Prepare Your Small Business for the Unexpected
Data disasters of any kind can devastate a small business. Whether your data trouble results from a fear of technology, outdated technology, data loss or data theft, it’s your responsibility to ensure the viability of the company through difficult times. There are plenty of safeguards that will, at the very least, give any small business a chance to survive despite these types of scenarios.
Back Up in the Cloud
Kenneth Lamy told the National Real Estate Investor in 2006 that he was extremely fortunate to still have his New Orleans-based consulting firm, the Lamy Group, after Hurricane Katrina released its wrath on the entire Gulf Coast a year earlier. But, it was more than just luck—his due diligence and preparation also should be credited for saving his company.
An LSU study found that 18 percent of brick-and-mortar businesses in Louisiana were completely destroyed or deemed uninhabitable in the storm’s aftermath. That means all their financial records, contracts, employee files and other important documents were gone along with the building. This is where Lamy overcame the storm because he backed up all of his files on an external hard drive. Having this information allowed his scattered employees to work remotely by email and phone.
Today, companies can learn from disasters like Hurricane Katrina, and back up their data with cloud storage. This way, all of your documents and data can be stored off-site on servers that are accessible from any device with Internet access. If you are worried about the cost or security of various cloud services, check out a review site like Top10CloudStorage to see which companies encrypt their data, provide file syncing and have low costs.
Companies that have been in business for a long time may find the task of digitizing thousands of documents far too daunting, but there are ways to deal with this issue. A typical document scanner with a 50-sheet feeder runs about $300 and are perfect for bigger jobs. There are even smartphone apps like CamScanner that allow you to snap photos of documents and convert them to PDF files that can be stored on external drives or in the cloud. Document Scanner, Droid Scan Pro, Turbo Scan and Genius Scan are some other options to consider.
Business owners who fail to acknowledge and embrace 21st century technology often end up getting squeezed by the competition. And yet, an astounding 53 percent of small businesses still do not have a website, according to a 2013 Ipsos/Google survey. Moreover, U.S. e-commerce sales accounted for 6.4 percent of all retail transactions in 2014, or about $58 billion, which is up from 2 percent in 2004.
If your company does not have a website, you need to create one as soon as possible, and make sure it is mobile optimized. More than half of U.S. Internet traffic comes from mobile devices, according to comScore, so you should check out free plugins like WPtouch that instantly optimize your website for mobile browsing.
There’s simply no reason for a business to go under due to data loss or Internet competition in 2014. It’s simply a matter of keeping abreast of technology trends to stay a few steps ahead of the curve.