As a small business owner, you know that the holidays aren’t always a time of happiness and joy. While it is nice to get that profit boost from customers rushing to buy gifts and acquire your services, there are also plenty of people looking to cause harm to your business. It is not uncommon for companies to see an increase in fraud, theft, or lawsuits during the holidays, so it is important to be proactive so you can protect your little company from malicious forces.
Below we will talk about some of the biggest threats during this time of the year and provide helpful advice so that you can deter criminals and have a happier and more successful holiday season.
If you have a physical storefront then you need to ensure that you are protecting it from criminals who may want to break in and steal your money or your merchandise. This is especially important in city environments where you have people walking back and forth and looking inside of your store with bad ideas. Make sure that the doors are locked when you close for the night and activate the alarm as soon as you leave the premises.
In addition to securing the doors and windows, it is a good idea to install security cameras around the premises and make sure that they are charged and equipped to film suspicious activity. Cameras are a great idea because not only will you be able to provide video footage to the police should a crime occur, but just the sight of the cameras outside of your store will often deter potential criminals. It is also smart to have your security system connected to your smartphone so you can be alerted at the moment that an issue occurs.
While smart security is key, you can also deter potential criminals by keeping the most expensive items out of sight when your business is closed. You should also secure any display cases so they cannot be easily accessed or damaged. If possible, you may even want to close the blinds or put something over the windows, so criminals just walk past without even thinking about your business.
Unfortunately, physical security is not your only concern during the holidays because, in this digital world, cybersecurity is of equal importance. It is during this busy time of the year that many cybercriminals try to scam customers and business owners because they know how busy this season can be. Phishing scams are especially prevalent as something as simple as a fake holiday e-card can include a link or attachment that, when clicked or opened, can allow malware and viruses onto your work server. Once there, criminals could have access to your business data and the private information of your customers.
To stay protected from cybercrime, all computer programs must be password-protected with complex passcodes that use a combination of letters, numbers, and special characters. As the holidays approach, it is also a good idea to bring in an IT expert who can provide guidance to you and your staff and look at all of your systems and ensure that they are secure. If you have any remote employees, you will also want to ensure that those folks have secured home networks as well because a virus there could easily transfer to your business.
While hackers are typically after your money and customer data, some cybercriminals may try to hack into your system to steal your product ideas and other intellectual property. If you do notice that someone else suddenly has your confidential idea, you should pursue legal action immediately by contacting a lawyer and showing them evidence of where that information was stored and how the offending party was able to find and retrieve it for themselves. When it comes to securing your intellectual property, you can be proactive and trademark your ideas as soon as you have the chance.
The holidays are supposed to be a time of happiness and cheer, but not everyone is looking to spread joy during this time of year. Instead, your business could see an increase of lawsuits for any number of issues, from a customer who thought they got a raw deal to an employee who doesn’t believe they were paid correctly. For that reason, you must be proactive and put the right protection in place so you can tackle a lawsuit without the need to pay major fines or close down your business.
The most important thing you can do is to find the proper insurance to protect your company. Look for general liability insurance, which will cover any claims in the case of property damage or the injury of a customer or employee. If your company provides services to others, then look for professional liability insurance, which is handy in the case that a customer or client is injured due to an error by one of your employees.
It is also a smart idea to find a competent attorney that you can contact in the case of an emergency. Find a lawyer that is local to the area because they will be familiar with the customs and laws in your area. Finally, make sure that you always keep detailed records of every transaction and process that occurs at your business. The last thing that you need is to get sued and find that you don’t have any documentation to prove your innocence. Be sure to save this information on a backup server, so it isn’t lost if your main computers are compromised.
In the end, there is nothing more important than protecting the small business that you have worked so hard to create. Consider the tips listed here and be ready for anything this holiday season.