Business security covers a lot of ground, and it is important to have all your bases covered to minimize the chances of a catastrophic loss. Small businesses have a harder time than large businesses when it comes to recovering after cybercrime, fire, theft, and other disasters. Too often, a serious event like this will put a small business out of business.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) reports that forty percent of businesses that experience a serious disaster do not recover. The Small Business Association (SBA) cites even worse rates of failure, saying more than 90 percent of businesses go under within two years of a severe event.
Reliance on insurance payments or government disaster relief programs for recovering after a fire, theft, or similar event is not enough. Insurance awards often do not cover all costs, and some types of disasters – like a major data breach – may not be covered at all.
As in most things, prevention is the best cure. Here are four steps for comprehensively enhancing the security of your small business
Assess Your Security Risks
The security needs for each business differ. Some business have a higher risk of fire. Storefront businesses are at particular risk for smash-and-grab break-ins. If you have employees, their safety during a disaster becomes a top concern. All businesses are at risk for cybercrime, but online vulnerabilities vary from one business to the next.
Each area of risk must be assessed separately and thoroughly with consideration of the specific location and business type. Doing this requires an investment of time, asking questions, and talking to the right people. In the long run, the effort pays off by preventing a loss from occurring or minimizing the damage if something does happen.
Fortunately, there are a number of free security risk assessment tools available online for getting started with the process. This government sponsored website has extensive information on accessing the risk for all kinds of disasters including hurricanes, floods, cyberattacks, power outages, and hazardous materials incidents along with tools and resources for improving disaster preparedness.
A good starting point for understanding the cyber security needs of your business is by visiting the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) Small Biz Cyber Planner. This free guide provides advice on data security, scams, privacy issues, mobile device security, website and email security, and more. After entering information about your business, the site then generates a customized cybersecurity assessment for you.
Assessing the security risks at your business also involves an intensive examination of the physical premises to check for the adequacy of locks, burglar and fire alarms, security lighting, the need for security gates or shutters, and on-site cash security. Keys should be distributed carefully and a record long set up for monitoring who has keys.
Consult With Security Experts
Hiring a security consultant is one option for developing a comprehensive security plan for your business, and many such consultants are available. But gaining free information from experienced security professionals is also possible and desirable. If you do hire a consultant, the more you already know, the better you will be able to communicate with that person as you design your total business security plan.
Fire departments are usually happy to send a fire marshal to inspect a business location for fire safety concerns and identify ways of correcting any problems. An inspection by the fire marshal may also be required when you get a business license or remodel the site. These professionals are your allies in preventing fire, and working with them to comply with local fire regulations is one of the best ways of keeping a fire from happening in your business location.
Police departments also offer advice on preventing burglary, theft, robbery, and other crimes with location specific insight and information. Government agencies and non-profit organizations, like the Small Business Administration, FEMA, and the Department of Homeland Security also offer free information and resources for enhancing business security and disaster preparedness.
Security contractors are also knowledgeable resources who can help you evaluate your situation and present you with the most up-to-date equipment and software options for preventing break-ins, cybercrime, and fires along with an estimate for installation, maintenance, and upgrades.
Community disaster preparedness organizations, like the Certified Emergency Response Team (CERT), are another source of free information and training for handling emergencies and disasters of all kinds. Organizations like CERT also have networks of businesses, individuals, and organizations who plan in advance and work together in the event of emergencies and disasters.
Make a Comprehensive Security Plan
Once you have evaluated your security needs for your entire business, it is time to make a written security plan and a timeline for implementation. A comprehensive security plan should address the specific steps needed for installing or upgrading, as needed:
- Burglar alarms,
- Security gates,
- Security lighting,
- Fire, heat, and smoke detection systems,
- Automatic fire doors,
- Sprinkler systems,
- Locks on doors and windows,
- On-site cash security,
Besides looking at vulnerabilities in the business’s physical location, enhancing business security also involves having written documentation of regular business practices, personnel data, and supplier and contact information and backing-up this data so it can be accessed even if your regular business location is inaccessible.
Be sure to address these issues as well:
- Regular automated back-up of important business data on a Cloud storage or off-site computer.
- A plan for how your business would go on if your physical location was inaccessible for days, weeks, or months.
- A system for securely storing and then destroying old computer hard drives and paper records containing sensitive data.
The best time for researching sources of aid you may need in an emergency is before the emergency happens. Take some time to find out about possible locations where you could relocate temporarily, nearby storage facilities, community disaster relief organizations, and local police and fire departments.
Your business can also be affected by a disaster that happens to one of your suppliers. Think ahead about other ways you can source essential supplies in the event that one of your suppliers is unable to deliver due to an emergency at their end.
Implement Your Plan
The best plan in the world is no good at all if it isn’t put into action. Once you know what you need, establish a realistic timeline for implementing all of your security measures.
Installing burglar alarms, adequate door and window locks, sprinklers, security gates, fire doors, and other security equipment is basic to security at most businesses.
Make sure your business address is clearly marked outside, so emergency personnel can find your location quickly.
Move backup computers to off-site locations where they will survive the worst event. Make contact with business suppliers and create networks for working together in the event of personal or community disasters.
Involve everyone in your business in your security plan. Train employees thoroughly in security procedures and policies and have periodic reviews and methods for updating everyone when there are changes.
When a disaster of any kind happens to a business, whether it is a fire, theft, robbery, or even a flood, there is a physical and emotional impact on everyone connected to the business, including customers.
By planning and preparing in advance, you can minimize the emotional, financial, and logistical impacts of a catastrophic event at your business. By installing the right security equipment, you will make the possibility of such a disaster much more remote.
Are you looking to protect your New York based business? Get in touch with New York Gates. We provide a whole range of gate and security products.