Being part of a start-up takes guts, lots of coffee and working all hours – hat’s off to you!
Your sales are starting to come in steadily, you’ve hired great people who believe in your vision and you’re your
own boss, but, it gets to a point where you have to put your sensible hat on and start thinking about policies, ethics and compliance.
WHAT ARE THESE I HEAR YOU SAY?
Policies: Documents setting out how your organisation deals with a wide range of issues. Ethics: Rules, principles and standards your organisation has to determine right or wrong in all aspects of doing business. Compliance: Conforming to rules and regulations set out by law or a governing body.
Sure, they aren’t as fun as building your team or watching your dream grow from an idea on a scrap of paper, but without getting them in place early on, it will have the same effect as building a house without foundations.
WHAT ARE THE REASONS BUSINESS LEADERS GIVE FOR PUTTING IT OFF?
“What we did before worked” – Thinking this way means that you’re not looking forward enough to protect the things you value. This could be your people, your profits, your products or even your property.
“I’m concentrating on growth” – Nothing harms growth more than a scandal that could have been prevented.
“My team are good people, we’ve a relationship built on trust” – This is good – It’s actually fundamental to a successful ethics and compliance programme. Introducing this in the right way won’t change that, but it will provide your team with reference points for issues they may come up against.
“Nothing dampens creativity and innovation more than rules” – For creativity and innovation to thrive, you need the right culture and you also need to be able to get the creative ideas across the line. Every organisation should have well thought out policies that match the organisational culture (or where the culture should be), establish good ethics and take compliance seriously. Having your dream come crumbling down because of something so simple would be heart-breaking.
To put it bluntly, if you don’t have a decent policies, ethics and compliance programmes in place, you run the risk of getting caught out - resulting in a negative impact on your finances, employee morale, productivity or retention, reputation or even with litigation. When one of these is happens, the others tends to follow.
WHEN IS THE RIGHT TIME TO THINK ABOUT POLICIES, ETHICS AND COMPLIANCE PROGRAMMES?
Naturally, it’s easier to have everything in place as early on as possible during your growth. It is far simpler to on-board new employees with this as an organic and established part of your culture, than to deal with the fallout of something going wrong. But whatever stage your organisation is at, taking action now, will get you going in the right direction.
I absolutely know what it is like to have a never ending to do list, and this easily becomes one of the “I’ll sort this tomorrow” topics, but if you really champion this, you will be half way there with establishing the approach that is needed.
WHAT STEPS SHOULD YOU TAKE?
Review where you are at. What do you have in place, if anything, at the moment? Do you have anyone in your team who is experienced with any of this, or is this something you will need some outside help on? How do you currently communicate important information to your teams? Where do your teams go if they need help with what to do in a difficult situation? What are the ethical drivers and values your organisation has at the moment? How is this part of your culture at present?
The answers to these questions should give you the starting blocks with which you will then need to build up. I know this can be overwhelming, so if you wish to discuss any of these points, please get in contact.