A start-up’s guide to dealing with red tape and bureaucracy

Red tape! Two words that are guaranteed to get an entrepreneur’s bull-ish side charging.


Whether it is government regulations or corporate bureaucracy, it can be confusing, frustrating and, of course, extremely time consuming.


It can be especially bewildering as a start-up when you are not familiar with all the government regulations and requirements that go with running a business. Red tape is, however, inevitable; so knowing how to effectively work with government departments can save you enormous amounts of time and energy.


Here are a few thoughts that may be helpful:


1. Be prepared. Start the process with plenty of time to see it through. Research what is required, the process and documentation that needs to be completed and the relevant time frames for its completion. Armed with this knowledge, have all your documentation and information ready and organised.


2. Be thorough. Aim to get the process right the first time. This will mean you will need to understand the finer details of the application and the implications of the answers you provide. An incorrect answer may result in extra ongoing work.


3. Be kind. Kindness goes a long way. How helpful the customer service person you are dealing with may be proportionate to the pleasantness of your interaction. Find out the person’s name and talk to them like you would any other business associate who is offering you a service.


4. Expect a ‘boomerang effect’. You may think you have all your papers in order, but yesterday a new document was added to the requirement. You didn’t know this then. You know it now. Don’t lose it. If you have covered off point three above then you may find a sympathetic customer service person who will fast-track you next time you call.


5. Keep a paper trail. This includes keeping notes on the conversations you have with each customer service person. When you call back you can drop their name to your new customer service person, so that they know you aren’t completely ‘green’ in this area.


6. Be persistent. Don’t get frustrated. Get determined. Each time you call you are a little more aware of the process. Keep plugging away until you get the resolution you require.


7. Seek help. Even better than doing the process yourself get a professional advisor to do it! The costs will often be well worth the time saving, which can be refocused on your business.


Follow these tips and hopefully your next encounter with ‘red tape’ will steal less of your entrepreneurial time.


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