You’ve worked hard to create a profitable business you’re proud of—but are you doing everything you can to protect it? This often overlooked part of running a business could mean the difference between success and failure for many business owners.
Think about it, your business is doing well, performing better than expected, but a tornado rips through your town, effectively wiping out your workspace, equipment, and most of your customers. So, where does that leave you if you haven’t taken steps to protect your business?
Or what if you’re cultivating an exciting new talent? Together, you’re creating some innovative products for your business, but your protege decides to leave—and take all your designs and intellectual property with them. How will you protect your company from this unthinkable theft if you haven’t padded your business with non-disclosure and non-compete contracts?
These are just two of the unlimited number of things that can happen to your business anytime. So it’s no wonder that half of all companies don’t even stay in business the past five years—too many things happened that they simply weren’t prepared for.
But you don’t have to be one of them. Because with the proper preparation, you can protect your business from almost anything.
#1: Get business insurance
Securing business insurance is the first and more important step to protecting your company. Business insurance helps mitigate the everyday operational risks faced by every enterprise. These policies are highly specialized and should be tailored to the needs of each company. Here are a few of the most common types of business insurance:
- General Liability Insurance: Every business, no matter what, should have a general liability policy. It is the bedrock of business insurance and will cover claims for everything from bodily injury to property damage, advertising harm, and even court fees. These catch-all policies can even protect your business from lawsuits for libel, slander, and defamation.
- Professional Liability & Errors and Omissions Insurance: If your business provides a professional service of any kind, you will need a professional liability policy. These policies cover errors and omissions you might make from time to time. No one is perfect, and you don’t have to be with this policy. Professional liability protects your company from business errors, missed deadlines, and accusations of negligence.
- Commercial Auto & Property Insurance: You must protect your workspace(s) from unforeseen disasters like floods and fires. And if you work at home, you’ll still need a commercial property policy to cover the contents of your home office. These policies will also cover costs when your equipment is damaged or stolen. The same goes for your work vehicle. Finally, you need to have a commercial auto policy to cover any accidents that occur when using it.
- Workers’ Compensation Insurance: Workers’ compensation is an essential type of policy designed to protect you and your employees. If someone gets hurt on the job, workers’ compensation will cover their medical expenses, lost wages, retraining, and more. Although not technically required in every state, getting workers’ compensation is integral to protecting your business, should the unthinkable occur.
Insurance is a critical and perhaps the most crucial part of protecting your business, but it’s only the beginning. You can do many more things to ensure your business is prepared for anything.
#2: Incorporate your company
A discussion about incorporating your business is a little misleading because incorporating your company protects your personal assets, not your business. Forming an LLC or incorporating separates your business assets from your personal ones.
Making your company its own legal entity is integral to your success because business and personal assets shouldn’t commingle. And the last thing you want to do is put your family home, vehicles, nest egg, or any other personal possessions at risk.
Forming a corporation or LLC creates a separate legal entity. And this legal entity can own property (physical or intellectual), initiate legal proceedings, and do almost anything an individual can do, just with less personal risk to the corporation’s owner.
#3: Create employee agreements
When you hire staff, what’s your onboarding process? Do your employees have to sign a confidentiality agreement or non-compete clause? If they don’t, then maybe they should!
These types of agreements really depend on your level of risk, the kinds of products and services you create, and the landscape of your competition. To find out if you need to use contracts like these, consult an attorney. They can help you decide what, if any, agreements you need to make with your employees and what those agreements should include.
#4: Apply for patents & trademarks
Whether you realize it or not, your business has intellectual property. Your branding is intellectual property, your website is intellectual property, and of course, anything you’ve designed and created from the ground up is your intellectual property, too. So protect these priceless assets with patents and trademarks.
If you’ve designed a unique product, chances are, you’ve already patented it. But, if you haven’t, now’s the time! Getting a patent ensures no other corporations or individuals can copy your designs and profit off something you’ve worked hard to create.
As for trademarks, they’re a little more nuanced. You can get a trademark, but it isn’t necessary for all businesses. Talk to your attorney before applying to make sure it’s something worthwhile for your company.
#5: Install an SSL plugin
SSL, or Secure Sockets Layer, is an important trust signal that demonstrates your website is a vetted, secure site that’s safe to visit. When you add an SSL plugin, your website is reviewed to ensure it’s not spam and owned by a real business.
This is something Google takes very seriously. If your site doesn’t have an SSL plugin, Google will warn visitors that your site isn’t secure and may compromise their data. Not very welcoming.
Getting an SSL plugin is also essential to conducting online transactions, as they encrypt data flowing between the user and the site. If you run eCommerce on your website, an SSL plugin is an absolute must.
Your business is facing more threats than ever before. Fortunately, there are a wide variety of tools available to protect your company from physical and digital harm. Evaluate your risk factors to see if you need to step up security for your business today!
Working as a cyber security solutions architect, Alisa focuses on application and network security. Before joining us she held a cyber security researcher positions within a variety of cyber security start-ups. She also experience in different industry domains like finance, healthcare and consumer products.