One month ago to the day, my boyfriend and I had our home broken into. Clearly being watched, we were robbed in a matter of 5 minutes when we took our puppies out for their evening pee break. 5 minutes was all it took for me to learn some incredibly valuable lessons as a small business owner.
The thieves were very efficient in that they took my laptop, iPhone, iPad, and wallet – that’s it. Everything I needed to run my business was taken in the blink of an eye. And thank goodness that’s all. After all, it was just stuff that could be replaced or have fraud protection put on it. The most valuable thing that was given to me – LESSONS ON RUNNING A BUSINESS!
Protect Your Small Business Before It’s Too Late
1) Backup your computer
I was so lucky in that I religiously backed up my computer on an external hard drive. I am convinced that this saved my business, especially in the amount of downtime my business went through. Because I had backed up all my work, spreadsheets, pictures, templates, everything, I was able to upload all my files the very next day onto a new laptop. If I hadn’t been backing up externally, I can honestly say that I’m sure I would still be trying to recover my work…and most likely clients.
2) Backup your files in the Cloud – or some other offsite storage
While I was fortunate that the thieves did not take my external hard drive, the question lingered, “what if they had?” and “what if there was a fire?” Having an external hard drive is useless if you don’t have access to it. I promptly reached out to a company who specializes in helping small and medium sized businesses with backing up all work, software, etc. offsite and in the Cloud. The company I used, Perpetual West, went through the various options that would work for me and the size of my company and quickly helped me start backing up my company in the Cloud. I now know that I can access my work from anywhere, and that even if my computer and external hard drive are destroyed or taken, I still have my company files covered.
3) Have control of your own website domain
While I have one of the most trustworthy and moral individuals hosting my website, I recognized that I didn’t actually own my domain. As a business owner, one of the most important things you must do is make sure that you, and you alone, own your website’s domain. While the robbery didn’t affect my website, it certainly opened my eyes as to where I was “failing” as a business owner and where I should be looking to take control. The individual hosting (and who owned my domain) more than understood where I was coming from and helped me to take control and buy my domain from him, putting the control of a crucial part of my company back into my hands.
4) Streamline your processes
Again, while the robbery didn’t really affect my processes, it made me take a step back and look at my company as a whole. What processes needed to be streamlined – what does my proposal process look like, writing process, invoicing, collections process, absolutely all areas of my company were analyzed and I have started putting proper systems in place that best serve not just my customers, but my business as well. I’m better able to quote, give realistic timelines, and provide a clear understanding of what will be involved on each of my projects.
The day I spent uploading all my old work from my external hard drive was a day of realization on how to become a more effective and efficient business in terms of STREAMLINING!
5) Always have an Emergency Response Plan
The above 4 points all lead to this fifth one – develop emergency response plans for any occurrence that can hurt your business, whether it be theft, fire, flood, and so forth. Again, I was so lucky that my boyfriend had both his phone and wallet on him. He SAVED my sanity by helping me quickly purchase a new phone and laptop so I could get my business up and running the next day. But, what if he didn’t have his items on him and they were also stolen, or what if he was unable to help me? Relying on other people is not a response plan. Having your business backed up in multiple places, being able to access your email, contact your clients, and let them know what is happening with your company is crucial to surviving any “disaster”. In any emergency, so long as you are able to quickly communicate with, and manage the expectations of your clients, than you will be able to move from reaction mode into proactive mode and get back to business as usual…or better!
While being robbed really wasn’t the most fun experience of my life, it was certainly filled with lessons that I am grateful for and have made me not just a better business owner, but a more confident business owner who is in more control of my business. I ask you all to look at your companies and ask yourself, “Where am I vulnerable and how can I rectify this?” Doing this will open your eyes and save you from unexpected hiccups in your business growth.