the seriousness it deserves. It is better to lay good foundations from the start than invest money and time into mitigating consequences that stem from non-compliance.