Happy Halloween! Look Out! (for These Scary Small Business Tech Problems)
It’s that time of year again. Even if the chill isn’t quite yet in the air, we still feel it up our spines as jack-o-lanterns make their first appearances on neighborhood doorsteps and scary movies play on television and movie screens. So in the spirit of these ghosts and ghouls that come to haunt us on and in the leadup to All Hallow’s Eve, today we present three truly scary small business tech problems that your business may face this time of year (or any other) and the preventions or solutions of how to solve them.
These solutions are neither as gory nor as elegant as a stake through the heart or Dwight Schrute’s favorite zombie remedy but they will do the trick in keeping your company safe from digital goblins and other more physical foes. But beware… though planning ahead may not feel like a treat, it is far preferable to the terror that awaits those who fail to heed my warning. Read on if you dare…
Scary Small Business Tech Problem 1: System Failure with Complete Data Loss
That feeling you get when you realize you deleted an email draft instead of saving it – dread, anger, frustration, maybe panic. Multiply that by about 10,000 and you get the feeling of a full system failure.
Whether it’s telephone systems, servers, or computer network system failures are frustrating, time-consuming, and costly. Luckily you had a backup, right? ….
Starting from scratch is time-consuming and completely avoidable. When you have a shared network at your company, you should always have a backup ready. The same is true of a telephone system. No one wants to lose every saved email or voicemail. And if you back them up regularly you don’t have to. Data loss, even in a complete system failure will be minimal.
Many systems come with backup options for your equipment and there are also cloud and other third-party products that specialize in particular varieties of backup. Just make sure you speak to your trusted IT or business technology advisor before making any decisions. Typically, a good company will handle this as part of your IT service contract.
Scary Small Business Tech Problem 2: Shrinkage
Not all problems are as intangible as data loss. Some losses are very real. In this case, I’m talking about shrinkage. And I am not talking about George Costanza.
If you’re in retail, you know what I mean. For the uninitiated shrinkage refers to product loss. According to the Corporate Financial Institute‘s definition, shrinkage can come from “clerical errors, goods being damaged or lost, or theft from the point of purchase from a supplier to the point of sale.”
Shrinkage is a fact of life in retail. Preventing and minimizing it is the name of the game.
The best way to reduce shrinkage is vigilance. And the two ways you can use technology for vigilance are record keeping and surveillance.
There are a lot of inventory software solutions out there and there are probably even some specifically designed for your line of work. But regardless of what software you are using, you need to make sure you have the hardware in which it’s housed in good condition. For that, a maintenance contract goes a long way.
When it comes to surveillance, the solutions are as varied as businesses are. The most important thing is that you have a camera with a good quality picture and a storage solution that will last an adequate amount of time. Storage time varies by business and how often you check your inventory. In general, you will want to make sure you have enough time to notice that something is gone so that you can check for it in your video footage. You also want to make sure that you have the store divided into small enough areas so that you can clearly see a specific area of inventory and watch for moving footage in that space.
Again, the right contractor is crucial. Look for a good technology company with an up-to-date DCJS license – a legal necessity for operating in Virginia.
Scary Small Business Tech Problem 3: A Hacker
And perhaps the greatest small business tech problem a business can experience – a hack!
Hacks can take many forms. You can lose money, client information, or proprietary secrets. One of the biggest things you lose is credibility, a hard commodity to come by.
There are many ways to be hacked. One of the most common is phishing which we’ve gone into in detail in a previous blog post. Phishing occurs when someone posing as a legitimate company gets someone to voluntarily give them information such as a password that allows access to company assets.
Again, vigilance is key here. Making sure that employees know to not click on links claiming to be from a bank or anywhere else that asks for a password helps.
Having good password policies also help. Passwords should have minimum levels of complexity and should be changed every few months.
Not what a good network security policy would look like? Again, this is the place to speak to your trusted IT professional.
We hope these tales of Small Business Terror weren’t too chilling for you. Remember, when you’re well-prepared there is little to fear. But when you leave it to chance your small business may very well experience a truly scary tech problem.
Mwahahahahahaahaha! Happy Halloween!