Your small business is what you rely on to pay the bills. As a result, it just takes one disaster to send your business and personal world into a nightmare.

For many small business owners, their company’s computer data is the backbone of their existence. Without it, not only would it be hard to run a business, but customers would feel like they were dealing with a company doing business in the 1960’s. Face it; keeping your customers’ data on computers is essential in today’s tech-driven world.

With that in mind, what steps have you taken to lessen the odds of having a computer disaster turn your small business world upside down?

Being Proactive Better Than Being Reactive

So that your company can be proactive and not reactive to potential data protection issues, make sure you are doing the following:

  1. Storage – Storing all your company data (including that of customers) in one location is a recipe for disaster. Be sure to have a backup plan in place, allowing you to access said data in the event of a loss. Much like you should never put all your financial investment eggs in one basket, it is important to not leave your data a sitting duck in one central place;
  2. Server – Always put the required time and effort into making sure your server provider can be counted on for security. The last thing you want or need is your server provider telling you that there was a security breach on their end, leaving your company data exposed. When vetting server providers, listen intently into how much emphasis they place on server security;
  3. Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery (BCDR) – Given the importance data security should have in your place of business, having a disaster recovery plan in place is critical. Stop for a moment and think about where your small business could be if you suddenly lost most or all of your customer data. Would you be able to move forward? Would many customers leave you in mass droves? Don’t take that chance by being unprepared. Having a continuous flow of data (data that is safe and secure) keeps your business humming, so don’t tempt fate;
  4. Employee security – If you’re a small business with employees, you know how important they are to your company. That said it just takes one of them to cause an uproar, an uproar that could prove very detrimental to your business. Such a case would be when an employee (current or one that recently left the company and still has computer log-in info) decides to essentially go into business for themselves. This could be whereby they steal company information, specifically that of one or more of your customers. They could in turn use that info to their financial benefit, putting you in an awkward position with a customer or customers. Three thoughts here that you should always adhere to…. First, make sure that you change username/password combinations whenever an employee leaves your company. If you have been outsourcing work to an employee who is technically an independent contractor, the same practice holds true. Secondly, make sure to educate employees on the importance of not sharing username/passwords in and out of the office. Lastly, make it clear as can be that any employees caught trying to use customer or company data for their own financial gain not only stand the chance of losing their jobs, but could face charges by law enforcement;
  5. Customer response – In the event your company’s data is breached, it is crucial that you alert those impacted by such an event immediately. Let customers know what you are doing to fix the problem. Also assure them that this will not happen again, thereby lessening the chances of them deciding to leave you for a competitor.

When it comes to data security for your small business, don’t be on the outside looking in.

Take any threats seriously, make sure your employees know the rules and regulations when it comes to dealing with customer data, and do all you can to keep your data and that of your customers as safe as possible.

About the Author: Dave Thomas covers small business topics on the web.