Both the UK Government and the EU have recently declared that they intend to cut red tape. Business Secretary Sajid Javid has said that he said that he wants to get heavy handed regulators off the backs of small businesses. The UK Government believes that cutting over £10bn of red tape will boost British business's ability to grow.
So what exactly is meant by the term red tape? One accepted definition is that it is the aspects of regulations that:
- are time-consuming but don't result in worthwhile outcomes;
- require paperwork to be completed just for the sake of it;
- make no common sense;
- are complicated;
- exist when they are no longer necessary; or
- are restrictive to i
In my work as a business consultant and mentor I have seen first-hand how these kinds of regulations can add to the cost of running a business. So as a small business owner what can you do to cope with red tape? When tackling a bureaucratic task, these are the approaches I recommend.
- Be kind and courteous in your dealings with the officials you come into contact with - even the annoying jobsworths! Follow the golden rule of treating others the way you'd like to be treated yourself. When you're frustrated, remember that it's not the customer service staff who created the red tape. Be rude to them and they will likely be rude to you and won't be inclined to help you. Talk to them like you would any other person who is offering you a service.
- Be systematic and detailed-orientated. Aim to get things right first time. Read the fine print and take care how you answer any questions.
- Expect setbacks along with twists and turns. Even if all your papers are in order, don't be surprised if the process changes or new documents need to be filled in along the way.
- Keep notes and maintain a paper trail. Things get lost and you never know when you might need to recall something that happened or something that was said. So keep a record of conversations you have and photocopy all documents.
- Don't get frustrated. Be resolute and keep plugging away until you get the result you want.
- Get help if you're really stuck. The cost pf specialist professional advisors can be well worth the hassle and time they will save you.
To really fuel the small business sector there is no doubt we need less red tape, simpler red tape and clearer red tape. This whole issue can be particularly confusing for start-ups who are not familiar with all the government regulations and requirements that go with running a business.
A certain amount of red tape, however, is inevitable. But follow my six tips and your dealings with government departments and other bureaucracies and you will save enormous amounts of time and energy - and your sanity!