There are many advantages to having your own business. You get to work on your own terms, you manage your own resources, and you provide a service or product that you truly believe in. Those are just some of the more noteworthy examples of the benefits of being a business owner. However, it’s not all fun and games, especially if you have a sizeable amount of employees looking to you for their livelihood.
On top of keeping your business running as smoothly as you can, you must also take active steps to prevent certain situations from disrupting your operations. Otherwise, these threats will not only hamper your business’s ability to earn revenue, but also hinder its capacity to succeed and grow beyond what it currently is.
That said, here are some of the most common threats to businesses that you need to be aware of.
Data loss may not sound like an overtly serious threat to businesses, but when you consider how data has become so integral to the operations of modern businesses today, you can understand why data loss can prove to be such a serious problem for enterprises of all kinds.
Think about the files that you have on your work computer or laptop that pertain to customer service requests or product orders. How are you going to conduct business if such information is suddenly gone, with you having no way to recover it? Or how about your finance department suddenly losing the documents necessary to keep payroll going? You’re going to end up with a lot of unpaid employees who will not take very kindly to their paychecks being delayed, or not arriving at all.
This is where digital solutions that prevent data loss, such as high-availability data replication solutions, come in. By employing such solutions, you’ll be able to replicate entire databases, ensuring that you’ll always have access to your business-critical data no matter what happens. Whether the servers in your office break down, or there’s a disastrous fire or natural disaster that makes your workplace inaccessible, so long as you have solutions that can replicate your data to standby environments, you’ll be able to eliminate not only the possibility of downtime but also the other risks associated with data loss.
How do these solutions work? Well, depending on which particular software or vendor you go with, the method on how they protect you from data loss may be different. One solution may opt to replicate your data to a server of your own choosing, but in a location that’s entirely separate from your office. Another may store your data in a standby database that’s located in an entirely different region, or even in a different continent. Whichever the case, though, all such solutions will invariably ensure that the replicated database is just as updated and recent as your master database, so in the event that the latter is compromised and you need to recover your data, you have a direct copy of your original database. Data loss here is essentially eliminated.
Another common threat that many business owners often downplay or even underestimate are cyber attacks. Cyber attacks are essentially malicious activities that people known as cybercriminals use to try and infiltrate the computer and network systems of businesses. They leverage these attacks so that that they can either disrupt business operations or steal sensitive information from the company in order to monetize it. Obviously, either case can result in a significant period of downtime for the targeted business, which can end up in very heavy monetary losses as well.
The damage that cyberattacks inflict also extends to the reputation of the targeted business, especially among its customers and stakeholders. Being victimized by a cyber attack puts out the message that the business neglected taking the necessary steps to prevent against such a scenario, and as such, put itself at risk. This will be received much more harshly if it is revealed that the personal information of clients or customers has also been stolen by the cybercriminals behind the attack, essentially making these people victims as well. It’s no exaggeration to say that a cyber attack can cost business hundreds of thousands to even millions of dollars, both in terms of lost revenue and due to the legal backlash that they might face.
Preventing cyber attacks, thankfully, doesn’t have to be complicated. Businesses need to improve their security posture to be able to protect their network, their machines, and their staff. First, security solutions such as a computer program that can perform proper network segmentation, implement firewalls, and detect and block cyber attacks must be installed to protect the network and all the devices that use it. Secondly, employees must be trained in the safe use of computers and the internet as well, all while nurturing habits that promote such best practices in the workplace. By implementing these steps as a bare minimum, a business has a better chance of successfully protecting itself from cyber attacks.
Another common threat to businesses is property loss. This could occur due to damage from natural disasters, fires, or through criminal activities such as burglary, or vandalism. A property could be anything that the business relies upon to keep running from data servers and electronic office equipment to manufacturing machinery and the actual building in which employees work. Obviously, property loss can cause severe downtime to a business, especially smaller ones that may not have contingencies in place or may not have redundant equipment that they can rely upon should the worst case scenario actually happen.
Preventing property loss is mostly a matter of identifying both the most obvious and the less apparent risks in the workplace, and then taking the necessary steps to mitigate those risks. For example, if the business owner believes that their place of business is located in a neighborhood that’s a hotspot for crime and violence, then proactive measures should be put into place in order to prevent crime from affecting the business. CCTV cameras should be placed in entry and exit points of the building, for example, and security personnel should be hired and stationed outside and inside the building premises, as well.
What about natural disasters and fire accidents? The business owner must go back to their risk management plan and see whether or not their business operations are at the mercy of such unforeseen circumstances. If the office building is situated in a flood-prone area, for example, then the logical thing to do is to place vital equipment in the upper floors of the building, or at the very least, make sure that they can be moved to drier areas at a moment’s notice. As a basic fire safety measure, on the other hand, fire-fighting equipment such as fire extinguishers and emergency water hoses should also be easily accessible within the premises.
Insurance also plays a key role in mitigating property loss, but it’s more for helping the business quickly recover in the event of actual loss, rather than preventing it. Nevertheless, all businesses should look into getting their properties insured no matter their risk status, as sometimes, even the unexpected can happen.
Employees being injured in the workplace is also a very common threat that business owners need to address. After all, besides the fact that workplace injuries negatively impact productivity, a dangerous workplace isn’t something that many people would want to work in, in the first place. People getting hurt in the workplace, especially in one that should be a low-risk environment, reflects badly on the business and its owner. Furthermore, poor working conditions can also expose businesses to lawsuits.
Businesses can prevent workplace injuries by investing in solutions that make work safer for all employees. Besides ensuring that the workplace is furnished with protective tools and equipment, the employees themselves should be trained to conduct safety-conscious behavior at work, especially if their work involves the handling of dangerous substances or machinery. A health provider such as a doctor or a registered nurse should also be present within the premises at all times in order to properly deliver first aid in the event of an accident.
This threat involves diminishing customer demand for products or services that used to be the bread and butter for a business. In many cases, this can be considered a death knell to a business, as it essentially means that its customer base and revenues are drastically reduced as well.
Unlike the other threats listed in this article, however, paradigm shifts in market demand don’t happen all that often, nor does it happen overnight. However, it can happen to businesses that cater to very unique niche markets with very specific customer demands. Consider how video rental stores are no longer in business today because of the rise of digital video technology and streaming services.
Preventing market shifts from affecting your business is likely to be difficult, but it can be done. Doing so involves keeping a close watch on the market trends before making the big leap towards changing your business model to adapt to those changes.
Businesses can start by regularly taking note of what their competitors are doing if they’re adding something new to their products and services, or are changing them up entirely. They can also turn towards their customers for input and feedback, allowing them to suggest ways to make their products or services more relevant to current trends. Market research and stakeholder interviews can also be looked into for additional insights.
Deal with threats up front, or deal with the consequences
Keeping a business running smoothly doesn’t just involve making sure that the employees are working hard or that the paychecks are being signed on time. It also involves addressing the threats that could disrupt operations even before they could occur. Doing so allows business leaders to ensure that their business continues earning and growing for the foreseeable future, without them having to deal with the costly consequences of neglecting the very real dangers of the world at large.