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How Can You Shield Your Small Business From Disaster?

StrategyDriven Risk Management Article |Small Business Protection|How Can You Shield Your Small Business From Disaster?In the early days of launching a small business, getting everything set up and running smoothly, trying to attract new customers and generate some revenue, security is an easy matter to forget about. In fact, it’s an easy matter to forget about in general, as it usually isn’t until something goes wrong that you may even notice the lack of it.

But if the current global pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that we never quite know what is around the corner. There is a need to be prepared though, and safeguard the business assets that you have built up so carefully. Life is full of uncertainties, and there’s nothing worse than watching everything you’ve worked so hard for get destroyed by a random twist of fate. While you can’t completely insulate yourself from every single eventuality, there are steps you can take to ensure that you have the right insight and contingency plans in place should the worst happen.

Get Protected Against Cyber Attacks

One of the biggest threats to small businesses is cyber-security. We live in a data-driven society now, and unfortunately the illegal exchange of some of those details is big business on the black market. If customer or employee details fall into the wrong hands, it’s very bad news. These details can be used in criminal activity and the repercussions can be severe. Businesses who fall victim to these types of attacks suffer a lot of damage – both because they may fall foul of data protection laws and can be prosecuted by the authorities, but also because of the reputational damage. Customers talk, and if they feel that you have not taken the right measures with their data, they’re unlikely to come back again. This goes double for digital businesses where there is a strong element of trust involved in customers handing over their details for a transaction. It’s a fact that small and medium sized enterprises are targeted more regularly by those with malicious intent, as they assume the security systems will either not be in place, or will be less sophisticated than those used by blue-chip corporations. Start by making sure that you have the latest anti-virus and malware software installed with regular security patches – Norton even make this type of software specifically for small businesses. Make sure that when you transfer data it’s sent securely via an encrypted data transfer service. Only collect the minimum of customer data that you need, be sure of what the purpose of any piece of information that you collect is and securely dispose of it as soon as it’s no longer needed. Simple steps like never leaving company devices unattended, requiring use of a secure password that is regularly updated and using automatic screen locking can also help.

Dealing With Natural Disaster

It’s not something that anyone likes to think about, but events in the natural world can sometimes overtake us. The recent forest fires, or things like hurricanes show that extreme conditions can and do occur and seem to be getting more frequent. The Small Business Disaster Survey found that 74 per cent of small businesses in the US don’t have a proper disaster recovery plan in place – meaning that if a worst-case scenario did occur, it would effectively spell the end of their company. Getting the right insurances for your business should never be an area where you cut corners. Find an insurance broker that you can speak to about your needs who will be able to find the cover that fits your business best – it can be very specific to what you do. You may find the requirements of restaurant insurance are quite different from those of an office based or a manufacturing business.

Creating A Communications Plan

Whether the situation is a natural disaster, a man-made one, or something completely unforeseen like Coronavirus, having a crisis communications plan in the event of things not being ‘business as usual’ is essential. You need to be able to send the right messages to employees and to customers when life throws a curveball. Your employee plan should include making sure that staff are safe, and determine if there are any alternative working arrangements that can be offered on a temporary basis. Remember that people are your most valuable resource, so be sensitive in your approach – if your staff have been through a crisis they may well need time to deal with their own lives and family issues as well. You should also consider what you might need to tell your customers. In some situations, you won’t be exactly sure what is happening and when business will be back to normal, and it’s okay to admit this. Just be clear that you are doing your utmost to get things back on track, keep communicating as the situation develops and be clear about channels customers can use to contact you.

Identifying Business Critical Activities

Not many small businesses can afford to shut down indefinitely if a crisis occurs. You’ll want to do what you can to get up and running again in some way, even if it’s not full service. So it’s a good idea to create a plan of which activities are business critical to your operations, and which ones could be temporarily shelved if need be. This allows you to plan resources better, and potentially redirect employees onto more urgently needed tasks. Work out of there are parts of it that can be done from an alternative location if your premises are affected. It’s always a good idea to have a back-up plan for a range of scenarios in place.

Keep In Contact With The Small Business Administration

There is some federal support available if disaster bites. The Small Business Administration (SBA) will provide disaster relief loans of up to $2 million on favourable terms, so if it’s a case of severe cash flow issues, look into those circumstances before turning to other sources of funding. You should be able to use social media to contact them if other lines of communication aren’t accessible. Equally, there can be some mileage in crowdfunding if you do it correctly. People are generally very willing to help out small businesses with a clear mission statement, so it can be worth stating your case.

