Small businesses are the powerhouses of the UK economy. Accounting for 99.9% of the business population, SMEs employ three fifths of all employed adults and contribute to 52% of all turnover – around £2.3 trillion.

If you own a small business you’ll know that at times it can be challenging. Not only are you responsible for any employees, but you’ll likely have to take on several roles – at once. From being an accountant, marketing manager, face of customer service, product developer and much more. But whatever roles you take on, perhaps the most important one is ensuring your business is secure – in both the physical and cyber world.

The challenges of running a small business

Sadly, startups have a high failure rate, with 20% of small businesses failing in their first year and around 60% will go bust within their first three years. However, if you’re aware of some of the biggest challenges of running a small business, you can help mitigate the risks and help keep your business secure for long-term success.

  1. Dependence on small number of clients: Many businesses rely on a small number of clients to keep their business afloat. Therefore, diversifying your client base is vital to the success and growth of your business.This will ensure you’re not reliant on a handful of clients and that if they take their business elsewhere it won’t have a detrimental impact on your business.
  2. Dependence on the founder: When setting up a small business it’s important that it can still function without you. Founder dependence is often caused by the founder not relinquishing decision making power. It’s important that as a founder you build trust in your employees and are confident in asking for help.
  3. Balancing growth and quality: In order for a business to grow, there will be a compromise on quality at some point. It’s important to understand where that compromise can be without it being detrimental to the overall product or service the business offers.

Why security is important

Not only is security important for businesses on a practical level – i.e. ensuring their products or services are secure from theft, whether it’s physical goods or intellectual property, but if a company encounters a security breach it can be bad for business. Meaning clients may take their business elsewhere.

No matter the size or scale of your business, there are three major areas where security is paramount: staff safety, asset security, and data protection and other valuable information.

Types of security to consider

Physical security: Ensuring your property is secure is the easiest way to ensure physical security. From investing in surveillance cameras to installing keypad locks on all doors, insist staff clock-in and clock-out, to setting alarms when the property is empty. Not only will physical security protocols help deter potential threats, but they will give your staff and customers peace of mind that your business is secure.

In the long-run physical security helps prevent the loss of property (and potentially loss of life), as well as loss of valuable time, money and information.

Physical security also extends to your employees too. Ensuring they are adequately trained and are given necessary items to enhance their security. Whether it’s swipe cards to access a building or PPE, it’s up to you to ensure they’re kept safe.

Data security: Businesses are relying more and more on the internet;however, it comes at a cost. It’s estimated that UK businesses encounter around 149 million hours of internet downtime per year, at a cost of £12.3 billion in lost productivity. If your business relies heavily on the internet, the cloud, and various other cyber programs, it’s crucial that you have a secure internet connection and that your business assets are protected both online and offline. One of the biggest threats any business now faces is the potential theft or breach of data. It’s vital that businesses adopt different techniques to enhance data protection. Using password keepers and protectors, as well as random password generators can all help decrease the chance of a breach.

Installing a firewall is an essential first step in ensuring data security. Alongside firewalls, installing an antivirus program onto your servers can help prevent potential viruses.

Cyber and physical security are absolutely essential for a small business to function. The cost of security threats and incidents can be damning for small businesses that don’t have the financial reserves and manpower of larger companies. Keeping stock, staff and customers secure must be a fundamental part of your business plan, and contingencies should be drawn up so you can quickly react to ongoing situations. A lot of responsibility falls on the owner or director of a small business, so delegating tasks and roles can be a good way to boost security across the operation.