Risk Management - Protect your business with these 10 important steps
No matter what type of business you run, there are risk factors you must navigate if you wish to maintain the same level of profit and growth. Tech businesses, in particular, may be susceptible to harm from interruptions such as hacking or power loss. Although there is potential for great profit in this sector, there is also the possibility that people could steal your ideas — not to mention fierce competition. A minor mishap can cause you to fall behind others selling the same or similar services or products.
The landscape of how people shop and interact with brands is changing rapidly. By 2022, researchers predict 70% of brands will use immersive technology for their customers, such as shopping using augmented reality (AR). The fast changes are a dream for tech businesses who can jump in on the trends and gain new customers in the process. However, they're also a nightmare for all companies because placing more data online and investment in new technology puts assets at risk.
Fortunately, there are several things you can do to protect your tech business in 2020 and beyond.
1. Beef up Cybersecurity
Secure the back-end of your operations. This means making sure people can't tap into your cloud and steal customer information and that your employees are trained to not share sensitive data. There are many ways to beef up your cybersecurity, including training employees and installing software to protect your system.
Cybersecurity is a bit different than website hacking. In the former, infiltrators seek personal information about your brand or your customers. In the latter, they typically take over your website. However, there are many areas where the two issues overlap.
2. Prevent Website Hacking
As a website owner, if you've ever seen that dreaded "This site has been hacked" message, you know the aggravation of dealing with hackers. Sometimes, they are simply nuisances and want the fun of seeing if they can take over your site and create a bit of havoc. At a minimum, you look unprofessional to anyone visiting your website during the incident.
However, some hackers are after money or information. They may take your site hostage and demand a ransom to free it back up again. Never pay it. You'd be better off paying a professional to remove any files the hackers have inserted on your site rather than giving in to their blackmail.
Prevent hacking by keeping your website updated. Add secure socket layers and create difficult passwords. If using a content management system (CMS) such as WordPress, keep all themes, plugins and versions updated. Also, install a firewall for additional protection.
3. Prepare for Natural Disasters
Natural disasters can put a real kink in your business operations. If you sell a product, you may have a loss of inventory and your stores may be forced to close. If you sell digital goods, you may run into a situation where employees can't make it to work, or you worry about their safety if they are already there. Loss of power can create a problem for tech companies who serve global customers. Not everyone will understand what you're dealing with on a local level.
Avoid any interruptions with a power system that keeps running even when the electricity is out. Have an evacuation plan for employees, and save as much inventory as safely as possible during a storm or natural event.
4. Avoid Malware Disruptions
Malware is one of the most common security threats to businesses. It either damages or disables your entire computer or network. It can gather details you thought were private, log your keystrokes and even send out spam via your name. If you notice your computers are running slow or you are receiving sudden pop-ups, then you might be the victim of an attack.
Avoid malware disruptions by investing in good security measures. Train employees to never open an email from someone they don't know and not to click on links within them or on suspicious sites. Add antivirus software to all devices, and hire a security professional to look for vulnerabilities in your system and train your workers.
5. Choose a Smart Location
One aspect of protecting your business is avoiding potential robberies. Think about the area where your store or office is located. Is it a high-crime area? Are there plenty of other people around or other office buildings to create a safer environment? You must balance your need for an inexpensive space with your need for keeping your inventory, assets and employees safe. Check crime reports, talk to a real estate agent and enlist the help of local businesses in any area you're considering before leasing or buying real estate.
6. Invest in Big Data Storage
As a tech company, your data is one of the biggest assets you have. Make sure it won't be lost in a natural disaster or hacking event. Spend money on storage that comes with built-in security. You should also back up information in more than one location. For example, if a tornado hits the building where your servers are, how will you access your information? If you have a backup in a second location, it's an easy matter of resaving data to another cloud server.
7. Screen Employees
In a recent organized retail crime (ORC) survey by the National Retail Federation, researchers discovered 92% of companies surveyed had experienced some type of ORC in the last 12 months. Employees may steal something as simple as ink pens or as devastating as company secrets. CFOs embezzle funds and cashiers pocket cash payments. Your first defense is screening employees. Do a thorough background check and call references. You may still hire someone who isn't honest, but at least you'll weed out the worst criminals from the beginning.
8. Take Out Enough Insurance
Every six months or so, do a full inventory of the business. How much would it cost you if you were shut down for two weeks? How would you pay your employees? What if all your computers were destroyed in a flood? Do you own the building? Take a full account of your business's worth and talk to your insurance agent to make sure you have enough coverage for any losses and downtime in a worst-case scenario.
9. Save for an Emergency
While you can't predict every possible catastrophe that might strike your business, you can have an emergency fund in place to help you through the worst times. Even if you prepare in every way possible and you have enough insurance, you may need some operating money until the payment comes through. Make sure you have enough money to cover a few months or so of no cash coming in at all. Within that time, you'd hopefully be back up and running or have insurance payments for your losses.
10. Protect Your Intellectual Property
One area businesses don't always think to protect fully is their intellectual property, yet many tech companies operate on ideas. If you create games, for example, do you have them copyrighted with the U.S. Library of Congress? Trademark your logo and your company tagline. However, even more than just registering your intellectual property, you have to protect it. If someone steals your name or idea, you have to go after them immediately through legal action.
Impact of Future Tech Trends
Technology changes so quickly that even tech-based companies can barely keep pace. If you want to keep your business secure as hackers become savvier and the Internet of Things (IoT) expands, you must constantly look for potential threats and take proactive measures to counteract them. With a little attention to detail, your operation will remain secure and continue growing over time.