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Running a business is a challenge and often, staying above water means navigating rough waters and swerving icebergs. If you own a company, here are some essential steps to take to reduce risks and keep your business safe. 

Protecting your reputation

Protecting your reputation has never been more crucial. The growing popularity of online reviews means that all businesses are vulnerable. A negative review can put prospective customers off, drive buyers towards competitors and damage your reputation. More than 80% of consumers now trust online reviews as much as recommendations from friends and over 90% of people read reviews before buying online. 

It may not be possible to please every single customer but there are several steps you can take to protect your reputation and generate positive feedback. One of the most effective is to invest time and effort in improving customer service. Make sure you make promises you can deliver on, provide customer service and support options for your clients and communicate with them. Use social media and personalized emails to build relationships and encourage interaction and use reviews to improve the service you provide. Listen to comments and feedback and use ideas and suggestions. 

There may be times when you are unable to fulfil orders or provide a service on time. As a business owner, it’s always beneficial to be open with your customers and to explain what is happening and how you’re going to resolve the problem. If there is a delay with an order, for example, get in touch with your client, let them know the reason for the disruption and offer compensation. It’s much better to give advance warning than for a customer to be sat at home waiting for a delivery that won’t appear. Letting people down will increase the risk of negative feedback. 

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Investing in insurance

Managing a company involves negotiating risks and hazards continuously. There is always a threat of things going wrong or unexpected spanners in the works. The pandemic is an excellent example of an unprecedented situation, which can impact even the most established and profitable businesses. It is not possible to prevent every business disaster or avoid every scenario that carries risks but investing in insurance provides protection and peace of mind. 

A business owners policy is designed to offer protection against a range of threats and hazards that have the potential to derail your business or cause significant losses. From damage caused by adverse weather and theft to cybercrime and public liability cases, it’s essential to ensure that you have the relevant insurance. Before you take out a new policy or automatically renew an existing plan, research options and compare prices and policies. It’s best to invest in the most comprehensive policy you can afford. 

Some businesses face unique risks due to the industries in which they operate. If you have specific requirements, search for insurance providers that specialize in offering policies for companies within your sector. 

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Understanding cybercrime risks

Cybercrime is one of the most potent threats to business owners. Forbes estimates that by the end of 2021, the global cost of cybercrime will exceed $6 trillion. We often read headlines about major breaches that target international corporations or high-profile government agencies or departments but every company is a target. In fact, statistics show that over 40% of cyberattacks involve small businesses, with incidents costing an average of $200,000. For small firms, cyberattacks and data breaches have the potential to put them out of business. There are financial losses to consider but crucially, cybercrime can also impact reputation. People want to buy from businesses they can trust. If your defenses are weak, and you’ve been hacked before, customers may decide to opt for a competitor with a better track record. 

If you are worried about data breaches or the cost of downtime, it’s beneficial to look into ways to strengthen your defenses and reduce the risk of attacks. If you don’t have an in-house IT department, you can outsource IT support and cybersecurity. IT firms offer packages for small businesses and they can recommend changes and policies to improve security. This may involve using tools and software, encouraging employees to change passwords frequently and providing cybersecurity training, for example. 

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Drawing up contingency plans

Every business owner knows that life isn’t always plain sailing. Even if your profits are soaring, your employees are happy and your customers are leaving 5-star reviews, unexpected obstacles, hazards or bumps in the road can change everything. As nobody knows what is around the corner, it’s essential for company owners and aspiring entrepreneurs to have contingency plans in place. Whether you own a store, an online shop, a hospitality or services business or a healthcare practice, it’s wise to ensure you have a plan B. Analyze and assess the primary risks within your industry and draw up plans to minimize disruption. If you had a large number of members of staff go off sick or adverse weather conditions prevented you from delivering products to customer homes, for example, what would you do? If you have policies and procedures in place, you can act swiftly to prevent widespread disruption, reduce the risk of losing sales and keep your customers on-side. 

Once you have backup plans, it’s beneficial to share them with senior team members and appoint people to take on roles if you need to make changes or introduce new protocol. This will help to ensure a seamless transition. 

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Business owners face an array of hazards and threats. If you own a company, it’s essential to be aware of the potential risks you face and to take steps to protect your business. Go the extra mile to impress customers and enhance your reputation, seek expert advice to minimize cybercrime risks and downtime and make sure you have comprehensive business insurance. It’s always beneficial to have contingency plans in place so that you can act immediately if you encounter obstacles or difficult or unexpected scenarios. Being proactive can help you to minimize disruption, save time and money and eliminate stress. 

By Erica Buteau

Change Agent. Daydream Believer. Maker. Creative. Likes love, peace and Jeeping. Dislikes winter, paper cuts and war. She/Her/Hers.

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