According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of people primarily working from home tripled between 2019 and 2021. That is 27.6 million Americans. Don't think that hackers haven't noticed this, and don't think that you don't have anything to protect. Your home business is more at risk then you probably imagine, but it doesn't have to be that way. Here are 5 steps to make it more secure and ensure that your hard work doesn't get lost or stolen.
1. Strong Internet Security
This probably seems obvious, but what does it actually mean? If you have a home business, the standard security that comes with your laptop is probably not enough. You have more to protect, so you should think more about how you are going to protect it. If a hacker can access your system, then they can access your clients lists and probably your financial accounts as well. See our blogs on passwords, intrusion detection, phishing, malware, and ransomware for more information. Each one of these is complex enough that whole businesses have grown to address just one of them. If you spend a day attending to these, that is time well spent!
2. Abstract your personal information
By "Abstract", I mean that you should hide obscure your personal information by using a third party. If you have a domain, you should not list yourself or your home address as the primary contact. For just a few dollars a year, you can have an agent listed as the contact. Likewise, if you are running your own business from home, your home address and phone number should not be the address and phone number of your business. It doesn't cost much to have a P.O. box or professional business address, and it keeps people from showing up on your doorstep. This is especially important if you have children at home. If you don't have a separate business data line, you should also hide your home IP while you are on the web by using a VPN service so that your Home IP is not logged when you access sites.
4. Business Continuity Plan
This is one area that many home and small business owners never think about. What happens to your business if you lose power or internet? What are you going to do? Will your business keep running? We recently went through Hurricane Ian and had no power for 9 days and no internet for almost 3 weeks. For power, we had standby generators that we could use to charge our laptops. For internet, we had a Starlink satellite system standing by. It was slower than our normal hardline, but we stayed current with our business. Our main website is hosted on Microsoft Azure with geographic failover so we are never offline. Have you thought about all of this?
Also, if something happened to you, do others know how to continue your business? Do they have the information they need? Do they know, or have access to your login credentials for your domain, your web site, your bank accounts? For larger companies this is usually not as much of an issue. If something happens to one person, enough other people know what is going on that they can keep things going. For smaller sole proprietorships, this is usually not the case. It is important that the right people have access to all of the company information when they need it.
5. Have right kind of Business Insurance
Insurance is a whole topic by itself, but you should definitely think of your business like a person. What insurance do you need? You probably should have some sort of liability insurance, some sort of business continuity insurance if you are depending on your business as your primary source of income, and some sort of key personnel insurance if most of your business depends on just one or two individuals. This is one of those time that you really need to speak with a professional insurance agent that understand small businesses and what they need, which leads us to...
6. Hire the right kind of professionals
As a small business owner, you are probably used to being a jack of all trades and doing many of things your business needs by yourself, but you need to also be aware of your limitations. There are some things on which you really need to consult with a professional. Anything dealing with Law, Taxes, or Insurance, it is worth consulting with a professional. It may seem like an unnecessary expense now, but if any event happens that you haven't prepared for, you will be happy that you had a professional prepare your company.
Small, home run companies are where every large company started. There are always some risks that a small company will accept, but it is worthwhile to review where you stand every year and evaluate if you need to up your game in certain areas. You can do a lot of it on your own, but there are also times when a professional is a must.
iIf you are reading this then you probably have a small, home business, and to that I say "Congratulations!" I, and everyone here at IronClad Family wishes you the best of luck and best prosperity. It is challenging, but rewarding, work. Let's make sure that all of your work is protected, and you continue to be successful long into the future.