It’s no secret that globally businesses are navigating through troubled times. The global economic downturn is having a catastrophic effect on businesses. When well known high street names that have been in business for up to a hundred years go bust, then businesses need to evaluate their business development strategy. One other factor which adds further misery to businesses trying to survive a recession is that crime increases exponentially. Crime against businesses is one of the first sectors to rise in a credit crunch. Large numbers of people are laid off or made redundant,they lose their income and many struggle to come to terms with the low income provided by the welfare system.
Those with criminal tendencies will turn back to committing acts of theft and fraud to raise money. Organised criminals also experience financial losses in any economic downturn and sadly businesses are usually the criminal’s first port of call. My top 5 business security secrets are designed to assist all businesses to increase their security effectiveness and minimise the security risks of theft and fraud.
Top 5 business security secrets #1- Conduct A Security Audit
Every business has security requirements, the problem is most managing directors and owners fail to realise this critical factor until it’s too late. By too late I mean it generally takes an incident of employee theft, fraud or an act of vandalism or product tampering for the MD or owner to consider implementing security counter measures.
This is a positive first step; however security is best applied as a preventative procedure, rather than post incident. If security counter measures are applied post incident then the insurance premiums will have already been increased, or flagged for increase during your next trading year. Many MD’s and business owners then take it upon themselves to conduct a security audit. This generally is pre-programmed for failure as unfortunately most MD’s and business owners don’t know what they don’t know.
By this I mean, very few are skilled security specialists. The MD or owner security audit is generally driven by price, i.e. they will usually purchase security products based on the cheapest price, whereas a security audit specialist will focus on quality security products that will stand the test of time and assist in providing business support to the company as the business grows and prospers. A security audit for an SME size business can often be conducted in one to two days.
Top 5 business security secrets #2- Form A Threat Management Unit
It is safe to say that most business applications and concepts that materialise in the USA tend to find their way across the ocean to the UK at anything between 5 to 15 years later. Threat Management Units or TMU’s as they are known in businesses, are big in the USA and it’s only a matter of time before UK businesses jump on the bandwagon. The role of a threat management unit is to analyse all perceived and actual threats to any business and then implement business continuity strategies to ensure the business doesn’t fail because of critical incidents. All business aspects are covered by the TMU including, business growth, joint venture partnerships, due diligence, directors legal responsibilities to employees, employee checks, risk assessment and risk management,crisis planning, downsizing, redundancies, and a host of others. A threat management unit generally consists of two or three company employees, usually the senior company director or partner, the head of personnel or human resources and a manager. The threat management unit is then supplemented by a security consultant or a security director. ( see top business security secrets #5 for further information on security director.) It is important to realise that a threat management unit can and should be formed by even the smallest businesses as the strategies put in place can ensure that small, medium and large businesses can survive and thrive in the event of any critical incident.
Top 5 business security secrets #3- Design And Test Your Business Continuity Plan
It’s difficult enough surviving the current economic downturn without having to face the corporate trauma of losing your business because an external critical incident had an indirect or direct impact on your business. In the aftermath of the London7/7 terrorist bombings many businesses were affected by this critical incident. Sadly a number of them although not directly affected by the bombing were forced to close down. Many of them were small and medium size businesses. Local coffee bars and retail outlets closed because the police and security services closed down the streets to pedestrians where these businesses were located. Some of the pedestrian restrictions lasted several weeks as scenes of crime officers meticulously investigated these areas. Few small or medium businesses can cope with a loss of all revenue for several weeks.
However if any of these businesses had a business continuity plan in place alternative methods would have been pre-identified to continue with income generation during the time of crisis. Business continuity plans are not restricted to acts of terrorism. They include any type of critical incident which can happen to any type of business small or large. For example; A fire or a flood
destroys your office or shop, an electrical fault blows all your computer and communications equipment. An employee steals valuable data and sells it to your competitors. A disgruntled former employee returns to your business to harm members of your work force. A business continuity plan is a fantastic investment for any business who are seeking long term sustainable business growth.
Top 5 business security secrets #4- Research Your Business Competitors
All intelligence agencies conduct ongoing research and surveillance on their competitors. The old cliché of knowledge is power that every business coach and mentor bands around is severely flawed. Knowledge is not power. Power comes from the actions you take from gaining knowledge. I’m not suggesting you hire a platoon of former KGB agents to spy on your competitors although I personally know that this service is available although generally only to larger businesses. What I do advocate is the ancient Sun Tzu Art of War principle of, ‘know your enemy-know yourself’. If this appears somewhat extreme then it’s time for a reality check, your business competitors are your business enemies and the war is driven by annual turnover and increased profits, hence the need to research your business competitors.
With such advanced research technology offered by computers and the internet researching your business competitors has never been easier. For example most online search engines now offer competitor analytics which allows you an insight into how much they are paying for online marketing campaigns and who they are targeting. Just as it is in covert intelligence operations, being one step ahead of your competitor is key to success. In business this translates to long term business growth, sustainability, increased turnover and profits.
Top 5 business security secrets #5- Hire A Security Director
This business security secret #5 should not be dismissed because you think it is too expensive or beyond your reach. A select number of security experts and consultants hire themselves out to businesses on an annual retainer basis. The benefits of this concept are many. You and your business will have the ear of a security expert on call 24/7. You will not have to pay a full time salary for this security director, nor will you have to pay PAYE, national Insurance, holiday or sick pay, nor will you have to pay executive director benefits. In fact I know of some security directors who are retained by small business consultancy agencies for small to medium size businesses for the salary equivalent of a junior administrator. The fees payable for your security director are of course tax deductible. When you factor that this security director generally has a wealth of security experience and contacts which will all assist in your business growth and expansion of your business, then it’s a very small price to pay.
A professional security director will be able to produce your security audit, and assist with your risk assessments and prepare a business continuity plan in case your business faces an unexpected crisis.
Dr. Mark D. Yates The British American Security Expert has conducted high risk sec