Make Time To Look After Yourself

Small business owners are used to operating under a lot of pressure, and of course in times of hardship, this can go through the roof. It may seem like you’re getting pulled in every direction, but it’s important to remember that you need to treat yourself like any other resource and safeguard your own wellbeing. This means taking steps like ensuring you are getting adequate nutrition and a good night’s sleep where possible, taking some daily exercise and doing things to ease the anxiety you’re likely to be experiencing, such as using a mindfulness app or accessing a counselling service if necessary.

Securing Your Premises

Ensuring the physical security of your premises is also important. Any crime against your property is potentially a disaster that can raise the cost of doing business. Theft of business property is sadly a serious issue that does go on in companies of all sizes. Discovering one of these crimes on your own doorstep can be deeply upsetting, and take a long while to recover from. Deciding on a secure location for your premises and investing in things like a cctv network can all help to lessen the risks you face. A buildings security expert can help you to make an assessment of your premises and advise on what could be improved. Things such as steel security doors or shutters to prevent unauthorized entry, a secure alarm system throughout the building with motion sensors and automatic police notification may be worth it depending on what you do and store in your location and where it is. Adding lighting in darker areas and key entry points as well as cameras that can alert directly to your mobile phone are also steps you can take to make your physical business location a bit safer. Some businesses also decide they want to take the step of employing security guards or dogs to patrol at night – understanding how high risk your business is for an attack will help with this. Doing a comprehensive risk assessment for your premises is a good way to look at the situation dispassionately and identify any areas you could work on to make it easier to secure.

With all the many risks that going into business entails, it can be very hard to know where to concentrate efforts and resources. But it’s clear that failing to take any action at all could stand a real chance of jeopardizing everything you have worked so hard to build up. Taking small steps and pulling together a practical plan of action doesn’t have to be difficult. With the right preparation, you get the peace of mind of knowing that when everything goes a little crazy, you have the planning in place to help you get through the situation and survive to trade another day.

The Nitty-Gritty Aspects To Consider When Starting A Business

StrategyDriven Starting Your Business Article |Starting a Business|The Nitty-Gritty Aspects To Consider When Starting A BusinessThe world is business is simple and complicated in almost equal measure. The idea is fairly straightforward, and once you understand the fundamentals, you can be off and on your way to something special. The complicated parts are the initial understanding of those basics and having the drive to continue working hard in order to achieve what you can.

We all have different parts of life that we’re good at and that we’re comfortable with. The majority of us tend to enjoy the more colourful and creative sections of any project. With that said, the majority of us will then tend to struggle with the more tedious aspects. Those annoying nitty-gritty parts can bore us to death, but they do need to be done in order to get things up and running. If you don’t know what these kinds of things are, then here are a few examples for you – hopefully, they give you an idea of the other side of the grind:

Where/How Are You Going To Stump Up The Capital?

In order to make money in this game, you need to invariably spend it first. If you have no money to begin your venture, then you’re going to struggle to get everything moving. Saving up for a while is the easiest way to stump up the money, of course, but you could look for investment via start-up loans and angel investors, too. You could also take the bootstrapping approach if you feel as though you can organically make something out of precious little.

Do You Understand All The Necessary Formalities

As we mentioned before, there are many little nuggets of info that need to be sorted out and submitted before you can even begin your business. You also need to confirm things personally for the likes of tax reasons. Right now, you may not have much of an idea of what these formalities are, but a quick internet search will point you towards registration, data laws, and health & safety aspects.

What Insurance Do You Need?

Every business should have insurance if it wants to be a successful one. You never know what issue(s) might be around the corner, so having that financial safety net could (and probably would) prevent you from disaster. You do, however, need to make sure your business policy offers the proper coverage, so scanning through a bunch of different policies is imperative.

How Much Will You Spend On Marketing?

Marketing will always be important in terms of selling a product or offering a service. The amount you spend on it needs to be taken into account, though. Are you going to work with an agency, for instance, or will you build up hours of screen time yourself? This kind of thing matters as you’ll want the best possible return on investment regarding such a significant aspect of a business.

How You Can Protect Yourself as a Business Owner

StrategyDriven Risk Management Article |Protect your Business|How You Can Protect Yourself as a Business OwnerRunning a business is challenging and can be extremely stressful at times. Many things can go wrong, from losing a client or a slump in sales to an employee threatening legal action against you. This is why you must have things put in place to protect your business and yourself as the business owner. Here are some ways that you can do this.

