Small business owners have a lot more challenges than many people know. Sure, being your own boss comes with a very special sense of freedom and accomplishment, but you also have concerns that no one else can share — especially if you’re new to entrepreneurialism. For instance, you probably have some critical questions to answer:
How can you keep your employees motivated and happy with fewer resources? How can you compete in the marketing world against big corporations with even bigger budgets? How can you protect your customer data from fraud and scams? Our guide will show you how.
Assess your risk
Just because you have never experienced a data breach doesn’t mean you aren’t at risk for one. And if you have had someone steal or corrupt your client data, you know the clean-up can be messy, no matter how large or small the breach. That’s why it’s so important you assess your risk — and not just once, but on a regular and frequent schedule. Some common threats include:
Recent layoffs. Have you had to let an employee or two go? Entrepreneur explains angry, upset or emotional former employees have a significantly higher risk of damaging customer data.
Unprotected technology. If you don’t prioritize security — meaning you use a shared server or do not encrypt your data — hackers have an easier time walking in through your digital front door.
Disorganization around data. If you aren’t sure what all kinds of information you have stored, then you won’t know what needs protecting.
Chances are you wear many hats as a business owner, and data security may not be a task you particularly enjoy or, quite frankly, feel competent handling. There’s no shame at all in admitting when you might be in over your head, and that is not a feeling you want to have when it comes to protecting your customer’s personal information, credit card data and shopping habits.
Before an email scam or other phishing attack results in damage to your data — and your reputation — consider hiring IT professionals to get your data security system set up. They can help you with both preventing an attack and recovering from one.
This is especially important for small businesses without an in-house IT department. Data recovery specialists can set you up on a dedicated server, install software to encrypt data, and teach you best practices to keep your customer files secure. One of the best ways to find qualified IT and security specialists is through an online job board like Upwork. You’ll be connected with top talent and can pay them an hourly rate or by the project.
Create a crisis response plan
Even with the best security measures in place, for some small businesses, a data breach isn’t a matter of if, but when. RockDove Solutions says putting a plan in place that outlines your policies and practices around managing a crisis can help you react more quickly and effectively in the event of a data breach. A strong response plan includes:
Communication with clients that is compassionate, confident and as transparent as possible.
Engaging stakeholders at all levels — from employees to vendors to customers — with a goal to inform and reassure.
A swift response from your technology team, whether that is your in-house IT crew or data security consultants, focused on repairing the damage and restoring integrity.
A written statement for the general public and media, which should be used if the breach is serious or widespread. You can actually send the response to local media as a press release if that level of communication is necessary, or simply plan to put it on the homepage of your website if that initiates better customer service.
In the wake of so many public data breaches in recent years, many small business owners have been asking more and more questions about data security and recovery — and rightfully so. Data protection is no longer a luxury that a business owner can sidestep. It’s crucial to the success of your customer service and your entire business.
About the Author:
Lindsay Weiss is the creator of Outbounding.com which connects organizations with publishers and webmasters who care about their vertical. She believes that to move your market, you must know your market. She loves writing articles on helping people build buzz around their brand and boosting their online presence.