How to Run a Responsible Business in a Sector with Few Guidelines

The vast majority of business sectors are regulated, usually with a dedicated body that ensures rules and requirements are fit for purpose and that organisations working in those sectors are licensed and acting responsibly.

But some business sectors fall just outside of the scope of regulation with few clear guidelines to follow and meet. This means the going can be tough for CEOs of organisations in these sectors, for while there are no rules to adhere to, watchdogs can and do raise concerns.

Here Benno Spencer, CEO of Raffle House, talks with CEO Today about the challenges of launching and operating a business in a market where there is little regulatory oversight and CEOs can do  to provide transparency and build trust.

As a gambling company that offers its customers the chance to win property, Raffle House is subject to certain gambling laws; the Gambling Act 2005 sets out clear rules for the mechanic that must be used to operate a genuine prize competition.

However, we are not required to, and cannot, obtain a licence from the UK Gambling Commission. So, what do we do to ensure that, despite being unlicensed, we operate honestly and openly with our customers?

Like any reputable business in any sector, whether tightly regulated or not, we want to do everything we can to ensure that we are working to best practices and meeting the highest possible standards. To do this, we consider two key things: the letter of the law and the spirit of the law.

For Raffle House, the letter of the law relates to the specific prize competition mechanic outlined in the Gambling Act and our steadfast adherence to it. The spirit is how we chose to interpret wider requirements and our approach to operating as honestly and transparently as possible.

But how can this be done?

Talk with relevant regulators and watchdogs

It is worth identifying regulatory bodies that provide oversight to businesses that are similar to yours. For Raffle House, that is the Gambling Commission and to a lesser extent the ASA. You should engage in dialogue with their advisors and experts as well as seeking legal advice.

While the industry bodies may not necessarily be able to provide specific advice for your organisation, they can point out some of the obvious pitfalls to avoid or generally how they would expect a business in their sector to be run in line with regulatory requirements.

This, combined with your own legal advice, can help you find the best path forward.

Engage with similar business that are regulated

Reach out to businesses in similar sectors that are regulated and learn as much as you can about how they meet the guidelines set by regulators and watchdogs. Not everything will apply to you, but there will certainly be key takeaways you can apply to your organisation.

We have taken this a step further by partnering with a Gambling Commission-licensed and regulated company to oversee and manage our draw processes so that our customers know their tickets, and their chances of winning a house or our multiple prize giveaways, are in safe and professional hands.

Onboard experienced advisors

Look to bring on consultants and advisors that are experts in your sector or similar sectors that are regulated. They can then do a complete audit of your business and suggest improvements that can be made to ensure best practices and high standards are being met.

They will also be able to keep you up to date with any changes to regulations and requirements that may also impact your organisation, even if it does not fall under the direct remit of a regulator or watchdog. They may also be able to help broker some of the meetings discussed above.

Operate transparently and communicate with your customers

Hosting a blog and updating your customers regularly is a great way to operate an open-book business, foster greater trust and bolster your reputation. Communication is key to building a recurring customer base.

Similarly, having a presence on the multitude of social media platforms available to all businesses and holding open discourse with your customers there allows you to maintain an open approach through ongoing dialogue about what you’re doing to ensure both the letter and the spirit of the law are being upheld.

These are just some simple steps that CEOs of businesses in unregulated markets could take, with plenty of other options available.

All businesses should look to meet the highest possible standards and that can certainly be achieved by going beyond the letter of the law.

Ultimately, it is about running a business that consumers trust and wish to engage with time and time again. Clear rules and regulations can make this easier, but for CEOs of businesses that do not operate in regulated markets, it is still possible to meet the highest standards by taking the law and the right spirit into consideration.

Sure, it might not be easy but as CEOs it is our duty to ensure best practices are met and maintained. And of course, that is part of the challenge and fun of running a business.

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