Starting a business is a vastly different experience to being an employee. It’s you, maybe on your own, against an enormous array or risks, hazards, and pitfalls.
When something goes wrong, you won’t have the legal representation and resources of a large company to protect you. You won’t have the resources to manage a disaster. And any random incident could put an end to all your hard work and dreams in a matter of moments.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. With the right security and systems in place, you will increase your chances of surviving almost any issue. When random occurrences strike, you will be ready and able to deal with them. Here are some essential guidelines you must follow if you want your startup or small business to get through any security sticky issue.
Let’s start with ensuring your business has all the legal protection it needs. And make no mistake about it, there is a lot to consider. Incorporation, contracts, data protection, industry regulations – the list is endless. Unless you are a qualified business lawyer, the only way to navigate through all these issues is by hiring an attorney. Don’t just go with the first lawyer you come across, either. Just because a legal firm helps startups and small businesses does not mean they have the right industry knowledge. Always look for a firm that has experience in your field, and have helped other companies with similar legal requirements.
A good lawyer will help you lay the foundations of a successful business. They will protect you against claims of intellectual property theft, for example. Conversely, they will also out copycats who are stealing your ideas. Your lawyer will also help make your contracts with employees, suppliers, and clients watertight. They can also help you work out disagreements so they resolve themselves without too much damage to your business. In short, a lawyer will help you save a lot of money in the long-term, and free up your resources to focus on making your new business work.
Once you have a robust legal foundation in place, you can move onto one of the biggest threats every modern business will face: cyber crime. No business is too small to be hacked, and the vast majority of cyber criminals will target companies they believe to be unprepared. Every database, customer list, and transaction record can be incredibly valuable to thieves. And without the right protection in place, you are likely to suffer a security breach. Almost one in two businesses fall victim to cybercrime at some point – don’t let yourself become part of those statistics.
The first step is to install malware protection and antivirus on every piece of company equipment. It’s an absolute bare minimum, or you will be leaving the door wide open for hackers to harvest and exploit your business data. You should also invest in training up your team. It only takes an ignorant employee to click on a malicious link in a spam email to cause a data breach. Ensure that everyone uses strong passwords, and take out insurance that will cover you when things go wrong. Don’t forget, if a hacker is determined enough to access your data, no security system is robust enough to keep them at bay. Your job is to make it as hard as possible for them so they move onto an easier target. But you should also protect yourself against the inevitable, or you could be liable for financial compensation.
Secure your premises
The next step is to ensure you are working in a secure environment. The bricks and mortar business is incredibly appealing to burglars and thieves. The chances are you will have a lot of expensive equipment, inventory, or money lying around, which makes you a big target for criminals. Start by investing in alarm and camera systems. Make sure that anyone who can access your premises operates under strict controls and guidelines. And, ensure your employees understand the need for locking doors and closing windows at the end of each day.
You also need to secure your premises to prevent accidents and disasters. Your employee’s safety is solely your responsibility, and you could end up in court if you neglect your duties. Make sure you are running regular health and safety sessions to educate your workers on the dangers of the workplace. Keep your offices and workplace free of hazards and always follow the health and safety guidelines laid out by your state and industry.
Secure your reputation
Don’t forget, your company will only be as successful as people view you. Maintaining a good reputation is critical if you want to last the distance. You can put in years of hard work, only for a massive PR blunder to ruin your dreams in a matter of days. Mistakes will happen, of course. But it’s how you manage and deal with those mistakes that will separate success and failure. Take your customer service as the perfect example. One example of poor service could wreck your reputation overnight – especially if news of the incident goes viral on social media. But if you respond well and show people it was just an honest mistake, you will limit the damage. And, you might just turn a disgruntled customer into a happy one.
You will need to keep your ears to the ground if you want to manage and secure your reputation. While the Internet is a fantastic opportunity for businesses, it can also become a graveyard if you aren’t careful. Set up Google Alerts and watch out for people badmouthing your company on social media. Take notice of what they are saying, of course, and always try to respond in a positive way. Hiring a good PR firm can help you minimize any damage, and turn poor exposure into positive news.