Your online business isn’t as tangible as a physical storefront, so knowing how to protect it from catastrophe can be different from standard business practices. Fortunately, there are some steps you can take to protect your assets from competitors, hackers, and poor decisions.
Statista experts predict online retail sales to grow to $4.8 trillion by 2021. However, more business also means more risk across the board. When it comes to keeping your company safe, you have many different aspects to consider. Here’s what you can do to protect your investment:
1. Train Your Employees
Invest in the people who work for you so they know how to keep their devices secure. You may have many remote workers. Inform them about the hazards of logging into public networks or leaving their laptops vulnerable to theft. Train your staff on what to do if they suspect a breach of information.
Your job is to keep your customers’ data safe. Unfortunately, inexperienced workers sometimes share passwords or other sensitive info with savvy hackers. The faster they communicate the error to you, the quicker you can fix the problem.
2. Protect Emails
One significant security vulnerability to your business is your email system. Hackers and unscrupulous competitors can access sensitive information through this platform. Malicious ex-employees or those wanting a list of your clients or suppliers may try to view your emails by hacking into your online system. They may also use physical avenues by accessing unattended computers or machines.
Use encryption for receiving and sending emails. Guard your sensitive data and give only a few people access. Change passwords frequently, including after an employee leaves or is terminated.
3. Invest in Insurance
Take out business insurance. Although you assume less risk selling online, there are still occasions where people may try to sue you. Perhaps a product you sold them caused an injury, or one of your employees gets hurt on the job. Anyone can file a lawsuit for any reason. It’s a good idea to take out insurance to protect your physical investment, plus an umbrella policy to cover you in case of a lawsuit or intangible damage to your brand.
4. Automate Backups
With an online business, much of what you do is digital. You probably store customer information in the cloud, control your inventory with a software solution and have a website that took months of work to create. One massive danger to your company is the risk of losing data. Imagine your entire website getting infected with a virus, causing you to have to start over. Perhaps your customer database is lost, and you can no longer send emails to past clients.
Invest in a cloud-based website and data backup systems. Ideally, your backups run on autopilot after business hours, backing up each day’s work so you always have the most current copies of your information.
5. Follow Regulations
You may wind up paying fines if you don’t protect user information the way you should. New regulations, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), set rules in place for better data protection. The GDPR insists you only collect and keep the data you need, create policies to protect data, and immediately inform consumers of breaches.
Although this is a European Union (EU) statute, the rule still applies to anyone doing business with citizens in EU countries. Check for additional laws in your area.
6. Update Your Software
One of the top things you can do for your security is to keep your technology up to date. Software providers put out patches for this reason — these solutions are often security-related. Update your systems at your earliest convenience to stay protected. You should also invest in antivirus software and malware protection. Run scans regularly to find any attack attempts and reset your files to an earlier date.
7. Secure Your Ideas
Your intellectual property, including articles or photographs, is copyrighted as soon as you create it. However, ideas are not protected by the Library of Congress. Anyone can steal the great ideas you’ve developed for reaching out to your customers or improving your marketing approach. They can even copy your unique business model without your permission.
The only way to stay ahead of idea thieves is by keeping new launches close to the vest until you release them into the world. Anyone who comes after you with an identical concept is copying you, and customers will note that. You should also consistently brainstorm new, cutting-edge ideas. Those who mimic others struggle to create their own approaches and can’t keep up with ongoing trends.
While you can’t keep everyone from copying your concepts, you can prevent them from taking your ideas before you’re ready to debut them.
8. Prepare for a Rainy Day
On top of securing your business from hackers and catastrophes, you need to prep for economic concerns as well. In times when you’re turning a good profit, save some of this money for the leaner periods. Even if there isn’t an economic downturn, you might run into an unexpected repair bill or contract an illness that forces you to be away from your business.
9. Protect Yourself From Lawsuits
No matter what type of business you run, unhappy customers have the potential to make your life miserable. Your first step when running a company should be to write out all your policies clearly and adhere to them. Next, hire a lawyer in your area of specialty and have them draw up a contract specifically geared to your business. You’ll avoid a lot of hassle if you get everything in writing.
10. Safeguard Your Investment
Your online business is an investment of your time and money. You typically expect economic downturns, negative customer reviews, and issues with suppliers. What you don’t expect is attacks on your information or intellectual property. Spend time securing your online company so you can avoid the pitfalls that come with growth. With a little extra effort and care, you’ll prevent some of the attacks and mistakes that cause other companies to fail.
About the Guest Author
Lexie is a digital nomad and web designer. She enjoys hiking with her goldendoodle and baking chocolate chip cookies. Check out her design blog, Design Roast, and connect with her on Twitter @lexieludesigner.