Into every small business owner’s life, some rain must fall. But the key is to not let a few intermittent showers become a downpour. When something happens, whether it’s an employee issue, an operational problem or a technology disruption, it’s important to act immediately so the drip doesn’t turn into a flood.
Let’s look at a few issues that might arise at your small business and how you should deal with them.
Employees – As the cliché goes, one bad apple can indeed spoil the whole bunch. The same principle applies if you have unproductive employees on staff. Your hard-working employees are bound to resent these laggards, since they’re likely the ones picking up the slack—and they’re going to be angry with you if you don’t do something about it. Though it might seem trivial, an employee or two with bad attitudes can all too quickly turn into a massive office morale problem. It’s your responsibility to either weed out the negative employees or turn their attitudes around.
Safety and Security – Too many small business owners simply ignore security issues because they think their businesses are too small to be targeted by cyber-hackers. This can be a tragic misjudgment. Hackers and cyber thieves typically look for the weak link in the chain and small businesses that don’t safeguard their data are tempting targets. In fact, according to a 2015 survey from Endurance International Group, 31 percent of small businesses have already experienced an actual or attempted cyber attack. It is critical you create a cybersecurity plan, which should include:
- Limits on how much personal work can be done on work-issued computers and mobile devices
- A strictly enforced password policy
- Installation of top-flight security software on all computers, laptops and mobile devices
- An educated staff that’s on the lookout for security breaches
Employees can be your weakest internal link. It’s easy to lose a phone or laptop with crucial data on it. Make sure to change passwords every time an employee leaves, and that crucial data is stored in the cloud, where it’s harder to hack into and not likely to be lost instead of on computers and mobile devices.
Maintenance and Repairs – It’s easy to overlook the little things, such as a small leak in the roof, a drippy faucet in your restaurant or restrooms, a wobbly leg on a chair, a commercial vehicle with loose brakes or balding tires. All of these things, which can usually initially be fixed for a few hundred dollars or less, can end up costing you thousands. If you operate out of a physical location, you need to make sure your entryway is well lit and maintained, or a customer could fall and sue you. Create a maintenance checklist that you check at least quarterly to make sure everything is in good repair.
Insurance – Insurance is something business owners tend to worry about once—when they initially get the policy. Once received, they put it in a drawer and forget about it. Reviewing and, if necessary, updating your policy at least once a year is imperative. However, if your business is growing and you hire new employees, buy new equipment or open a new location, you should also update your insurance policies to make sure you are covered.
There are numerous areas you need to have coverage for, and they’ll vary depending on the industry you’re in and what state you’re located in, but one that’s often overlooked today is cyber-insurance. If you operate a virtual or home-based business, don’t make the mistake of thinking you’re covered by your standard homeowner’s policy—chances are you’re not.
Again, this may seem trivial considering all the complexities of running a business, but if something happens in your business, and you’re under-insured (which will happen if you’re growing and still have the same coverage you had prior to that expansion) or without insurance you could end up with a real catastrophe on your hands.