In compliance, where prudence reigns in principle, a feeling of risk aversion permeates the profession, at least in terms of reputation. Compliance entrepreneurship therefore almost seems like a non-starter, too incompatible to work in tandem.
“The Compliance Entrepreneur’s Handbook: Tools, Tips & Tactics to Find Your Killer Idea and Create Success on Your Own Terms“ debunks this theory. Not only do authors Kristy Grant-Hart, Kirsten Liston, and Joe Murphy prove that a defeatist attitude is nonsense, they teach readers exactly how to build a lucrative business, from pre-launch to release.
The book is tailor-made for compliance professionals, but the lessons are portable. Anyone who wants to turn a part-time business or low-key dream into a real career will be better off to read this book. Personal example: I don’t want to start a traditional business, but I want to be a novelist, and there have been dozens of takeaways that resonated with me.
That said, the authors don’t mince their words. Going out alone is risky, scary and difficult. âMarket opportunities can be visible long before people act on them – andâ¦ the right time to act is often when they still feel risky,â Liston writes.
So, be prepared for some emotional drums along the way. Authors confess to some of their lows: Grant-Hart’s cash crunch (and 3 a.m. hotel room panic attack) two months after launch Spark compliance; by Liston Rethinking compliance in the face of a sales shortage in 2016, which she dubbed “that dark neighborhood”. Even Murphy’s Integrity Interactive got off to a slow start in its early years.
None of them claim to have been shaken with stardust. They took the bad with the good and kept on trucking, using difficult lessons to inform later iterations of their activities. And by flirting with failure, they learned that working capital was the number one reason businesses fold, so they avoided that pitfall forever.
The flesh of the book delves into the practical aspects of each step. The Pre-Launch Chapters provide a crash course in various business models, pricing models, corporate infrastructure, hiring, partnerships, strategic alliances, and sources of capital. The chapters on performance (that is, on time) explain why Alec Baldwin’s famous phrase, âalways close,â is timeless for a reason. Sales are the most critical part of the business; the authors explain what a USP (Unique Selling Position) is, why people âbuy holes, not drills,â and why planting seeds for selling opportunities is so important.
âPeople like to buy things but hate to be sold on them. And, especially when it comes to compliance, people only buy when they’re ready, and that can take months or years, âthey write.
The third section lists various marketing methods: writing, speaking, building an online presence, and networking. One of my personal teachings was this: âThink long and hard before you commit to writing a book. If you do it right, it can be a huge win. If you don’t, it can be a long and embarrassing waste of time with little to show for your effort and money. See? They serve a hard love.
Exit strategies should be considered up front, they write. Murphy’s Integrity Interactive was bought by SAI Global in 2010, and here it explains why having a product-based business has paid off, literally.
“None of us who started [Integrity Interactive] were essential. It was by design – it was salable and scalable. A potential buyer could see that all he needed to continue as a lucrative business was sufficient management skill, âwrites Murphy.
What I appreciated the most while reading “The Compliance Entrepreneur’s Handbook” is the interaction of the palpable personalities of the three authors. They are industrious visionaries, but they brought three distinct perspectives and voices to the discussion.
Grant-Hart, with her background in theater, film and television, is “The Performer”, explaining how she transformed her Bette Midler-inspired talent for storytelling into effective marketing, including paid speaking engagements.
Murphy reminds me of Malcolm Gladwell’s description of a “connector”: someone who sees an opportunity in connecting with others. âI’d rather be a small part of something big than a big part of something small,â he writes.
Then there is Liston, âthe analystâ, who constantly observes, questions, reflects and synthesizes his knowledge. Even naming his company âRethinkâ speaks to his natural mindset.
In case you’re wondering if they have the common sense to back up their speech, here’s some relevant information: Grant-Hart started a second business, leasing 12 cabins and 38 acres of land in West Virginia; Liston also dabbled in real estate investing, buying ski and town condos in the Denver area; and Murphy, a single father of two, had his children’s college education fully funded and his mortgage paid off by the time he begin his company.
So, as Dolly Parton once sang, pour yourself a cup of ambition. It’s time to break the spine on this one.