The Importance Of Staying Compliant

Running a business of your own is one of the most exciting things that you can do.  Calling the shots, making the decisions and forging your path.  It is entirely intoxicating.

Enter:  Financial Compliance.  One can just about hear the collective groan of American business owners all over these United States come filing season but even before you get to that blessed time of year: Tax filing day, there are still some very important ongoing business continuity financial obligations that you absolutely have to stay on top of.

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#1 – Do you have sufficient knowledge of your compliance obligations?

As our businesses grow and change, so do our commitments evolve accordingly.  The key pillars to be constantly aware of include: identification, prevention, monitoring and detection, resolution and advisory. If you don’t have an in-house compliance department and can’t yet afford an agency or officer on retainer, then a good knowledge of these 5 pillars of compliance will stand you in good stead.

#2 – Industry specific compliance

Some industries have tougher and complex rules than others.  For example, if you’re a financial services broker you have reporting and auditing responsibilities that someone a proprietor in the hospitality industry wouldn’t have, and vice versa.  If you’re a hotel or restaurant operator you have greater responsibilities with the United States Public Health than a swimming pool manufacturer etc.

#3 – Know your responsibilities but know your rights too

You need to know what your responsibilities are as they pertain to compliance in your industry and sphere of operation, but equally, you have rights and entitlements that are part of the system too.  These rights extend past legal protections to things like tax credits for research and development projects etc.  You can learn more here.

#4 – Keeping your eye on the ball

So when filing and reporting seasons come, our focus can easily be dragged away from running the rest of our business.  In between all of the legal “stuff”, you still need to keep the bills paid.  Just like you consider different ways to keep your business safe online, or keeping sales coming in, so too must you keep focus on all the other key areas as well.

#5 – Keeping your cool when things go less than well

It happens to the best of us.  A non-disclosure form went “missing” or an errant employee decided to go home with the company laptop – then lost it, a data breach wasn’t recorded correctly.  All of these things can and at some stage probably will happen and the singular worst thing that you can do is to try and cover it up.  Not only will you be found out eventually, but you are also far more likely to find a sympathetic ear with authorities when you practice full disclosure and your legal team can help you with this.  If your own integrity doesn’t make this demand of you, remember this – we live in the age of the whistleblower.  

Of course, laying a solid foundation from the very start of your business that by definition includes sound ethics and business process integrity, will mean that come reporting season or those wonderful “ad hoc” visits from your local authorities compliance team, will be far less stressful.

The compliance rule of thumb: Stay prepared, that way – you won’t have to get prepared.