Many of the most successful businesses of recent years, whether in social media, search, or peer-to-peer, could be described as being ‘ahead of their time.’ In fact, these businesses may be so far ahead of their time that they exist in a kind of ‘legal limbo’ — with innovation taking businesses beyond the reach of cumbersome regulatory bodies. The legal battles between Uber and London’s black cabbies, for example, reveal the tensions that may emerge when the law is slow to respond to innovation.
Business owners can’t, and shouldn’t, be slow to innovate simply because innovation may take them into a legal grey area. But this creates another kind of stress for business owners, the very real possibility that changes to the law could potentially put them out of business. If you are a business owner on the innovative edge of an emerging sector, it’s vital that you have a plan in place that will protect your business from unwelcome legal changes.
- Get educated.
If you do hear of legal changes or debates that could affect your industry — such as the debate on whether the Uber app constitutes a taximeter, or the proposed Tobacco Products Directive that could ban 95% of vaping products on the market — then now is the time to consider getting some solid legal advice if you can afford it.
- Get organised
Don’t ignore grassroots effort either, as these can prove effective if you are able to build up momentum. Engage with your customers on what the issue is and how it will affect your industry, both online and in person, as your customers could end up being your sturdiest support base.
- Get your facts straight
- Get political
Don’t forget to get in touch with your local MP either. If you can convince them that voters care strongly about this issue, that the public good is at stake, or that there will be substantial job losses in their constituency due to the proposed changes, then you might be able to get them on your side. Use your store, website and social media profiles to encourage your customers to get in touch with their local MPs too. You can also petition the government if you have a particular request. Achieving 10,000 signatures means that your letter will be responded to by the government, whereas 100,000 signatures in less than six months means that your letter will be debated in parliament.
- Get publicised
- Get tough
- Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst…
By Pascal Culverhouse of the Electric Tobacconist