Being a small business owner means wearing many hats, hats that sometimes seem like they don’t fit.

In order to keep your small business financially sound and always moving forward, you have to make a number of sound decisions.

Among those sound decisions:

  • Growing your business at the right speed;
  • Properly managing your different budgets;
  • Providing stellar customer service;
  • Hiring the best talent out there;
  • Protecting your business from hackers.

That last detail is as important as the others, yet many folks running smaller companies will overlook it, figuring their brand is not a target for identity theft thieves. With that being the case, some small business owners set themselves up to potentially lose everything.

So that your small business can sidestep hackers, keep these tips in mind:

  1. Basics – First and foremost, make sure you and your employees (including any independent contractors working with you) protect your log-in information when accessing your site. Once a hacker gets access to such information, they can do untold damage, potentially hurting or even crippling your business financially. Small businesses that have a password manager can navigate the business world much easier, allowing them one less area of being susceptible to identity theft thieves. Make sure any in-house staff you have keeps company log-in details to themselves, with the same holding true for those you are outsourcing any work to. Lastly, log-in information should be hard for hackers to crack, meaning that you make usernames and passwords more than just JohnDoe and business123;
  2. Socializing – More small businesses are learning just how effective social media can be in publicizing their brands. With that the case, hackers (along with personal property thieves) have also become more inclined to target a company’s social networks, looking to discover any pertinent information that will make their jobs of stealing easier. It is important that you and/or your employees do not share personal company details on social sites like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram etc. Two examples would be – An employee tweets out to a friend who wants to stop by the office after hours that the business leaves the back door unlocked after 5 p.m. Someone with ill intent gets that information and can now target the physical location of the business. Another case would be when two employees share company secrets (technology) on their Facebook pages. Once a hacker gets wind of this, he or she has an easier time getting through to your company’s computer system. The same can be said for when applicants apply for positions with your small business. A hacker sends you material when looking for work with your business, only it turns out they’ve linked to a bogus social site. You or someone in your office clicks on the link, hereby exposing your computer system to malware. Always go with the assumption that your small business is a target for hackers, even if in most cases it is not;
  3. Hosts – When using a web hosting service, make sure they place a high priority on Internet security. They should do regular reviews of their servers, looking for any signs of planted malware and other such viruses. It just takes a hacker one successful hit to cause major problems for you and your brand;
  4. Response – If your small business is unfortunately hit by a hacker, how you respond to your customers is of the utmost importance. A quick and thorough response will likely keep most customers on your side and wanting to continue doing business with you. On the other hand, a slow and half-hearted response will leave many if not all customers wondering just how important they and their money truly are to you. While your goal with identity theft and other attacks against your brand should always be pro-active and not reactive, how you do the latter truly does tell a lot about you and your small business;
  5. Technology – It is important to remember that hackers are always staying up to speed on the latest technology, so you and your small business must do so too. Being a step ahead of those looking to cause you and your brand harm means testing your security procedures on a regular basis, looking for any cracks in your technology’s armor.

In running a small business in 2016 and beyond, there are many ways your brand can get attention.

One of the ways not to do this is by having identity theft thieves and other criminals giving your small business and your customers the wrong kind of attention.