Startup Compliance: the why, what and who 

At Compleye, we understand the startup journey. We know your path is different to that of a big corporate. In this article we’ll look at why compliance for startups can be more challenging than compliance for corporates. We’ll take a look at the common mistakes that startups make when it comes to compliance, and why Compleye could be the very partner you didn’t know you needed to help you build a solid compliance solution.  

Startups and Compliance Challenges 

Whether you’re a scalable startup, a small business startup, a lifestyle startup, a buyable startup, a big business startup or a social startup, you’re at the beginning of an exciting and challenging process. One where you take the ultimate responsibility for every choice made, every step of the way, every minute of the day. No pressure.   

It’s a bit like building a house. From the foundations to the walls, the windows to the doors, the floors to the roof, every element has to be thought through, tested, chosen and constructed with the utmost care and with a long term view.  

Whether you’re building a small house that you’ll add on to later; a tiny, cosy cottage; a chic apartment; a house to sell; a megalithic mansion or a party pad, you need to factor in thousands of elements.  

Of course, no matter how beautiful, practical or downright desirable your house is, there is one thing that is more important than all the rest – security. Solid foundations, fire proofing, burglar proofing, weather proofing or sound construction principles, safety and security are (or should be) one of your main concerns. The same applies when it comes to compliance in your startup.  

Unfortunately, as a startup, there are a number of challenges that you might come across when implementing a certification like ISO 27001.

These challenges are what make compliance for startups somewhat different to compliance for corporates. 

  1. You may not have the in-house resources needed to concentrate on the certification process; 
  1. You don’t have the budget to hire more people or buy a full-service security solution; 
  1. You’re so busy building your business that you just don’t have the time or the inclination to focus on certification; 
  1. Just like the upkeep of a house, you know that maintaining the standards that you start with might be costly and require regular time and effort. 

Startups and common compliance mistakes 

Hand in hand with these challenges come common compliance mistakes that are made by startups more often than by corporates.  

  1. Waiting too long 

Growth and profits are your top priorities from day 1 and you’re so focussed on them that you might well put compliance on the back burner. But, safety and security should be right at the top of your list of priorities. Why?  Because customers trust certified companies. It’s as simple as that. What founders need to know is that compliance is one of the most effective startup growth strategies. Given a choice between an uncertified startup and a certified one, they’ll almost always go for the latter. So, raking in the profits and growing your startup go hand-in-hand with being compliant.  

  1. Trying to go it alone 

DIY is du jour. Just look at all the YouTube, Instagram and Tik Tok accounts that focus solely on DIY. And, like most things in life – from renovating your home to fixing your shoe – believe it or not, you can DIY your compliance. In fact, Compleye even has this option. BUT, like most things in life, you’ll save yourself a whole lot of time, money and stress by getting the experts to do what the experts do while you do what you do. If you do decide to DIY, make sure you use a tool like Compleye Online where you still get some support from compliance officers. In fact, you get such great support that we’re thinking of changing the name of the package to the DIYSH – the Do-It-Yourself-ish. Not really.  

  1. Avoiding compliance 

Just like the dentist, sure you can avoid it. But, the longer you avoid it, the more holes will appear in your safety and security structures and the more likely you are to end up having to implement a costly and painful process to bridge the compliance gap. Addressing your compliance early on in your startup life will pave the way for an easy move upmarket.  

  1. Failing to identify compliance goals; 

If you don’t know what you want for your startup in terms of your security goals, you won’t be able to formulate a scope that is effective and that can stand up to scrutiny. Identifying exactly what your Information Security management System (ISMS) will cover, will expedite your compliance journey and clarify the goals for everyone involved.  

  1. Avoiding research into the best compliance tools 

We can help you with this by telling you that Compleye has the best, most cost-effective, simplest to use, most comprehensive and most (almost) fun compliance tool on the market – Compleye Online. But, you’ll probably want to check that for yourself. Don’t say we didn’t tell you so.  

  1. Not training employees 

According to Ben Pollard – a leading ISO 27001 auditor – “Our employees are our first line of defence, and it is essential to empower them with the right security mindset.” 

Whether or not they’re part of your ISMS team, all employees have some responsibility for keeping data secure. And once-off training isn’t enough. Regular, updated training should be held with all employees.  

Startups often neglect to inform everyone of the ins and outs of their ISMS.

According to Pollard, effective ways of informing your staff are: 

  • Security awareness poster campaigns 
  • Computer-based security awareness training 
  • Simulated phishing exercises 
  • Cyber security alerts and advisories 

Startups and Compleye 

At Compleye we get it. We were once a startup too. Plus, we’ve been helping startups since we opened our doors. We also know that you need every competitive edge that you can get so that you don’t become one of the 90% of startups that fail within the first five years. The good news is that stage-appropriate compliance is the most effective way to address your compliance to ensure your startup’s growth.  

That’s why: 

  • We have flexible programmes that you can choose from, starting with a free startupper package, all the way through to full implementation and maintenance packages.  
  • Our process is online and automated, but with the human touch in the form of lean (and never mean) compliance officers.  
  • We offer modern tools, like Compleye Online (which comes with a supporting Wiki) which simplifies the certification process so that you can (almost) enjoy it.  
  • Love giving away free stuff like our free startupper package, free advice, free button badges, the list goes on! And if it’s not free, at least  it’s (almost) fun. 

When you come to Compleye, we’ll start you off with a free demo. Once you’re convinced that we’re the compliance partner for you, you can choose between any of our packages. Whichever package you choose, you’ll get access to some or all of the Compleye Online tool and the accompanying Wiki.  

You’ll also have the support of our Lean Compliance Officers. We’ll take you through every step of your chosen compliance process and make sure that you come through your ISO 27001 certification with flying colours.  

So, what do we do differently? 

  1. We focus ONLY on startups 
  1. We automate AND offer the human touch 
  1. We give you lean compliance 
  1. We keep it simple 
  1. We offer affordable solutions 
  1. We make compliance (almost) fun 

Building for your future 

It’s clear that startup compliance has its own unique set of challenges. But, by addressing safety and security, you can increase the value of the business you’re building. To return to our (almost) clever building analogy, you wouldn’t build a house without a safety certificate, so why build a company without one? 

By allocating whatever time and resources you have available, and reaching out to the right experts (read Compleye), you’ll soon find that you’ve built a safe, secure and solid business with a robust ISMS as its foundation.  

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