Is red a good colour or a bad colour? Red carpet, Red Nose Day, ‘C’mon on you reds’; all good stuff. Red light, Chris de Burgh’s Lady in Red, Red light district - not so hot.
Then there’s Red Letter Days, Red Rum, Red O’Dare and, of course red tape…
It’s the last of these that I’m going to concern myself with. Regulations, recommendations, laws, guidelines, standards, hoops to jump through, opportunities - whatever you want to call them, they need to be faced.
Often red tape really is an opportunity. Take Part P of the building regulations introduced last year. Most members of the public haven’t heard of it but it’s busily protecting them from Cowboy electricians without their knowledge. Furthermore, Part P compliance is a wonderful marketing opportunity for those electricians who register. What better sales tool than being able to tell your customers that the Government has created a regulation that says you can be trusted?
However, just as often red tape can be a disadvantage, particularly for small businesses. My own experience, of setting up a small PR firm in late December last year, includes waiting for two months for a VAT number and seven weeks for a bank account to be opened. Clearly, VAT is a Government issue and the delay with my account is an issue for the Bank to address. However, both were the result of changing procedures or the introduction of further red tape.
So, what‘s the answer - magic scissors? Lobbying Government? Taking my banking elsewhere? Actually, I think its communication - small businesses helping each other. Resources like the Business Link Blogging community are great for this and I’m certain there are other networks and advisory groups that can help.
So here’s my call to action - share your advice and links to other advisors that can help small businesses with red tape. I’ll kick off with a couple of links (below) but please divvy up your own experiences and tips below. Lets make red a good colour!
http://www.fsb.org.uk/ - The Federation of Small Business
http://www.avn.co.uk/ - A network of accountants who specialise in small business advice