In a world with heavy competition, cyber threats, and lawsuits, keeping your business safe isn’t optional. You need to develop specific layers of defense to insulate your company from the dangers of the outside world. Do you have a plan?
5 Ways to Protect Your Business
It’s rarely helpful or constructive for a business owner to walk around on eggshells, but there’s something to be said for being realistic and recognizing the threats that exist in and around your business. In doing so, you can protect your business and spend more energy focusing on the tasks and challenges that matter. In particular, you should focus on the following:
- Establish the Right Legal Structure
When starting a business, you need to consider what sort of legal structure or entity you want to use. This will determine how you’re taxed and what sort of protection you have (as the business owner). The most common forms of legal structures for small businesses are sole proprietorships, partnerships, corporations, S corporations, and limited liability companies (LLCs). In many cases, the latter are preferred.
“LLCs are designed to be simple and inexpensive to setup, and are easy to run,” Incfile explains. “They have many of the advantages of larger businesses and corporations without all of the rules, regulations and legal compliance commonly found with other business entities. LLCs are registered with the government in your state.”
Spend some time researching the different options you have. While an LLC is often the best choice, you may also find a partnership useful if there are more than one founder. The more you educate yourself on the ins and outs, the more satisfied you’ll ultimately be.
- Hire an Attorney
“Business owners should interview attorneys when they first start up, in order to have a standby legal contact,” entrepreneur Brian Beers writes. “You may need this person to advise you before you act or on how to react when you’ve been sued.”
The key word here is “standby.” Unless you anticipate some major legal battles in the immediate future, you don’t need to hire an attorney full-time (or even put one on retainer). You just need to know that you have someone on speed dial.
- Trademark Unique Assets
When you’re small, you don’t have to worry about competitors. But as you grow, you’ll find that other businesses and entrepreneurs put you in their crosshairs. In order to defend what you’ve created, you must develop a plan for protecting your intellectual property (IP).
From logos and business names to proprietary products and processes, you need to think about everything. Look into copyrights, trademarks, and patents. You should also be sure to develop robust and comprehensive contracts any time you work with contractors, partners, or businesses.
- Be Specific With Branding
Branding is important on many levels. Not only does it help you carve out a niche and connect with customers, but it can also protect you on a legal front. By being more specific with logos, slogans, designs, packaging, etc., you can set a strong legal precedent for your business. This makes it harder for a competitor to come in and steal an idea without legal recourse.
- Establish Good Data Security Policies
You might assume that most cyber attacks are targeted at large corporations, but the data says otherwise. More than half of all attacks are on companies with less than 250 employees. And the costs of these attacks are enough to put most small companies out of business.
In order to protect your business in a hostile cyber environment, develop comprehensive data security policies and ensure everyone – including employees – abide by the rules.
Take a Proactive Approach
When it comes to protecting your business, a reactive strategy will get you in trouble. The more proactive you can be, the stronger and safer your business will be in the present and future.
This article provides you with some of the general steps you should be taking towards safeguarding your company, but every business is unique. Make sure you account for any issues or details that are specific to your industry and/or situation. By tailoring your approach towards your individual needs, you can ensure nothing slips through the cracks.