'How I cut through government red tape'

Everyone in business dreads having to fight against red tape. My Business speaks to one business owner who deals with more regulation than most about his approach to overcoming this burden.

Dealing with regulation is an exercise in frustration. It is an arduous task, but it is something that has to be done.

Sydney Seaplanes CEO Aaron Shaw has to work within air and maritime regulations, as well historical rights, at its Rose Bay location on Sydney Harbour.

“Rose Bay is zoned aviation, and that is because of those historical usage rights dating back to the 1930s,” explains Aaron on the My Business Podcast.

“The barriers to entry are quite high … like having a commercial aviation licence, getting the aircraft, getting the pilots, as well as commercial barriers to entry in terms of competing with long-term existing operators.”

When Aaron wanted update his business offering in the Rose Bay area to better use his assets, there were even more hoops he had to jump through.

A close-up of a tape dispenser with red tape in it“Any development over the water in Sydney Harbour is a massive process to get approved. It is incredibly expensive in money as well as time,” he says.

“The challenges for those sort of new services, [there] are a lot of bureaucratic hurdles to get through. Aviation is a massively regulated industry, and when you combine that with water, you've got the maritime component to comply with.”

In addition to development regulations, Aaron also has to comply with regulations in relation to the safety of his customers, as Sydney Seaplanes incorporates champagne in its product offerings.

“We can't have people who are hammered getting on the plane, who can't walk or who are really seriously impaired through being drunk. It is part of our obligations to CASA [the Civil Aviation Safety Authority] that we aren't able to take heavily intoxicated people,” explains Aaron.

“We want people to have fun and go out and have a few glasses of wine and enjoy [themselves], but as long as people aren't well over the edge of that enjoyment to the point of being really riotously drunk, then that is fine.

“We have had a rare occasion where we have had to leave people behind or say, ‘Sorry, we're going to have to arrange another way of getting you back, because we are not comfortable with your level of intoxication’.”

However, Aaron's business demonstrates that perseverance is the main ingredient in overcoming red tape, and that actively incorporating compliance into your business plan and your daily routine is more useful than trying to combat it.

“Our business is quite heavily [regulated]. No doubt a lot of [other] businesses are as well, in a variety of industries. I think it's a matter of keeping strong, regular relationships with those various governing agencies,” he says.

“[Make] sure that you are staying compliant and you've got good personal relationships with those that matter within those organisations.”

Hear more insights from Aaron, including on operating a business at the mercy of the weather and forming relationships with other businesses for mutual benefit, on the My Business Podcast now!

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