Business owners take on considerable risk long before a single customer ever walks through their front doors. Over time, the risk of failure builds up and can reach critical mass. The U.S. Small Business Association reports that only one in three small businesses survive 10 years, while only one in four make it to their fifteenth anniversary. You never know what lurks around the corner—a minor bullet or a major disaster—but one thing’s for sure: being prepared is your first defense.
Bad Reputation—Or No Reputation At All
How well your company provides customers with solutions and products may matter less than how well they were perceived. While word of mouth remains the absolute best marketing that money can (or can’t) buy, a study by the Harvard Business Review suggests that your best customers rarely represent your best marketers. Instead, the simple interactions with non-regulars and first-time customers often result in the most effective word-of-mouth. Promote superior service for new faces and clients, and encourage referrals from non-lifetime members.
Power And Lack Thereof
How many electrical devices does your business have plugged into a wall outlet at this very moment? Perhaps you have a violin repair shop and need only a ceiling lamp or maybe an e-commerce site that requires 10 different electronics running simultaneously to function. Whatever the amount of energy that your company uses, ensure that your digital files are not held in thrall to power surges, computer failure and lightning strikes with failsafes. A $10 surge protector will prevent a thousand-dollar computer from turning into a pile of warm slag, while a Mozy online backup service keeps a data error from gobbling up credit card numbers and inventory figures. Store files on a cloud platform instead of a hard drive to have access to them anywhere, at any time.
Your entire company’s security may rest on nothing more than a single word. The password serves as the digital lock and gatekeeper in an age of computing, but in an interview with Forbes, Kalki Consulting CEO Vikas Bhatia reminds small business owners that their password can be cracked in only 30 seconds if it could be found in the dictionary. Add a combination of upper-case and lower-case letters, numbers and characters into your password to give it extra strength against criminals.
A small business can’t stop the unpreventable, but they still suffer financially from it nevertheless. What would your company have done if it relied on a shipment or meeting from the Chicago airport during the first week of January, when BusinessWeek reported that the polar vortex of icy arctic air that spread down into the U.S. forced some 2,000 flight cancellations? Prevent damage from everything from floods to business interruption by buying specific insurance that covers against catastrophes like earthquakes and storms, or else you’ll be at the mercy of the elements in more ways than deciding what to wear.