Small Business Saturday 2020: Don't Overlook These Risks
Many small businesses have found ways to do business online over the last handful of months. For those who are already making sales in a virtual environment, this Small Business Saturday may not seem different from any other Saturday this year. However, that doesn’t mean it’s any less risky.
To help keep your Small Business Saturday safe and successful, some of GuideOne’s experts outlined a few risks business owners should be mindful of in 2020.
While some businesses have a well-established online presence, others are using e-commerce for the first time this year. GoDaddy, a popular web hosting company for businesses, reported a 48% increase in new paying subscribers from February 2020 to April 2020.
Unfortunately, with a tight budget and lack of experience, some small business owners could be making poor vendor decisions as they transition to digital sales.
“The fewer employees a business has the more likely they are to rely on low-cost online tools for everything from marketing, organization, data and information storage to tracking sales and engaging with customers.
Small businesses need to take particular care when it comes to selecting vendors and should approach vendor relationships like strategic partnerships – continuously assess your existing business partners and carefully vet any new ones.”
- Jeremy Miller, Information Security Analyst
Jeremy recommends business owners ask these questions to better understand the security of vendors:
- Is the vendor independently audited?
- Do they have annual penetration testing or vulnerability scanning?
- Are they in compliance with your state or national regulations?
Small businesses are being targeted more than ever by cybercrime, due in part to their lack of security infrastructure. Most small business owners are aware of their weaknesses. According to a recent survey conducted by the U.S. Small Business Administration, 88% of small business owners felt their business was vulnerable to a cyberattack.
“The first step to making yourself secure is understanding that you are a target and taking action. Often, the tools that small businesses are using are accessed on mobile devices. This means in order to stay safe from common cyberattacks all businesses face – such as social engineering, password cracking and ransomware – small businesses need to have a mobile policy and make sure all employees are aware of it.”
- Jeremy Miller, Information Security Analyst
To better control the security of mobile devices used for business, Jeremy recommends business owners keep these considerations in mind when developing a mobile security strategy:
- Are employees allowed to use their own devices to access company data?
- Does the business provide company devices?
- Can data be stored on devices?
- What happens if someone’s device is lost or stolen?
- Are employees clear on what activities are allowed and forbidden on devices used for business?
With many businesses using social media platforms to carryout essential functions, it’s important for them to understand the landscape and play by the rules. A captivating Instagram story or a shareable Facebook post has the potential to reach a large audience, but that material could quickly be flagged, reported or removed if it infringes on the copyrights of others.
“In today’s digital world, businesses have to be active on social media to reach a larger audience. However, it’s not uncommon for a business to accidentally violate copyright law without even realizing it or intending to do so. This is especially true for small businesses with limited budgets and who may not have experienced marketers or lawyers on staff to provide guidance.”
- Christy Gooding, Marketing Director
To help small businesses avoid copyright infringement when posting on social media, Christy recommends the following tips:
- Ask for Permission. Before posting anything online – a picture, video, blog, music, or any other content created by someone else – ask the creator for permission to post their work. There are laws in place to protect the ideas and products of people and businesses, but most creators won’t mind if their work is shared, as long as they are given credit.
- Use Copyright-Free Images. There are several public sites, like Shutterstock and iStockPhoto, that provide images to use on social media that aren’t copyrighted. You can use these images, usually for a small fee, without worrying about copyright infringement.
- Be Mindful When Livestreaming. Livestreaming is a great way to connect with your audience and showcase your businesses’ products and services. Many businesses, however, make the mistake of adding licensed music in the background of their videos, which they then upload to their social platforms. Licensed music cannot be used in branded content, and the creator of that audio may have the video taken down based on copyright infringement.
While some may experience an entirely virtual Small Business Saturday and others may have their doors open, all business owners have property risks to keep in mind during this time of year.
“We understand that 2020 has been a challenging year. As the situation changes, it brings new opportunities and challenges for small businesses. Retail operations in particular can adapt in a number of ways. We encourage businesses to follow the guidance of both the CDC and local health officials. Keep in mind that you have requirements to employees and customers. If you are able to open a physical location, you may want to consider limiting occupancy and traffic patterns, expanding hours to meet demand, and face covering requirements.”
- Brian Gleason, Senior Risk Manager
To keep property and employees safe this season, Brian recommends taking the following steps:
- Determine actions you can take to prevent frozen pipes.
- Review OSHA’s COVID-19 Guidance for Retail Workers.
- Reduce the risk of slips and falls in and around your property.
- Protect your property during an unoccupied period.
- Be proactive about winter maintenance inside and outside the building.
Additional Information for Small Businesses:
© 2021 The GuideOne Center for Risk Management, LLC. All rights reserved. This material is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to give specific legal or risk management advice, nor are any suggested checklists or action plans intended to include or address all possible risk management exposures or solutions. You are encouraged to retain your own expert consultants and legal advisors in order to develop a risk management plan specific to your own activities.