a circle of paper men surrounded by hands that are protecting them

How to protect your small business

Posted on 7th June 2022 by

a circle of paper men surrounded by hands that are protecting them

Setting up a business is no small feat ‒ it takes time, money, patience, hard work and so much more. So when it comes to protecting your business, you’ll likely want to do anything in your power to prevent something from going wrong.

Below, you can find seven ways to protect your small business from a multitude of potential disasters, from data theft and water damage to falls and cyber security breaches.


1. Protect your data

Data is so important for your business, and you likely have a lot of it, from customer information to financial details and more. It’s your responsibility and duty to keep this data safe in order to comply with GDPR. This means sensitive data must be stored in a place where other employees cannot access it and you must keep backups.

Backing up data is the first step towards protecting it, so store it on the cloud or on a separate disk/hard drive away from the original copies. Keeping information on the cloud can be more beneficial, as you don’t need to worry about a hard drive crashing and accidentally erasing your data.

Should you use a certain type of software to store your data, such as a bookkeeping software for your accounting, you should keep it up to date. Developers usually publish software updates fairly often that can help to protect you from bugs and potential system threats that could allow hackers to access the information.


2. Have the right insurance

Business insurance is one of the best ways you can protect all aspects of your business, from your products and employees to the public and your own premises. So, what kind of insurance should you look to have in place?

Services such as public liability and professional indemnity insurance are essentials when it comes to protecting your business. The former covers the cost of any claims if a member of the public is injured or their possessions are accidently damaged during the course of your business activities. The latter is designed to financially protect you should a client make a negligence claim against you. In particular, it will protect you if a client claims they weren’t provided with the correct level of service or they were given misinformation.

You might also want insurance that will protect your products or your premises, in which case you can take out property or equipment insurance. Cyber insurance could help to protect you against loss of income if your business were to be hacked or a victim of data theft.

For businesses that have employees, employers’ liability insurance is a must as it protects you should a member of staff have an accident while at work or contract certain diseases that develop as a result of work.


3. Stay on top of your accounts

Keeping a really organised financial system could help in many situations. An employee may have a question about their pay or you could be faced with an unexpected lawsuit. Regardless of the situation, it’s important that your business’ financial accounts are up to date.

For physical paperwork, it’s a good idea to have organised filing cabinets that contain clear categories and labels. Alternatively, folders on shelves can work just as well. Each folder or file should clearly state what it contains, and you may wish to store these in alphabetical order. This means, should you need to find the GDPR file, it’s easily accessible.

For files that are stored on a computer, you could create a logical folder system to help you source what you need and always keep backups in a secondary location.


4. Have good digital security

Strong digital security is a necessity for any business to prevent hackers from accessing your systems. Cyber crime is on the up, but there are measures you can take to ensure your business isn’t a victim.

First, you should have some sort of firewall system in place. Firewalls work by scanning the data that is coming to and from your network. They are looking for malicious or suspicious code or potential bugs that could disrupt the system. If it does find something suspicious, the data will be flagged as a potential security risk and will be refused from entering the network.

Second, antivirus software is a must on all work computers. Viruses, including malware and ransomware, are either designed by hackers to steal your data or hold your data hostage, releasing it for a fee. It’s important that you have as much protection in place as possible to prevent this. Antivirus software will regularly scan your computer to ensure no viruses are present. If they are, the software can retain the virus and prevent it from accessing your whole computer.


5. Dispose of confidential documents correctly

Confidential documents should be disposed of in the correct way so they don’t fall into the wrong hands. It’s a simple way of protecting your business that could have a big impact.

To dispose of your documents in the proper way, you can shred them or use a company that takes the paper away for you. If this is the case, you should advise your staff of what to do with any documentation they have (for example, whether they can shred it themselves, whether they should put it in a locked bin, etc.).


6. Train staff in cyber security

Having a firewall and antivirus software is important, but these things can only protect so much of your business. Your staff is likely using the internet on a daily basis, and it’s easy to be baited into phishing scams or to accidentally download viruses.

To prevent this from happening, you should ensure your staff members are trained in good cyber security practices. This could involve training them not to click on suspicious links, to never give out personal information over the phone unless they’re sure they’re speaking to a reputable person/company, and to use strong passwords, changing them regularly.

While it may seem like common sense, it can be a good idea to train personnel in what a scam email looks like (does it come from a dodgy email address, does the email ask for personal/financial information, are there lots of spelling errors?).

You should also provide information on creating strong passwords that would be hard to guess. When creating passwords, you should advise them against using their own name and date of birth, and instead choose a more random mixture of numbers, letters and punctuation.


7. Carry out risk assessments

Risk assessments are important processes because they can help you to identify certain risks and how you could overcome them. These risks could be anything from an employee tripping over in the workplace to having hackers access your systems and requesting a ransom fee to get them back online. When you’re prepared for such events, the consequences can be reduced and your business can be up and running again more quickly.

You should first take the time to identify what the risks of your business are. These will be different for every company, and some types of businesses may have more risks than others. You should include natural disasters, such as storms and flooding, as well as cyber attacks, potential injuries from machinery or hazardous materials and manual handling accidents.