Running a new business may sometimes feel like surfing in the high seas; things can change rapidly. Such was the case with the introduction of the now infamous GDPR and by extension, CCPA regulations.
The 2018 GDPR storm caught many companies, both big and small, pants down. J.W. Marriot, Facebook, British Airways, Bounty UK, and Equifax are some of the giants that found themselves on the receiving end of GDPR enforcers. The companies had to pay hefty fines for non-compliance.
What’s more, the maximum fine for GDPR violations was recently raised to a whopping £20 million, or 4% of an offending company’s annual turnover.
How Can You Future Proof Your Startup Against Regulatory Requirements?
If you are running a startup, here are some actions you can take to future-proof it in the coming year:
1. Have a Clear and Actionable Internal Plan for Compliance
Ever heard “getting your ducks in a row or crossing the T’s and dotting the I’s”? That is precisely what future-proofing a startup involves. Get every single process, strategy, and tools in the right place for 2020 in anticipation of compliance requirements that may arise.
Running a new startup can be chaotic, and it’s easy for issues such as compliance and info security to be overlooked. To prevent this from happening, formulate an internal plan of action that involves every employee. Let everyone take part in drafting the compliance strategy to promote ownership.
Formulating an internal compliance plan is not a magic bullet of beating regulatory requirements. However, you will have some references when challenges crop up along the way.
2. Compliance Training and Awareness
Dozens of companies have been fined by regulatory authorities for mishandling customer data. For example, British Airways and Marriot experienced severe data breaches by external parties, while other companies had weak internal policies. These examples show a complete lack of training or ownership of basic data protection and compliance practices internally by the companies.
Startups usually face various challenges regarding scheduling and prioritizing internal training programs. This is especially the case when the companies are still onboarding new talent. Do not let employees expose your company to potential regulatory scrutiny through ignorance or accidents that can lead to data security breaches or GDPR/CCPA violations in 2020.
Use various strategies, including gamification, seminars, circulars, and one-on-one sessions to educate employees about data protection and compliance.
3. Keep Tabs of New and Emerging Threats
In 2019, companies had to deal with new data security threats like ransomware. On its own, ransomware sent a number of companies and institutions on a spin as hackers took control of entire databases and file systems, demanding payments in cryptocurrency to restore the affected files. 2020 will definitely see the emergence of new attack vectors as it appears the cybercriminal underworld is getting bolder and stronger every day.
Does your startup handle credit card information and other sensitive data? If yes, you need to know about PCI DSS Standards and be compliant. Did you know that the volume of transactions your firm handles every year determines its compliance requirements? Explore the security compliance requirements for your startup and find out how you can stay safe in 2020.
4. Make Compliance Part of Your Overall Decision-Making Process
New startups have to make major strategic decisions on a regular basis. The decisions might include forming partnerships, procuring technological solutions, outsourcing work, hiring new talent, among others. All these big decisions need to be done in accordance with regulatory compliance requirements from the onset.
Some compliance issues that startups often face stem from the overall decisions they make. For instance, a data breach might be brought about by an external contractor whom you have outsourced work but is not conversant with data handling regulatory compliance requirements.
5. Treat Compliance as a Risk
Non-compliance can hurt your startup’s bottom-line. So, why not treat it as a risk?
Treating compliance as a direct risk will force you to use every available tool to identify, evaluate, and prioritize risks. From there, you can allocate resources to mitigate the identified risks.
Every company has a risk management strategy. Make use of what you already have now to stay compliant.
6. Ensure Your Employees Are Accountable
It’s not enough just to train your employees about compliance. Rather, go a step further to make sure that all of them are accountable for their actions. Use internal policies and reporting mechanisms to track what employees are doing and how it can affect your data security. Let employees know that they will be held personally accountable for any actions that might lead to non-compliance.
Regulatory challenges often affect new startups harder than established businesses. The best way of tackling these challenges is by anticipating and planning for them. 2020 will come with its own set of compliance challenges. Is your startup ready for them?