So you thought compliance was boring…

Businesses have a habit of growing, and as they do so the rules become more stringent. It’s called governance and smaller businesses aren’t much taken with it; the people who bootstrapped their companies by the seat of their pants tend to regard it all as a bit of red tape.

All of which looks reasonable enough at first glance but if you thought “governance” was a bore, then consider how much duller it is if you get caught by it.

First, a bit of an explanation. Essentially, corporate governance is about playing by the rules, and those are there to balance the interests of all of the stakeholders. So disclosure and transparency is an important element of it, as are (of course) tax and VAT for the government, data protection for customers and a great many other things. There will be procedures to protect your employees in case you go megalomaniac on them. The person who is skilled at implementing this governance may not actually be the person who built the business up – start-up skills can be different from the professionalised, day to day running of a medium sized business.

Yes, compliance takes time. And yes, it’s boring. And yes, failure to adhere to it  will shred your business’ reputation when it emerges that you’re cutting corners. Anyone in any doubt should check the press coverage when any major corporate is suspected – not proven, mind you – of underpayment of tax, or found to be using a supplier accused of – once again, not proven – using forced or child labour because a compliance check didn’t happen somewhere down the supply chain.

Technology can help, with data protection and in terms of securing client details from attack. It may never be perfect; companies the size of Sony have been hit by data leaks before. But having a documented and technically-supported procedure for making data as safe as possible can only be a good thing.

Oh, and make sure you pay your taxes…