Insurance

Every business needs insurance, and it is illegal to being trading without it. There are many different covers you can have included in your policy, but things like errors and omissions, business interruption, general liability, and worker’s comp cover are the most common. Your insurance policy will help protect you financially and legally for things that are included in the policy. Even if you think certain events are unlikely to happen, it’s better to protect yourself against unforeseen circumstances that could potentially ruin your business.

Employment Law

If you’re going to hire employees to work for your company, which is most likely, it’s worth becoming familiar with the employment laws. It’s better than you have at least some basic understanding of what your rights are as an employer and what your obligations are to your staff. If you are struggling to comprehend the employment law, seek the advice of an attorney who can explain this to you in terms that you understand.

Accountant

Your business finances are essential. Without a healthy revenue stream coming in, your business will struggle to stay afloat and could potentially go bankrupt. It can be challenging to control your finances effectively, especially if your sales are taking a hit. However, you still need to make regular outgoing payments for this like rent on office space, employee wages, bills, and so forth. Hiring the help of a professional accountant could help you protect your business’s financial health by advising you on areas where you can save money and how to make the best reinvestments into the business. They can also monitor any suspicious activity that appears in your accounts, which could save you from legal issues and financial ruin.

Human Resources

Smaller businesses might not be able to hire a specific HR team, but every business should have an HR representative to protect both the company and the staff. HR is responsible for mediating and taking record of conversations regarding grievances in the workplace, whether that be between two staff members or an employee and the employer. They will try to resolve the issue at work to avoid it escalating to legal action; however, if this does happen, they will also be there to help with the situation along with the hired legal time.

Contracts

Finally, you should always have contracts drawn up for anyone you are doing business with. From employees to suppliers, having these contracts in place will be proof that you have agreed on specific terms of service. They will also make the other party more comfortable and hold you accountable for your end of the agreement.

You must protect yourself as a business owner. Many things could go wrong, therefore, don’t allow yourself to get caught out by not thinking about these basic things that you should have in place.

Why Your Business Needs Insurance

StrategyDriven Entrepreneurship ArticleOwning a business can be very rewarding, but it’s a lot of hard work too. As a business owner, you are responsible for the well-being of your business, which includes managing employees, inventory and other assets. So what can you do to make sure you’re properly managing all of these assets and that your business is protected?

Commercial insurance is every business’s best friend. Whether something happens to your inventory or you need to pay worker’s compensation to an injured employee, commercial insurance can help you deal with it. In fact, everybody who owns a business should have some form of commercial insurance — and here’s why.

Legal Requirements

Although you aren’t necessarily required to insure your business, there are certain types of business insurance which you may be required to carry. Any business that has employees is required to carry worker’s compensation insurance. This type of coverage will pay for worker’s compensation claims if an employee is unable to work due to an injury.

Worker’s compensation coverage can cover a range of costs, from medical bills and bills associated with recovery to missed wages and funeral costs. Not only are you generally required to have worker’s comp coverage, it’s a smart idea to have it anyway since worker’s comp claims are usually quite large.

Protecting Your Inventory

If you run a brick-and-mortar business with a large amount of inventory that keeps your business afloat, lost or damaged inventory can be devastating. Even a small fire could significantly cut into your profits. When you have good business insurance, though, these losses are softened significantly. Many business insurance providers will even allow you to purchase a specific insurance policy for your line of business to make sure all of your industry-specific losses and perils are covered.

You can also purchase commercial vehicle insurance if you have a fleet of vehicles. If an employee gets into an accident on the job, damages to property and the vehicle may be covered.

Make sure you talk with your insurance agents about what you need to have covered. Different commercial insurance policies may only cover losses from certain events, in which case you may want to purchase additional coverage to protect yourself.

Downtime

Sure you may be young and spry when you start your business, but that can quickly change. If your business relies on you being around to make important decisions and handle managerial tasks, commercial insurance can cover you in the event that you become disabled or ill. This can be the difference between your business failing or staying afloat if something happens to you.

Liability

One of the toughest things for any business, whether large or small, is being held liable for the injury, illness or death of a consumer. Fortunately, business insurance with product liability coverage can help you absorb some of the damage. You can also purchase general and professional liability coverage to further protect your business in the event that it’s held liable for something.

Choose Wisely

Like any form of insurance, there are a lot of options when purchasing business insurance. It’s important to have some understanding of the different types of coverage and what your business needs before you buy. You don’t want to purchase coverage your business doesn’t need, but it’s crucial to make sure your business is covered.

Before you purchase a policy for your business, make sure you shop around with a few different providers to get an idea of the coverage they offer and the premium you’ll have to pay. Read reviews and ask around about different insurance companies and agents to make sure you’re getting the best coverage with the best service and price.