How to Keep Your Growing Store Secure
You’re getting ready to move your retail business from a sole employee business (aka you) to a medium-sized business with other employees. This is essential to your small business’ life cycle if you want to be profitable and expand. However, you also have to know how to keep your business safe during this transition. Consider the following tips:
Do a SWOT Analysis
Before you begin the expansion process, do an analysis on your store’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT). The SWOT analysis is a planning tool that helps you find your best direction of expansion while identifying and hedging against risk. The strengths of your company and the opportunities that it can explore will point you to the best path of growth while your weaknesses and threats will show areas of risk that you need to protect against.
If you decide to expand your business into the e-commerce industry, you will enter the global market. This will bring a lot of new attention to your business, some of which you may not be prepared for. Some of the new markets you’re trying to reach will embrace change while others will push back. For a small retailer, this negative attention can be surprising and potentially detrimental, so you need to have a plan before you launch. Do a few test runs in smaller community markets and measure the results. Advertise using Facebook or Google in a small geographic area to see how your target market reacts. If your test runs go well, then expand from there. If they don’t, assess the problem, make necessary changes and try again.
Watch Your Data
As part of your threat assessment, look for the places where your personal and company information may be vulnerable. If your small retail business is home-based, your laptop most likely holds all of your customer information and is a target for business espionage and criminal hacking.
To keep your data safe, use a two-fold strategy. First, use strong security software and keep it up to date. F-Secure is one of the best security software programs for you to try. Second, make sure to monitor your digital presence with a company like LifeLock so you are aware of breaches before they become a danger to your business. If you find an anomaly, address it immediately with a cyber security company or law enforcement.
Think of Your Employees
To be able to expand your business, you need to hire employees who can work on your behalf and open up the opportunity for you to explore and sell to new markets. Unfortunately, employees also come with built-in risks.
On the malicious side, employees have the greatest opportunity to steal products, inventory and clientele. They also become the face of your company, which means an angry employee can crash your marketing efforts. To mitigate some of the risks, communicate frequently and honestly with your employees and set up store cameras to monitor any suspicious activity.
One of the more benign, but just as costly, risks associated with employees has to do with taxes. The IRS and federal labor laws have strict standards on employee hours, pay and tax reporting. You need to know how to follow these standards so you don’t get hit with fines or a lawsuit. Consult with an accountant to do employee payroll and taxes properly.
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