The world is an uncertain place with challenges and risks lurking behind every hidden door and hiding out in each nook and cranny. When money is involved, the stakes are even higher. From a business perspective, this means you have to be prepared for anything and everything that could come your way.
The 3 Things You Don’t Want to Sink Your Business
Startups and growing businesses pay a lot of attention to business planning, marketing strategies, hiring and training talent, advertising, supply chain optimization, and other key elements like these. Unfortunately, it’s also pretty common for these businesses to overlook security and protection.
If you want your business to be built on a strong foundation that remains steady in the midst of external challenges and pressures, you’ll need to go ahead and develop strategies for how you’ll handle the following three issues:
1. Intellectual Property Theft
“When you are starting a new business it is important to get things right. That includes structuring the business, setting up contracts and drafting employment agreements,” attorney Michael P. Fleming advises.
While there are plenty of negative ramifications that stem from a failure to properly structure your business and flesh out contracts and agreements, one of the biggest risks is intellectual property (IP) theft.
IP protection is a complex topic that requires expert advice to get right, but one recommended strategy looks like this:
- Identify the different types of IP used in your business. (This may include copyrights, designs and patents, and/or trade secrets.)
- Assess the value of different IP to your business. In other words, which IP is most integral to your long-term business health.
- Decide which IP you want/need to protect. Depending on your financial situation, you may not have the means to protect everything right now.
- Act on the advice of your attorney and any market research that you’ve conducted to register your IP in the appropriate ways.
- Be the first to claim your IP. Waiting until your competitors have taken action will leave you exposed.
Never assume that you have the rights to something if you haven’t gone through the process of protecting it. You might be fine for months, or even years, but this will eventually come back to bite you.
One of the scariest things about running a business is that it opens you up to potential lawsuits and legal action. If someone is harmed or offended by something you do – or even if they just have the perception that they’re harmed or offended – they can quickly slap you with a lawsuit and force you to go through the complicated process of responding and/or resolving the case.
While you can’t prevent every lawsuit, there are some practical things you can do to protect your business. For starters, always have an attorney on standby.
“Owners should also attempt to secure an attorney that is familiar with local laws and customs in the area in which the business operates,” entrepreneur Glenn Curtis suggests. “Care should also be taken to retain an attorney with expertise in a particular field, if necessary.”
It’s also wise to separate yourself from your business and to get adequate insurance for the company. (Liability insurance is especially important.)
Finally, always watch what you say and do and remember that you’ll always be associated with the people and businesses you interact and partner with.
“You may not think it’s a problem working for a group of individuals who are known for shoddy business practices – because you know your company’s ethics are above reproach – but if they take a hit, your company’s name may be linked to them in the fallout,” Curtis Warns.
3. Data Breaches
In this day and age, you have to take cyber security seriously. Hackers and scammers don’t just target big businesses. They see small companies and startups as low hanging fruit and will attempt to pick off whatever they can.
Try to free up room in your budget to bring in a cybersecurity specialist. Pick their brain in regards to your biggest vulnerabilities and the top investments you should be making.
On the ground level, you and your employees need to be conscientious about how you’re handling and protecting data. Limit access to important resources and use multiple layers of security to avoid an easy breach.
Keep Your Business Safe
If you wait until there are signs of IP theft, a lawsuit, or a data breach, it’s probably too late. At this point, you’ve already been affected and will have to spend thousands and thousands of dollars just to save face. By preparing ahead of time, you can save time, money, and energy – and keep your business safe in the process.