Monitor – Action – Protect

Most businesses don’t want to suffer a loss – even if they have insurance.  It’s a hassle to resolve, distracts them from the day-job and can impact their future insurance premiums should they make a claim.  Prevention should be their first line of defence. 

Here are 3 steps to set up some defences, save time in the long-run and maybe help small businesses owners sleep a little easier…

1. Understand what could catch you out 

Small businesses wouldn’t say they do ‘risk management’ in the corporate sense.  However taking a few minutes to make a list of what a business really depends on and what could go wrong that could really floor them is what they probably already have in their head.  We aren’t talking complex risk analysis – this is practical:  Real-life risks that we probably should be doing something about.  Simple spreadsheet versions exist, or tools like Brisk have a built-in Compliance tool which has a default checklist of items you can configure and add to.

o   Building a checklist of things small businesses need to stay on top of

o   Setting reminders for key tasks and maintaining an audit-trail with supporting evidence

o   Completing company checks or individual AML/KYC checks on a client that could catch you out

Brisk Compliance tool

2. Set up some ‘sentinels’ to watch your back

Risk monitoring is starting to get smarter – especially if you let trusted platforms like your Accounts, Bank Account and connected devices talk to each other.  Here some examples:

o   Website monitoring – software can detect security loop-holes in your website and alert you to these gaps that hackers could exploit should they find them before you do 

o   Identify theft monitoring – software can monitor your ID, Credit card, passport online and alert you if they are being used or shared (on the web or dark-web)

o   Email monitoring – monitor if your email has been found in a data breach (meaning that someone may have your username and password)

o   Be alert! Over 90% of cyber crime comes from human error.  Clicking on that email link or inadvertently entering your Office 365 login credentials to access a shared document ‘someone’ has sent you.  Phishing attacks are on the increase. 

o   Set up a phishing-awareness service to keep you on your toes with links to training if you need it

o   Monitor your own company Credit rating (if you are a limited company and file accounts).  If someone spots your rating has dropped or something negative, this can impact your ability to win new business or get financial services products

o   Keep track of news about your business, customer ratings & reviews

o   Keep an eye on cashflow: Whether it’s clients paying late (or not paying at all) or suppliers failing to deliver the product or service you have paid for.  It’s worth credit-checking and monitoring the companies you work with and keeping an eye on news items that might indicate a potential problem

o   Stay ahead of supply issues: If you rely on suppliers to do your job – a supply failure could cripple you.  Identify where you have key dependencies and line up alternate suppliers that you could switch to at a moments notice.  Monitor these suppliers and get alerted to potential issues

3. Get the right protection, tailored to you

o   If relevant to a particular trade, get some appropriate quality accreditations

o   If you use technology, get a Cyber Essentials certification

o   As an sole trader or freelancer, protect your own financial health

o   Get insurance cover to meet your need and risk appetite

o   Show your commitment to sustainable business and use social media to help you show it off

o   Evidence the measures you have taken to your insurance provider so you stand out from your peers and are not treated as an ‘average’

Bottom-line:  Insurance is not a silver bullet.  There is more we should be doing to protect our own financial security and our business’ resilience. 

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